In a former life, I was a high school economics and government teacher. I really did love it, and I loved teaching my students about our great nation and the processes that make it work (I even liked my teenaged students…most of the time). I was also very fortunate to always live and work in a right to work state, and thus was able to avoid compulsory union membership. I was free to just teach, and I always managed to fly low enough under the radar of office to politics to enjoy my work and my co-workers – even the union rep. So it bothered me greatly when I read about the Virginia Teacher’s Union encouraging their members to wear blue last week to “Barak the Vote”.

The VEA (Virginia Education Association) claims they only wanted teachers to encourage students who were eligible to register and vote. This is a fine idea, and one I always promoted in my classroom. However, in today’s caustic political climate, encouraging its members to “Wear Obama Blue” the VEA stepped over the line. As an aside here, I would be just as concerned had the email said, “Wear McCain Red”.

As a teacher I realized that I had a lot of sway and influence over my students. With that power came great responsibility and I had to be very careful that I did not cross the line. It was not my job to teach my students WHAT to think, only HOW to think. I wanted them to have an opinion, and I didn’t care what it was, just as long as they could back that opinion up with facts, figures and logical arguments. This action by the VEA is a breach of the pubic trust and totally inappropriate. The classroom is not the place for political pontification. The VEA needs to stick to advocating for education and not for political candidates.

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