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Since it's Fairfax County, I'm more surprised that someone objected and it's making the news.Not that it's not creepy and awful. But this is among the bluest parts of Virginia.
Not unlike what's going on in several high schools right here in Wisconsin. Just yesterday there was ahuge uproar about an American Issues teacher in Muskego requiring his students to create posters declaring their political leanings.
Kiddie-crowd-sourcing opposition research! What dastardly new plot will those Democrats come up with next!!I suppose they want to flouridate ice cream too ("Ice cream, Mandrake. Childrens' ice cream.")
An insult to the East Germans. The propaganda of the German Democratic Republic was sublime in it's subtlety. Masterful work like "All in the Family" came cranking out of the Stasi shop. Making the Norte Americano liberals feel superior to the blue collar proles that formed the backbone of American anti-communism was their primary goal. The propaganda ministry caused Carter's election. The East Germans took the best of what Goebbels had taught and improved on it.
Just have the kid refuse. And if the teacher gives a bad grade, file a suit against the teacher and the schol board. The board will probably accept a settlment that coveers attorney's fees and the firing of the teacher.This case is an exemplary reason why the dept. of education be abolished, vouchers permitted and public sector unions banned.
Given the teachers' unions pretty much own the Democrat Party, no big surprise.What is surprising is that the objecting parents weren't reported to Big Sis and hustled off to Dachau-on-the-Potomac by GodZero's Civilian Defense Corpse.
What a great assignment! I wish my teachers had done more real-world-based assignments like this where I could learn interesting things. People are pooping in their pants over nothing, here. It's not like those kids were going to find anything that the campaigns haven't. Maybe the teacher should have given them the choice of candidates to vet to avoid the appearance of partisanship, but then how do you settle the dispute between the four kids who have to work on the project together? Just assign a candidate and let them get to the real point of the assignment - learn how political campaigns work. This is valuable knowledge that citizens can use, and it's worth a whole lot more than most of the crap public schools are teaching.
To be fair, I'm sure the opposition research done by these 8th graders will be far more coherent, logical, and tempered than anything Media Matters has ever produced. George Soros may even evaluate their exemplary work and end up cutting Media Matters' funding to divert resources to this school.
"The 8th grade students...were required to seek out the vulnerabilities of Republican presidential hopefuls and forward them to the Obama campaign."Yes, Althouse, really.Am I missing something? Are you endorsing this assignment as legitimate with your one-word post?You don't find this creepy? You don't consider it indoctrination, reminiscent of some socialist dictatorship?Really?
What a great assignmentYup, sure.
“The principal advised the teacher that he should emphasize to his students that this assignment was meant to learn a process and not to endorse a particular candidate,” Torre said. “The teacher agreed with the principal’s direction.”And yet, still no attempt made to include Obama as the target of opposition research.If it is about the learning process (waves to Jennifer whitewashing) then candidates from both parties are chosen.If its about partisan brainwashing (again, hi Jen) then only the GOP is targeted.
This would have been a great assignment had they included Obama and then looked at the differences AND the teacher hadn't just accepted any "research."
Okay, assuming that they're not forwarding this Intel to campaigns, and other than the one-sidedness of this, what's really wrong with it?Students are investigating Presidential Platforms, evaluating whether something is a strength or a weakness, and then discussing it in class. It sounds like an interesting Civics problem.I hope the teacher said: I don't expect you to believe or agree with your points, but you should be able to argue for them cogently. It is an Honors Class, after all.
A Pulitzer Prize awaits the first intrepid writer who finds indisputable evidence that Obama ever had a summer job in high school or college. They can get a second Pulitzer for evidence that Joe Biden's IQ exceeds room temprature.
I’m going to assume that there is more to the story and that some of the details are being misreported or misrepresented. This is one of those stories that sounds “too good to be true” if you want to see Obama defeated and I would caution against taking this story at face value.
This case is an exemplary reason why the dept. of education be abolished, vouchers permitted and public sector unions banned.Um... Why? The Dept of Ed didn't put the teacher up to it. Don't get me wrong. I support scrapping it if there can't be shown a reason for it to exist, but come on, this isn't a reason to abolish it.
