I read a newspaper article the other day about a school where I used to teach. It's a very small, nontraditional high school aimed at drop out prevention. Just like the school where I teach now, the focus is on self-paced learning using a computerized curriculum. Their students tend to be somewhat older than the typical high school student, many of them having dropped out already and made the decision to return to school and earn their high school diplomas. After they have been out in the world, they often realize just how relevant and necessary a high school diploma (or more) is.
The article, though, highlighted the fact that the school had taken a group of these students to the polls to vote in their first presidential elections. In balloon-filled limousines. For which the teachers ponied up about $100 each. And then they took them out to lunch.
My first reaction was, "Well, isn't that cool?" But by the time I finished reading the article, I wondered about the ethics of it all. The article stated that the teachers had been having "conversations" with the students about the candidates and their stance on the issues, etc. It makes me wonder just what form those conversations took. Don't get me wrong -- I don't think the teachers would deliberately do anything inappropriate. But as human beings, how possible is it to keep our opinions out of any discussions about things we feel passionate about?
I don't think their county was holding any major local elections, but one of their teachers is also a county commissioner. What if he had been up for re-election and had chipped in money to take the students to vote? What side of right and wrong would that be on? I happen to think he's a wonderful teacher and a sensible commissioner, and if I lived in that county I'd vote for him too. I'm just sayin'.
This might be a better topic for Debateur Debates, because she's a pro at handling issues like this.
Don't get me wrong. I understand their motivation. They want to instill the habit of voting in these students early in their lives and hope they continue to exercise their civil rights. Maybe they can even extend the lesson to include the fact that once a person is convicted of certain crimes, his/her right to vote may be revoked. (This school is also in a high crime area.) I don't know if voting might be important enough to a potential thug to keep him (or her) from turning to a life of crime, but it couldn't hurt, I guess.
Something about it just bothers me.......
On a completely different note, it is November 2nd, and I have already heard the "give-a-give-a-give-a-give-a-Garmin" commercial jingle twice today. Arrrrrggggghhhh!!!!! I was going to buy Sweet Girl a Garmin for her new car for Christmas, but I may have to get a Magellan or a Tom-Tom in protest of A) annoying commercials; and B) barely-disguised Christmas commercials two days after Halloween.