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What would Mike Riley say?

Published on: December 30, 2013

Frankly, I don’t get it. The Bellevue School District, apparently cowed by uber-reactive parents flooding the district phone lines, didn’t air President Obama’s address to the nation’s students on Tuesday.

They didn’t want the kids to be subjected to subversive directives such as Obama’s comments, “What you look like, where you come from…what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude.”

Former BSD superintendent, the late Mike Riley – a visionary who built his career on making sure kids succeed - would not be pleased. Distaining elitism and exclusivity, his goal was to provide every child with a top-notch education. “Why wouldn’t you want that for every kid?” he asked me in a 2003 interview for ParentMap.

BSD administrators were clearly intimidated by misinformed parents, and in a peculiar McCarthyistic moment, failed to stand up for their own students. Hopefully, the district arrived at this same conclusion after hearing the President’s strong – yet remarkably benign – speech.

A harsh lesson to learn.

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