If I had written this lesson, it absolutely would have been a two parter, including the same research on the current President.
Democrats have a long history of engaging in partisan political activity on the taxpayers dime:The Hatch Act, sponsored by Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico, was passed in 1939 after a controversy involving the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and allegations that workers had been used by local Democratic Party politicians during the 1938 congressional elections.
what's really wrong with it?Students are investigating Presidential Platforms, evaluating whether something is a strength or a weakness, and then discussing it in class. It sounds like an interesting Civics problem.Its a great idea provided you don't turn it into a partisan exercise in liberal indoctrination. I bet everyone in this thread would applaud the exercise *if* the teacher had included Obama's Presidential Platform as well.I would be curious to hear his explanation as to why he didn't.
Okay, assuming that they're not forwarding this Intel to campaigns, and other than the one-sidedness of this, what's really wrong with it?Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln.....The one sidedness is definitely a problem.Also, researching to whom you would send oppo research seems a tad creepy to me. It kind of reinforces one of the less pleasant aspects of our political culture.
This is nearly as creepy as those brainwashed elementary kids singing that non-descript tribute to bHo that they were force-fed before the last election.
If I had written this lesson, it absolutely would have been a two parter, including the same research on the current President.Agreed, but I would have divided the class in two and have had half the class working on the pro-D research while the other half worked on the pro-R research and then made them switch halfway through. Sort of like learning to argue both sides in moot court.
During the last election, my kids' government teacher gave them the assignment of volunteering for a campaign for a certain number of hours. It could have been for any candidate or cause.
Madison is right on this. There seems to be ginned up outrage in this story. It's only natural the teacher would focus on the Republican candidates, because that's the only political contest so far. If Obama was being challenged for nomination, the assignment would probably have been more expansive.I think the question that really needs to be investigated is - Why is a parent with obvious conservative leaning even allowed to live in Fairfax County? Aren't there standards?
"...and other than the one-sidedness of this, what's really wrong with it?"I think it sounds like an interesting assignment in some ways. In others it's sort of silly. What are they doing to do, run a content search of HuffPo? Unless it was better instruction than that on how to find public records and other "real" data... which I sort of doubt... but it could be really good.My objection would be the one-sidedness of it. It does present a case where the class is set up to discuss one party, and only one party, in negative terms.Certainly there are Democrat politicians running for office here and there. Have them do research on the local candidates of a race in a different state, that would be the best. All the learning objectives are met and no one has a personal opinion they need to be shamed into denying.But what is the teacher going to say about it if he's not aware of the potential problems without being told? No one in my class will be made uncomfortable because they don't properly think Santorum is a hateful bigot, because we have freedom of ideas here, even hateful bigotry? No one is going to hear the idiotic opinions of their backward parents mocked and feel like they have to take it?
/via HotAir"In order to cover all bases, the teacher, Michael Denman, divided his honors civics class into four groups of six students each, one group per Republican candidate. Within each group, two students were tasked with identifying the weaknesses, two with writing the attack strategy paper, and two with finding an individual within the Obama campaign to whom the information could be forwarded."Don't we have child labor laws to prevent this kind of abuse?
The father exagerated..But that teacher needs an Etch-a-Sketch.
I would have loved this assignment.It would be fun to follow it up with an assignment where each group would find Obama weaknesses that would work well in the campaigns for the candidates they already researched.
Thats the answer Micheal Denman should have given, ie. my followup lesson was on Obama's platform.Instead, Denman chose "no comment"
It's only natural the teacher would focus on the Republican candidates, because that's the only political contest so far. If Obama was being challenged for nomination, the assignment would probably have been more expansive.That really doesn’t make a lot of sense. The assignment is to find weaknesses that could be used in the general election. Obama is the only one who for sure will be running in the general election and if anything, the assignment would fit more perfectly when focused on the weaknesses of a candidate that you know for sure will be running.
Synova - You hit the nail on the head. This assignment was set up so that the class would learn that only republicans have taken inconsistent positions, or have skeletons in the closet. Obama (and all democrats) are left pure. If the teacher doesn't see that side effect of his assignment, he should not be dealing with such topics.One group of kids could have been tasked to find inconsistent statments/positions by Obama, and then the class could have discussed that. They could then have place the whole assignment in the proper context. As it was, they were being miseducated on the topic, which I see as worse than remaining uneducated at their age.
