1. Opinion

A pointless pledge on guest speakers

Published Jul. 31, 2012

The made-up controversy over guest speakers in the public schools shows how far some Hillsborough County tea party activists will go to throw the entire school system in reverse. This campaign is aimed not solely at censoring the voices of Muslims in this community. It stands as a warning shot to the board that a vocal minority not entirely sold on public education in the first place wants to micromanage the eighth-largest school district in the country.

Activists are bullying School Board candidates to sign a pledge obligating them to block the appearance of speakers from the local Council on American-Islamic Relations. Candidates would do "everything" in their power to enable parents to make the final decision on whether a child attended a presentation by CAIR or another "controversial" organization.

The pledge is meaningless; parents already have the power to keep a child from taking part in a school activity. The measure would not give parents any more control than they already have. If anything, it rewards disengaged parents by putting teachers and principals on the firing line for almost any outside speaker. Today it's Muslim clerics. Who is tomorrow's target?

Dumbing down the schools is one thing. Intimidating School Board candidates and fanning discrimination in the run-up to elections Aug. 14 is another. The pledge fans the myth that parents are somehow unable to take part in their child's education, when nothing could be further from the truth.


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