Fairfax teacher assigned students to do opposition research against GOP candidates, report says

A Fairfax civics teacher assigned eighth-graders to conduct opposition research against GOP presidential candidates and send their findings to the Obama campaign, the Daily Caller reported Thursday.

The Liberty Middle School assignment to find weaknesses in Republican campaigns — and develop strategies to exploit those weaknesses — caused consternation among some parents who said that kind of partisanship has no place in a public school.

“I was shocked that a school teacher would so blatantly politicize the curriculum of a middle school classroom,” one parent told The Daily Caller.

“The intent of the assignment was to teach students about the political process and not to be an endorsement of one candidate over another,” school system spokesman John Torre said in a telephone interview with the Washington Post.

Students were supposed to figure out how to forward their findings to the Obama campaign, Torre added, but none of their research was in fact sent to Democratic operatives.

After a parent complained, Torre said, the school principal discussed the matter with the teacher. The principal said — and the teacher agreed, Torre said — that if the assignment is given in the future, students should have the option to research candidates from both political parties.

No disciplinary action against the teacher is being contemplated, Torre said.

Are you a parent at Liberty who was upset by this assignment? Are you a parent in any Washington-area school system whose children have completed assignments that you thought were inappropriately partisan? I’d love to hear from you at browne@washpost.com.

Emma Brown writes about national education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.

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