If you want to teach people to think critically, why not use a fictional campaign? For example, like from the West Wing or a similar fictional show. Sure, people might say West Wing was biased, but it is significantly less biased than asking someone to dig up dirt on specific people.Or, why not use a historical campaign? For example, I hear the Jackson campaign could have really used some good crisis management in the past.There was no good reason to use a modern, on-going campaign -- especially where only one side was targeted.
Was he teaching a Civics class in 2008, and if so, did he have those students research the Democratic candidates?I think that the two in each group who had to find someone to forward the information to had the easiest task. Unfairly easy compared with the other two jobs.
Really what?Really did some mutt libtard teacher actually do this or really does this rise to the level of East Germany before the wall fell?Because I'm pretty sure it does rise to the East Germany level.Public Education ... it's time to shut it down completely. Give children vouchers and get government, federal, state and local out of the education business.
One other thought ... perhaps this is so common in Wisconsinstan that it's not shocking.
John Torre, a spokesman on behalf of the Fairfax County Public School system, insists that students were never instructed to actually send their results to the Obama campaign.
"John Torre, a spokesman on behalf of the Fairfax County Public School system, insists that students were never instructed to actually send their results to the Obama campaign."-- Oh, that makes it all better. I'm sure if they were not instructed to send their oppo research on Obama to Karl Rove, it would be OK to have them do it!Again, there are plenty of options available that don't send off alarm bells. Making the assignment balanced, using historical/fictional campaigns -- using the local level politicians talking about things like parking and local property taxes, etc. Just a "find bad things about Republicans" is a -lazy- assignment and doesn't actually teach you how a real campaign is done.
Andy R. finds a sliver of hope in the official, cover-my-ass statement made by one of the educational tools in charge of the Virginia thought-police incident and parrots it.'tard.
Andy R. John Torre, a public relations hack on behalf of the Public School system -And Andy swallowed it right up.
other than the one-sidedness of this, what's really wrong with it?Suppose all public schools, whenever they touched any live political issue, always came down on the side of one party; always made support of one party's positions a condition of success; always made it clear that refusal to at least fake enthusiasm for the right party could endanger a student's chances of passing.Would there be anything really wrong with that? (Aside from, maybe, the one-sidedness?)
Oh I don't know. Me and the other kids think its just swell. We also liked these assignments:Obama Songand...Obama ChantPlus now we can live at ease in LA because no bad words will be said on radio. Well...at least not by nasty Republicans. It's getting better everyday. Umm umm umm....
If you go to Andrew Sullivan Hearts Obama dot com, you will find step by step instructions for creating your very own Obama Shrine.He's working on the national public school requirement.
I don't care if they found where to send the info or if they actually sent the info. I'm sure the Obama campaign already knows where to find HuffPo and KoS and whoall else.Current educators have a "relevance" fetish that makes them stupid. "Let's do this real thing! And pretend that it's really real like Real Life! And pretend like you might find something that is really Relevant and matters."So in a fit of "relevance" induced "dumb" the teacher assigns only the people in the current active presidential primary.Doh!Fellow needs to keep that one father's contact info so he can call and say "Hey, dude, I need a quick sanity check... is this going to piss off people like you, who I never interact with in my life?"
Fellow needs to keep that one father's contact info so he can call and say "Hey, dude, I need a quick sanity check... is this going to piss off people like you, who I never interact with in my life?"That’s actually not a half-bad idea so long as he’s willing to accept that sometimes the father might say, “I’m not pissed off but here’s why I think you’re wrong . . .”They used to have a token Republican on the “West Wing” who Seaborn and company went to try to gauge how Republicans might react to a proposal by the Bartlet administration. One time they actually had an episode where Sam went to Ainsley Hayes with a proposal and she convinced him to do the opposite.But then BDS set in and the show pretty much went downhill from there.
