Sorry Guilford County Schools Students, Your White House Tour is Cancelled

5:20 PM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, N.C. - Local 5th graders are learning disappointment is part of life. They are in Washington, D.C., right now, but can't go inside the White House.

Wednesday, President Obama said he wants tours to start again. Critics say cancelling tours was a political move and argue the President should limit his own travel to save money.

Regardless of who is to blame, students from Murphey Traditional Academy are paying the price.

Fifth Grade Teacher David Kirkland had to squeeze in an extra lesson before his fifth graders left for Washington. It was a lesson about money, politics and personalities.

"It was complicated for them to understand because sequester is a word that's not familiar to them. I tried to use other synonyms that might mean the same thing. They, of course, were still confused. We, as adults, are confused about the sequester as well," Kirkland said.

Fifth grader Phillip Le said, "It's like ruining the trip."

After all, going inside the White House was supposed to be the highlight of the trip. The sequester cancelled those plans.

"I felt like it wasn't fair because we really wanted to go," student Camille Clark said.

11-year-old Matthew McGuire added, "I haven't been there, ever. I've seen it. It looks pretty big and very neat."

Jabez Slade, another fifth grader, said, "I wanted to see how big it was compared to our school."

Although the sequester situation is about money and budgets, Mr. Kirkland says there is also a lesson here about teamwork.

"We need to learn to work together to save money so that we don't lose opportunities that are essentially rights that we all should have - to be able to go into the White House," Kirkland said.

Instead, students must rely on a movie to tell them what it's like inside the White House.

"I think they should have made some kind of deal so they could sort it out," McGuire said.

Senator Burr plans to meet with the students to welcome them to Washington. Congressman Howard Coble told WFMY News 2 the government should have never cancelled the tours.

"It's ridiculous...depriving children who look forward to this. I'm hoping these doors to the White House will swing open again imminently," Coble said.

Senator Burr sent WFMY News 2 the following statement:
"It is regrettable that the White House chose to close its doors to tour groups in order to save money particularly considering they have discretion over where to make cuts and there are a number of other options to find similar savings. However, there are still numerous ways my office can provide North Carolinians visiting our nation's capital with a positive, fun, and educational experience, and I encourage any North Carolinians traveling to Washington to contact us to see how we can help."

Senator Kay Hagan's office sent us this statement:
"Senator Hagan has been in contact with North Carolinians who planned to tour the White House. The Senator expressed her disappointment and apologized for the inconvenience this has caused. She is disappointed that Washington spent more time posturing than they did coming up with a real solution to avert sequestration, which will have an outsized impact in North Carolina. The Senator will continue to keep constituents informed if and when the White House policy changes, and she welcomes North Carolinians to visit her office when they are in Washington."

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