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Politics Out of Place in Classroom By: Thomas Shope
ASU Web Devil | Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The issue of politics in the classroom came to a head in Arizona both here at ASU and at the State Legislature in Phoenix Thurs-day. State Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, called for a special meeting of the House Select Committee on Government Operations, Performance and Waste to investigate an April 3 speech at Tucson Magnet High School involving leftist union organizer Dolores Huerta.

That same day, the College Republicans at ASU had a special guest speaker on campus, paid for by contributions from private individual, to end their Conservative Pride Week festivities. David Horowitz's speech, centering around the topics of his new book, "The Professors," came on the heels of the earlier meeting that day, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Horowitz has been touring the country promoting his book. When I spoke to him after his book signing at Borders bookstore in Tempe, he said that ASU was his seventh stop in seven days, and that Friday would be his first day back home. Even with that, he still found time to testify before the House committee that afternoon.

For Horowitz, the issue of political posturing in the classroom is very important, as it is for many of us on college campuses. And as Huerta's speech in Tucson unfortunately showed us, it's important in high school settings as well. Horowitz's message was loud and clear, both in his speech and in our conversation -- outright endorsements of political issues, no matter if they are conservative or liberal, have no place in any classroom.

That was the same message Paton was trying to convey to officials of the Tucson Unified School District after administrators at Tucson Magnet High School allowed an outright leftist speech without a dissenting viewpoint on their campus, and without offering students who were offended the opportunity to leave. This was a speech that included quotes like, "Republicans hate Latinos, okay? Republicans hate Latinos."

According to Huerta, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., "wants to punish everybody," because as she sees it, illegal immigrants "have earned the right to be here in this country." In addition, she encouraged students to take part in the marches for illegal immigrants and also to campaign hard for U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

Unfortunately, it didn't stop there, as Huerta continued her assault by saying: "Down with Proposition 200! Abajo! Down with the Minutemen! Abajo!"

Did I mention that the topic of the speech was supposed to be encouraging students to do well on the AIMS test?

It is crystal clear after listening to the speech on the Tucson Unified School District's Web site that it was more of a campaign-style speech than anything else. That is exactly what people like Paton and Horowitz have a problem with.

I agree with them wholeheartedly, because while knowledge of current events definitely improves education, school-sponsored political speeches like Huerta's cheat students out of a full education, whether in a K-12 setting or at a college campus.

That is where the problem lies -- not with the fact that she is a rabid leftist, but with the fact that if she had stuck to the topic of the speech without turning it into a campaign speech, nobody would've had a problem with it.

Nobody should have to endure the one-sidedness that was seen in Tucson and on campuses throughout America. After all, it doesn't fit with the idea of tolerance of diverse opinion that is advocated by the education community.

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