I'll give him creepy.I won't give him that it's worthy of the East Germans - especially since it was some twit's local idea.
your tax $$$$ at work
Yes, really!Of course I do not really know anything about East Germany high schools, but I do know that my Norwegian teacher in Norway would not have touched anything like that with a 10' pole.And he was an ardent socialist (an actual, real one, but on his own time - not in the classroom).
A lot of commentators are finding fault with the teacher because he only assigned his students to "one side" and this is "not fair".If you think about it, what would be unfair would be assigning any of the class to investigate President Obama:This public school teacher, being well-educated and fair-minded, must know that students would find nothing, nothing, nothing on the squeaky-clean administration. It would be totally unfair to these students--running into a brick wall of promises kept and a level of openness in administrative detail heretofore unknown in the modern presidency. Meanwhile those lucky students assigned to the Republican field would be mining trove after rich trove of skeletons, hypocrisy and evil--which they could turn into projects which would easily earn A+ for all of them.
During the last election, my kids' government teacher gave them the assignment of volunteering for a campaign for a certain number of hours. It could have been for any candidate or cause.Still....totally inappropriate and beyond the scope of "public education".If my child were given that assignment to volunteer to work for a political party...... they could just go and bite me. It would not happen. Discussion, evaluation and education is appropriate.Or maybe we could volunteer for the KKK party platform and watch the teacher's head explode. THAT would be fun.If we WANT to volunteer we will do it when we want and where we want. And it certainly wouldn't have been for a political campaign.There is no such thing as 'mandatory volunteering'.
bgates, so what you're saying, absent the snark, is that you agree with me, and that it's a good assignment but for the fact that it focuses on Republicans?
Do we know for certain that this lesson was not to be followed by one looking at things from the other perspective?
This very thing happened in the Verona School District during a prior election. When my daughter told me about the assignment I told her she would not be doing that assignment until I spoke with her teacher. I told the teacher she would do a paper in which she would compare and contrast the candidates positions on a specific issue. If he would not agree I would go the principal and then to the school board and then to the media. His decision on how to proceed would make my decision for me. He responded my daughter would get a "0" for her grade. I went to the principal, explained my position and told him where I would go if he did not intervene. He intervened and my daughter did a position paper on gun control. Parents can not be afraid to call teachers on these issues. You just have to be be sure to have a clear idea of another way to accomplish the learning goal of the assignment.
Althouse voted for Obama and therefore the entire apparatus that supports him and has tightened its grip exponentially around liberty's neck since the start of his reign CAN'T BE LIKE EAST GERMANY! Anyway, Althouse is in no way threatened - she thinks - so what me worry?
I think Obama is a total disaster, and I have never supported him. I'm in Walter E. Williams conservative territory ideologically.And I think people are overreacting about this assignment. There's also not enough information to form such definite negative opinions. How do we know what assignment was going to come next? (Or maybe someone does know that, and I just missed it.)
I have a feeling the students are having this same discussion.
It would be easy to brush this off as either 1) a misunderstanding and an overeaction 2) an isolated incident, except this is not the first time that Virginia teachers have been engaging in, shall we say, directing their students during election years. We remember this one from last the last Obama election season:http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/02/teachers-union-e-mail-touting-obama-draws-backlash/
Do we know for certain that this lesson was not to be followed by one looking at things from the other perspective?If you are looking at campaign inconsistencies,the other perspective isn't Obama's campaign inconsistencies.
Freeman Hunt said...There's also not enough information to form such definite negative opinions.You remind me of the epistemologist who suspected his wife was having an affair. So he followed her one night. She met a man at a bar. They had a few drinks. Then they drove to a motel and got a room. The philosopher sat in the parking lot and watched from his car. They went into the room. The curtains were open. He saw his wife undress and recline on the bed. The man took his clothes off. Then he closed the curtains.The epistemologist slammed his fist on the dashboard and exclaimed, "Oh, DAMN the uncertainty!"
