Thursday, March 22, 2012

Obama Should Do His Own Homework

Obama Should Do His Own Homework
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
March 22, 2012

Coming to a public school near you – your children are enlisted as political operatives?

Be careful, parents, if you are not paying attention to the curriculum and the assignments thrust upon your children in their social studies or American history classes, the continued far-left indoctrination will march on unfettered.

Although the case of Liberty Middle School teacher Michael Denman occurred in Fairfax County, Virginia, it is not unimaginable that such a situation couldn’t occur in your local school district whether in a red or a blue state.

Denman ordered his eighth grade students, typically ages 13 to 14, to research the Republican candidates running for president, determine what their weak spots are, and write a report detailing how best those weaknesses could be exploited by the Obama reelection campaign, as initially reported in The Daily Caller.

While there was no debate over that aspect of the assignment, there was conflict concerning whether or not the students were required to submit their findings to the Obama reelection campaign committee. The class assignment called for such a submission, while Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman John Torre said sending the report of the GOP candidates’ vulnerabilities was not required.

Unfortunately, there was no condemnation of the nature of the assignment in the first place coming from Torre, nor was there any disciplinary action meted out against Denman for such a clearly one-sided assignment.

Denman’s attempt to take advantage of his position of authority over impressionable youths with an assignment of unmistakable bias is part of what is wrong with the public schools today. In fact, by having his students research one side of the aisle, Denman, a civics honor’s teacher at Liberty Middle School, has gone contrary to the school’s name as such an assignment limits people’s liberty.

Research is certainly a productive teaching tool for students. However, vet all the candidates; hold a school assembly with students debating the issues while representing the candidates. Decorate the school with posters and banners, then, hold a mock primary in the spring and a mock general election in the fall. Having taught socials studies and American history, these are successful, hands-on teaching tools.

Let this be a teachable moment for Mr. Denman, who should face some measure of discipline. Other teachers have been punished for lesser offenses.

Indoctrination in the public schools, which happens far too often, typically goes unchecked. Share an opinion if students ask, but clearly state that is precisely what it is – an opinion that does not require agreement. This is a cautionary tale for teachers and schools across the fruited plain.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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