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Texas school district: No Obama, no Bush and no field trips

Also: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets an Oval Office welcome; and President Obama stumps for Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter.

September 20, 2009|Andrew Malcolm and Kate Linthicum

A recent string of decisions by officials at the Arlington Independent School District in Texas has ensured that there will be no politics in the classroom there. And, apparently, there will be no fun, either.

It all began when district Supt. Jerry McCullough denied students a chance to watch President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren about the importance of education. McCullough banned the address because, he said, it might interfere with lesson plans and cause a distraction.

But then word leaked that McCullough had approved a field trip for 600 fifth-graders to Cowboys Stadium for a Super Bowl XLV kickoff event in advance of the 2011 game at the new stadium in Dallas. Among the speakers scheduled for the event: former President George W. Bush.

Some parents complained. And the local and national media pounced. The superintendent, they charged, was clearly partisan.

So McCullough canceled the Bush event, too.

In a statement released Monday, McCullough said the decision was made "in order to maintain our focus on instruction."

But the students got the worst of it. They missed out on a political education -- and a field trip.

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Obama loves that Keystone state

Boy, for someone who once thought Pennsylvania was full of rural, gun-toting religion-clingers, President Obama has come to love the place.

He sent Vice President Joe Biden to Pittsburgh for a wild Labor Day. He arranged for the G-20 summit of global finance ministers and central bank presidents to meet there this month.

And Tuesday, so he wouldn't annoy Eagles or Steelers fans, Obama was campaigning on both sides of the state.

On Tuesday, he appeared at a Philadelphia fundraiser for onetime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, who'd like a sixth term, this one as a Democrat, while Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak would like a first Senate term. Big primary fight to watch in coming months.

--

andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics ( www.latimes.com/ticket "> www.latimes.com/ticket ), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. These are selections from the last week.

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