When I was in eighth grade, I had a seriously hardcore history teacher. I had binders upon binders with notes about actual Vietnam War battles, the Cold War, JFK's assassination, etc. I'm sure there were points at which I could guess where my teacher stood politically, but I can't really definitively say, because he never personalized or politicized any of it.
The same, it seems, cannot be said for a Virginia middle school teacher Michael Denman, who is under fire from parents after making his students do "opposition research" ... on only Republican presidential candidates. According to conservative website The Daily Caller, the eighth-graders were told to research the backgrounds and positions of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul ... which, okay, so far, not so strange. But after that, it got a bit bizarre.
Denman reportedly asked the students to find any "weaknesses" in the GOP candidates' track records ... then prepare a strategy paper to exploit those weaknesses and send their suggestions to the Obama campaign. Hmm ... no matter what side of the aisle your beliefs fall on, you gotta admit, this assignment sounds questionable, if not completely crazy. Could I see it being legit in a political science course, say, at my super-liberal alma mater, Emerson College? Yes, quite possibly! But definitely not Denman's class.
A representative from the school district said the kids didn't end up sending in their homework to Obama 2012, but it sounds like they couldn't deny how one-sided the assignment had been. Denman isn't being disciplined, as of right now, but he has said that he would give his students the opportunity to do "opposition research" for candidates of either party in the future. Uh ... yeah. That sounds about right.
Because really, indoctrinating kids with political beliefs in a public school setting is just plain wrong. A teacher's goal should always be to equip kids with unbiased information and skills, so that they can draw their own conclusions on matters like a presidential election. If anyone's going to steer a kid to one side of the aisle or the other, it's the parents.
What do you think about this teacher's assignment?