Do we know for certain that this lesson was not to be followed by one looking at things from the other perspective?That’s a fair question. The school already responded to questions on the assignment and an answer like “actually we having them do both sides” would seem like a slam-dunk way of deflecting criticism. It could be that the principal or the spokesperson did not know for certain. Or it could be that the answer was “no.” Or it could also be that they were never asked that question. Or perhaps the assignment has been so mischaracterized as “opposition research” that the question isn’t really relevant because they were really doing something like analyzing “[i]dentify[ing] & practice[ing] strategies for evaluating campaign materials” which is part of their Standards for Civics and Economics for Eighth Graders or something similar. That being said, I stand by my original comments that I think there is probably a lot of misreporting and misinformation being put out about this story. The Daily Caller piece is based entirely on one anonymous parent’s characterization of the assignment. I have no reason to take the word of an anonymous source. For someone who thinks that public school teachers are generally in the bag for Obama, this story seems almost “too good to be true” and we’ve seen how often people on both sides of the aisle have gotten suckered into believing something that validated their preconceived notions of people on the other side that later turned out not to be true. There’s nothing to be lost by reserving judgment and keeping a cool head until the facts come out.
When my daughter, now a lawyer and Obama supporter, was in 6th grade, her class had a war crimes trial for Harry Truman and convicted him for dropping the atomic bomb. Then, as now, these kids have no idea.
There’s nothing to be lost by reserving judgment and keeping a cool head until the facts come out.What will be lost is the story will go away and you'll never have a chance to judge or comment.I don't think this is one of those long-haul investigation-type stories. There's nothing evil about commenting on the story as reported.
@Freeman How do we know what assignment was going to come next? (Or maybe someone does know that, and I just missed it.)When asked the teacher had no comment. He did not whip out his LESSON PLAN and show what was *planned* to follow.I thought that's what made professional educators special. They have lesson plans.
Speaking of dictators and stuff, the EU is getting tough on Syria. This from Laura Rozen:Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad's infamous luxury shopping sprees may be coming to an end.European foreign ministers due to meet Friday in Brussels are expected to slap new sanctions on the dictator's wife.The sanctions, if agreed, would mean the British-born Asma al-Assad "will no longer be able to travel to the EU or buy from EU-based shops, in her own name," Reuters reports. The proposed new measures come as the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to endorse a statement pledging support for former U.N. chief Kofi Annan's peace mediation efforts in Syria.
Having attending Fairfax Country Schools since 4th grade, I'm not surprised. Although Virginia is a non-union State, it doesn't stop some teachers from pushing their own agenda. I remember in 8 grade history class we were suppose to read three newspaper articles a week and bring them into class to discuss the topics. While the predominant paper is the Washington Post, my parents subscribed to the Washington Times (a right leaning paper). My teacher would always comment that my particular articles were 'not true' and 'shouldn't be taken seriously'. Anything left leaning was praised in class. So, I'm not surprised.
You know what's creepy beyond belief? 64-63 Syracuse.
I have a hunch that any Democrats challenging Obama for the nomination would have gotten the same treatment.
certainly nothing wrong with asking students to think about current events/the election/the candidates. had the task been to research both the strengths and weaknesses of the guys in the running, then no problemo. instead, however, the assignment crossed a line when the students were asked to find only the candidates'vulnerabilities...with, i assume, the goal being to groom the kids for future careers at media matters. now had this stayed in the classroom it would have been troublesome enough but that these student findings were then to be SENT TO THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION goes way, way beyond creepy into outrageous and downright frightening territory. if my kid was in that class, i'd be chasing the teacher around armed with a 2x4 about now.
I'm always fascinated by efforts to get around the Establishment Clause.Is a religion only a religion if it calls itself that? Or is religion something that can be defined even if it refuses to come clean?Environmentalism in schools comes close, it seems to me, and so does politics.
I was in Leipzig last May and while there visited the Stasi museum. It's in what was formerly the Stasi headquarters. Creepy is an entirely inadequate word. Not only that but hearing from a friend and those who grew up in communist East Germany makes it sound even creepier. Informants were everywhere, totally undermining community. Kids were recruited to spy on other kids, to divulge information about their parents. I could go on and on. Freaked me out. At the same time, there was a significant more amount of job and life security. Suicides spiked after reunification because suddenly people had to depend on themselves and didn't know how to do that. This present school stuff isn't much like East Germany, but it's definitely also entirely not fitting. Again, this is why I think "orientating philosophy" should be used instead of "religion". Folks with all kinds of goals want to use mandatory public forums to indoctrinate others, and only rarely does this involve some kind of deity.
