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Maine teachers should quiet personal views

March 7, 2003

Staff editorial

As Americans, we are entitled to our own opinions concerning different political issues, especially those concerning the on-going threat of war with Iraq. However, elementary and middle school teachers in Maine have been inappropriately exercising this right by loudly voicing their anti-war sentiments to their young students, some of whom have parents in the military.

In Portland, there were several complaints last week by military parents that their children, some as young as 7, have been coming home depressed, upset and crying because of teachers' heated comments in class about the war with Iraq. Comments like, 'the pending war with Iraq is unethical' and 'anybody who would fight that war is also unethical' are inappropriate for young children, especially military children who have family members deployed in the Middle East.

There are several reasons these anti-war comments are inappropriate and should stop immediately. First, few 7-year-olds fully understand the concept of war, and even if they had the slightest idea, even fewer would know what the word 'ethical' means. These children are too young to have such strong political views forced upon them. They are not educated enough about the issues to make decisions about the ethical implications of the war.

Secondly, the elementary classroom is no place for 'ethical' implications of war in the first place. The teachers need to focus on their job: teach the kids according to the elementary curriculum. This isn't a university-level political science class; this is second and third grade.

These teachers need to stop pushing their own political agendas and focus on teaching their students social studies in an unbiased way so the children can be educated enough to think for themselves about the situation.