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What is the line between teaching and advocating?

For teachers, their students are almost like their own children. Teachers work hard to help prepare students for more than just being able to recite the important dates of the civil war or know that e=mc2. Teachers want to help their students learn how to use their critical thinking skills, to ask questions and to stand up for what they believe in.

One teacher was accused of going too far when she helped her students organize a fundraiser to address the Trayvon Martin case -- a case involving the shooting of a teenage boy by a neighborhood watchman. When the school board learned of her actions, they fired the teacher for allegedly becoming an activist.

The line that the school board says the teacher crossed in not so much a clear line but a cloudy gray area from state to state. At issue is whether the teacher lost her nonpartisan position and stepped into the role of engaging students in activism. But what kind of behavior is considered going too far?

In one incident, a teacher recently created an assignment that required his students to research the then GOP presidential candidates. When the students completed their opposition research, they were required to send their conclusions to President Obama's reelection campaign. That teacher was only told that in the future, the students should be allowed to choose their research candidates.

The termination of the Midwest teacher has already prompted an online petition to have her reinstated. Over 225,000 people have already signed.

Source: The Atlantic, "Michigan Teacher Fired for Organizing Trayvon Martin Fundraiser," Emily Richmond, May 7, 2012

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