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November 25, 2005

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Rhymes With Right

Maybe it is because I am a teacher that I have a different take on these two situations that you do. Frankly, i see only one of the two incidents as unethical -- and it is not the essay contest.

Let me explain.

As a social studies teacher, I get essay contest material all the time. When I taught English I got even more. Because the contests often had scholarship money awarded as prizes, I posted them and encouraged kids to enter. Were some of the contests ideological in nature? You bet -- ranging from the UN Association and Planned Parenthood to the NRA and the Ayn Rand Foundation. While this contest was made an assignement in a class, there seems to have been an additional option made available for those who did not aggree with the slant of the questions given as part of the contest (which I would never have put to my students in the first place). While I question making this or any other contest essay a class assignement, the availability of the additonal option minimizes my objection to the assignement.

On the other hand, participation in the vocabulary quiz was mandatory. Students had no option but to take the test, and no non-ideological option available to them. Taken further, that the quiz items were insulting and extreme in their ideology, they really had no place in the classroom -- as I indicate over at my site.

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