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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

How much access to high schools is enough?



Republicans and Libertarians have been demanding face time with some Pasco Gulf High School students ever since learning that Democrats got in and pushed President Barack Obama's reelection message. The GOP won time to speak. The Libertarians got this e-mail from Gulf principal Kim Davis:

"Thank you for your email and your interest in addressing our students. I want to assure you that we are committed to providing a high quality, well-rounded education that is free of any bias to every student in our school.  It was not our intention to have any partisan speaker address students during instructional time, but rather to provide a non-partisan, informational voter registration drive. Unfortunately, the person that came in did not adhere to those guidelines.

"In the interest of fairness, we have allowed the opposing major political party to address this same group of students in order to provide a balanced perspective.  There are 12 Presidential candidates on the ballot, and due to time constraints and course requirements, I cannot accommodate each political party that may wish to speak.  We have tightened our procedures to ensure that future registration drives on our campus will only be provided by the Supervisor of Elections Office. Hopefully, this will avoid future problems.

"Our primary mission is to educate students and we must ensure that our students are successfully mastering the state standards for this social studies course. I am happy for you to provide literature about your party's platform and will make this information available to the students in the impacted class. This way, you can still share your party's perspective without further impacting instructional time. I understand this is likely not the outcome you are desiring, but hope you will understand that I am trying to do what I believe is in the best interest of our students."

Does this seem like a fair solution? Should the school use instructional time for political presentations? Should it even allow voter registration drives? Is it okay to provide access to the "major" political parties but not the minor ones? What's the best way to deal with the reality of elections and politics, without politicizing the schools?

[Last modified: Friday, September 28, 2012 6:28am]


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