Actually it is funny that this didn't happen in Madison, except that in Madison most of the parents wouldn't even think enough to see how creepy this really is.
That's nothing!Out West here, we have a black female school district superintendent that is being crucified for making racial remarks.One of her accusers, a black female teacher, is saying that she has a "superiority complex, or sumthin'".It's not an education system. It's glorified, unionized baby sitters!!My mother taught me how to read, and that all the training I needed.
that WAS all the training I needed!!
I can't think of a worse lesson than to teach young people that it's smart to only attack one side in political contests.If the teacher had to choose to have a bias, American education should have it toward attacking the government (power) side rather than the opposition, no matter who's in power.The bias of the lesson is so bad that it completely overwhelms any positive value from the exercise. Yes, "really".Teaching the process of politics without addressing truth or balance is like teaching someone how to shoot a gun without teaching them when to shoot it. They're better left untaught.
Another reason it's creepy is that these kids are being forced to help a particular candidate beat another against their will. Now what if a child had parents who were actively working for the opposition campaign or just dedicated supporters of the candidate their child is being forced to badmouth and actively help get defeated. It's incredibly myopic for this teacher to not see how foolish this was. I'd be pissed that my kid's teacher was so dumb. And you, a law professor! Quite disappointing.
What's really creepy is the state of the American education system. Most teachers in K-12 aren't smart enough to teach their kids anything. College teachers are largely left wing propagandists. I shudder half the time when I meet my kids' teachers.The father should have had his child do a comparison/contrast between the Republican candidate and Obama with all the Republican's "weaknesses" being stronger than Obama's strengths.Of course, the teacher's just wanting more easy money for being a shitty teacher.
If the teacher had to choose to have a bias, American education should have it toward attacking the government (power) side....Entirely correct. Recently reread Thoreau "Civil Disobedience" and plan another read. It should be taught in grammar school and taught again in high school.
And you, a law professor! Quite disappointing.In some areas she seems quite blind. Remember she voted for Obama last time.
In addition to the general creepiness of the one-sidedness of this project, what's further creepy is that it's not learning a particular candidate's platform or goals or experience, but muckraking and attacks. Even if you want to naively construct something harmless about this, it's an awful thing to teach kids that politics is all about digging up something from the opposition's past ("Mitt Romney doesn't care about dogs! His religion is weird!").
Jane, you've nailed the thing that bugs me about this episode. I'm appalled with the whole postmodern cloak enshrouding the assignment: Let's find 'weaknesses' in the opponents' platform and then strategize how to exploit them.How about including what the candidates stand for? This Alinsky-izing of America bugs the shit out of me. Please; you want to be an effective leader, just stand for something and don't just look to exploit weaknesses. You will have to defend yourself, but people will ultimately respect you for it. I'm not saying you have to be civil and bland; call out your opponent if need be, but ultimately you should be known as someone who stands FOR something first and foremost.It makes me think of an artist who myopically focuses on the negative space without ever acknowledging or representing the positive foreground object staring him/her right in the face.
The teacher should have had them check up on the flip flops of Rutherford B. Hayes, and why he ain't all that and stuff.
The Daily Caller piece is based entirely on one anonymous parent’s characterization of the assignment. I have no reason to take the word of an anonymous source. For someone who thinks that public school teachers are generally in the bag for Obama, this story seems almost “too good to be true” and we’ve seen how often people on both sides of the aisle have gotten suckered into believing something that validated their preconceived notions of people on the other side that later turned out not to be true.This.If I posted, "A guy's dad said [...]," wouldn't you want more information?"There are a number of reason the teacher might say, "No comment." It might be because he's arrogant and malicious, but it also might be because that's school or union policy. Or it could be simple annoyance. Had I assigned this and a reporter called, I might give "no comment" just out of annoyance at the intrusion.As for the description of the incident, we're getting this from the teacher to the child, from the child to the father, from the father to the reporter, from the reporter to us. I'd like a little more meat on those bones.
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