LANSING, Mi. – It’s become all-too-common for teachers unions, and sometimes school administrators, to use students as sympathetic props for their political causes.
The worst part is when teachers use their immense influence over children to sell them on their personal political ideas, and then bring them out to march in union picket lines or bus them to a state capitol to protest for some left-wing cause.
A new bill in the Michigan legislature would require school boards throughout the state to adopt policies prohibiting school employees and board members from engaging in political lobbying during school hours, using public resources to lobby, sending lobbying materials home with students, or involving students in lobbying during school hours.
The worst cases of this type of thing we can recall weren’t in Michigan.
They came during the 2011 teachers union protests in Madison, Wisconsin, where hundreds if not thousands of school children were on hand to participate in the effort. When questioned by reporters, many of the kids could not explain the issues being debated or why they were there.
Last fall in Chicago, many students were out of the streets carrying signs on behalf of striking teachers. When one child was asked about the sign he was carrying, he said “some lady gave it to me.”
The Michigan bill was reportedly inspired by the actions of Carrollton school administrators in May, 2011. They sent several buses full of teachers, students, school board members and residents to Lansing to ask lawmakers to block a proposed cut in state aid to schools.
In all of these cases, the children were being used as props to gain public sympathy for one political cause or another, pure and simple.
Children should be left out of political games, particularly during school hours. One would think parents might demand as much. It shouldn’t take a state law to put an end to this practice.
Everyone involved with public schools should be at school during school hours. The students are assigned to go there to learn, and employees are paid to be there to help the learning process. The political activism and student brainwashing can wait until after hours, if it has to happen at all.
Michigan lawmakers must be careful in the formulation of this legislation, to make sure they don’t trample on anyone’s First Amendment right to free speech.
But they are on solid legal ground when it comes to demanding that staff and students be at school when they’re supposed to be, prohibiting school officials from using public resources for political purposes, or sending political material home with children.