January 31, 2010

A Teacher Looks At OFA Internship Program

I'm a high school social studies teacher. As such, I have a lot of internship program/scholarship contest/ educational opportunity literature show up in my mailbox, hoping I'll distribute it to my students and encourage them to apply. As a rule I do -- especially the scholarship contests -- but I don't push any of them all that hard or target particular students. I don't screen for ideology, only for whether the opportunities appear to be from legitimate organizations and offer some bona fide academic benefit. I've even written recommendations to programs that have a slant I disagree with, simply because I believe that my students ought to take any opportunity for learning that comes to them. I do, however, refuse to pass a few on if something seems to be "not right" about the program or the sponsoring group.

Now I offer that preface because I'm about to join the chorus of folks on the right trashing the Organizing For America internship program. Pamela Geller over at Atlas Shrugs has raised some very important issues about the program, and i am more or less in agreement with her on what she has to say.


If I had this show up in my mailbox, I would have trashed it in a heartbeat. Not because it is a project of Obama and the Democrats, but because it is an explicit political recruiting tool. As a teacher, I have an obligation to keep classroom from being turned into a tool for political recruitment or exploitation. That's why I keep my name off my blog, don't blog from school, and have even turned down several offers of goodies for my students when they came with partisan or candidate messages attached. If this had come my way during the Bush years, I'd have trashed it just as quickly.

What is the offensive part of the program? That cover page spells it out. it is explicitly partisan, and designed around promoting the agenda of a particular politician. Frankly, this teacher finds it scary that this would be promoted in a classroom. Indeed, I'd really like to hear more from Geller about the manner in which this seems to have been done in one Ohio school -- was this one teacher giving the material to her class, one school distributing the material to all students, or what? Regardless, though, this should not be pushed by staff at school, or distributed by school personnel.

On the other hand, I don't have nearly the problem with the existence of the program that some folks do. As wrong-headed as Obama's policies are, I'm all for its supporters working to implement those policies. After all, that is a part of what makes America the great nation it is -- citizen involvement in politics. I cut my political teeth as a volunteer with the Reagan campaign as a high school student, so I applaud the involvement of these young people in the process. And if I find the Alinsky/ACORN model that this program is using to be rather frightening, I think that enough Americans have turned against the Obama platform that teaching the method to the kids is likely going to do little to advance Obama's goals.

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NAME: Greg
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