Separation of Classroom and State

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 4, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Controversy continues to erupt all around President Obama from his planned speech on Tuesday to public school students across the country. The White House says that the president is just going to encourage kids to do their best to stay in school. But some people are raising suspicious eyebrows, even using words like "indoctrination." Some schools are debating whether to even show the speech, and concerned parents are thinking of pulling their kids right out of the classrooms.

Joining us now is Hilary Valente. Hilary does not want her daughter hearing this speech. Hilary, thank you so much for joining us tonight. Tell us how you found out about this.

HILARY VALENTE, CONCERNED ABOUT OBAMA SCHOOL SPEECH: An e-mail went out, actually, from my ISB (ph) on Wednesday evening is when I first found out about it.

BREAM: And what was your initial reaction?

VALENTE: You know, initially, it was kind of -- I wanted information. What's going on? What's going to be said? It wasn't -- I didn't jump to conclusions originally. Went to the ISB Web site, went to the Department of Education. And it was at that point that I started realizing I wasn't sure what the purpose of this speech was actually going to be. When I saw the curriculum outlines and all of that information, it just -- it didn't seem to add up to me at that point.

BREAM: And you have a 5-year-old. It's my understanding you've decided not to let her sit in and listen to this speech. What about that curriculum and the things that you discovered made you decide this was not for your 5-year-old?

VALENTE: It was really more about what -- it seemed to be focused on the politics of Obama and sounded more like, What will you do because of what President Obama has said? What will you do to support Obama? And it started to sound a little bit more political to me. Not that I think a 5- year-old can figure that out. I'm not that naive.

But I do feel like, on principle, that to have questions such as that, it opens the door for a slippery slope as far as how far you're going to go with politics, and not necessarily in this particular case, but you've opened the door, at that point, to let politicians to come into the classroom and possibly push agendas and ask questions that I don't think are appropriate for public education students.

BREAM: And what are you hearing from other parents? Are you hearing similar reactions?

VALENTE: Absolutely. First of all, I think a lot of people are very confused. When I mentioned these issues to other parents, a lot of them didn't even know really what was going on. It seemed like you had to be on top of it to figure out what exactly -- what's going to happen on Tuesday. I fortunately was able to contact various people within the board of education of our ISB and tried to get what the full story was. And just a lot of people don't even know even today what is going to happen next week.

BREAM: Now, you've been very proactive, obviously, wanting to find out what your daughter was going to be taught in school. How would you explain this to her? You mentioned she's 5 years old. She may not understand exactly what the president's going to talk about, but what will you tell her about why you did not want her to sit in and listen?

VALENTE: I would tell her that because I feel that these decisions to advance her education, while they are good and I'm glad that the president is supporting them, that it is something that needs to be her decision and that we have made that decision together and that it shouldn't be based on what the president has told her.

BREAM: Is there any way this speech could have worked for you? If it was strictly going to be a message encouraging kids, would you have been OK with that? Is your concern that it's going to cross the line?

VALENTE: You know, my concern is not really so much that the speech is going to cross the line, at this point. I hear that the department has changed a lot of the curriculum guidance, that there's no longer going to be an essay component for some of the older students, and I'm very happy about that. And I've also heard that they are going to be releasing the script of the speech, which I'm very happy about that. Parents do need to see this stuff before their kids are exposed to anything within the school system, regardless of it being political or not. But -- I -- I apologize. I lost track of the question!


BREAM: That's fine. We just wanted to hear about your thoughts on this. And it seems like you've been very proactive and done what any parent should do, is to find out exactly what's going on at their child's school. And we thank you so much for sharing your story, Hilary. Thank you.

VALENTE: Thank you, Shannon. Have a good one.

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