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News ::
Really - Lets Be TOLLERANT and pic on the Kids.. (english)
07 Mar 2003
Teachers join 'axis of evil'
Matthew Dodd

The "axis of evil" has some potential new members
masquerading as elementary school teachers in Maine.
According to extensive news reports corroborated by various
state officials, dozens of children of soldiers from practically
every region of Maine who have deployed to the Persian Gulf
are being harassed by public school teachers, principals and
guidance counselors because their parents are, as one report
said, "bad people for participating in an unethical war with
Iraq." Some students are as young as 7 to 9 years old.
Local news articles in the Maine news media disclosing
the abuse curiously understated the incidents, citing officials'
requests that teachers "be sensitive to the emotions of
students in military families" — rather than explicitly disclosing
that the school employees are targeting military dependents
for verbal abuse. Such an intolerable and cowardly abuse of
power by taxpayer-funded public school employees should
not go unchallenged.
Excerpts of the letter sent by a senior Maine Army
National Guard official to reporters details this disturbing
trend:
"In all, we have over thirty complaints that name schools
and individual principals, teachers and guidance counselors. If
one considers that these complaints come from just the
parents who attended our [family assistance] briefings [for
deploying Guardsmen] and only from children who told their
parents, we are concerned that the problem may be more
widespread than we know.
"Ultimately, our main concern and first responsibility is the
safety of our children during these uncertain times. Maine has
a core of dedicated and professional educators, but we will
challenge any individual who places our children at risk due to
their own political ideologies."
In a memo to superintendents of schools and principals on
Feb. 25 Maine Education Commissioner J. Duke Albanese
acknowledged the allegations exposed by the Maine Army
National Guard. He wrote, in part:
"After discussions with Adjutant General and
Commissioner Brigadier Joseph E. Tinkham II, I am asking
you to remind school personnel that these are difficult times
for our nation and that the families of military personnel need
our sensitivity. As educational leaders in your community, you
may receive calls, e-mail messages, or other forms of
communication from people who are concerned about this
issue. As you respond to the public or advise your district's
educators and other staff, I encourage you to emphasize the
importance of:
•Providing balanced information in classrooms and other
settings that present the differing perspectives of Americans
regarding how our nation responds to Iraq. The content and
discussion should allow for questions and differences of
opinions, yet be grounded in civil discourse and mutual
respect. Age and developmental appropriateness of materials
are also important; and
•Encouraging school counselors, nurses, and social
workers to acknowledge the emotional and physical needs
and concerns expressed by children and families involved
with the Armed Services."
A review of the hundreds of internet message board
postings in a few days showed how intense and
emotionally-charged this issue has become for many people.
Some examples:
•"I think that Laura Bush needs to be informed. Right after
September 11, [Mrs. Bush] made some appearances on
television suggesting to parents and teachers to be sure to let
their children know that they were loved and that they were
safe..."
•"These [educators] are the people who will remove a
book from the school library if one student feels
uncomfortable about a few words in the book. How
intolerant they are and how hypocritical!!"
•"Incidents like these do not help those of us in teaching
who are sensitive to the situations and needs of our students.
I not only have students whose parents are in the military and
have been called up, but I have several Muslim children from
Pakistan and Afghanistan. Talk about having to walk a
tightrope..."
•"This kind of ANTI-AMERICAN propaganda is not just
in Maine... Right here in South Carolina, my son came home
from 4th grade and told me that the counselor said that it was
'evil' for us to go to war with Iraq. I went 'controlled' ballistic
— I'm on the mobilization list for Army retirees and my wife
is a GULF WAR I veteran..."
For updated messages on this topic, I recommend you
visit the "Winds of Change" Web site at
http://windsofchange.net/.
Finally, I felt it fitting to cite one particularly inspiring
message board posting that perfectly captured my own
feelings and perspectives:
"This [issue] needs to be splattered all over America to
prevent other teachers in other states from traumatizing other
children .... Congress should also be informed that these
children of service members are being abused in this way."

Lt. Col. Matthew Dodd, a Marine, is a senior editor of
DefenseWatch. He can be reached at E-mail:
mattdodd1775 (at) hotmail.com.
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