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I am on the middle school level, so we aren't dealing with anyone near voting age; it was simply an awesome learning opportunity. (maybe that makes a difference)
Several students from my school in Beaumont, TX were able to attend one or more rallies held in/near town. As the student council advisor, I could not let the opportunity pass my students by. While I understand the view that all parties involved need a chance to be presented/heard, I don't think the only answer is,
"Well, if they can't see/hear all, just don't let them see/hear anyone." How is that helping to educate the student?
If there is only one rally the students could physically attend (money, time away from school,etc), find a podcast or other presentation of the other candidate's rally online. It seems such a waste to let such wonderful teaching moments go untouched.
Actually, for some a trip to more than one rally is not only possible but desired. Through such a trip students are given many learning opportunities. The chance to analyze "propaganda" and bias, separating the speech from the speaker, political issues, and government structure with this there is plenty of value in a trip to a political rally. As for taking two or more trips, it is sad that such integrated learning opportunities are coast prohibitive to public schools. I have the lucky experience of working at a nonprofit private school where we have the option of parents carpooling their students to off campus events and a small enough staff to coordinate cross curriculum lessons so that there is no "time away from school" rather school is held away from campus.
Taking students to a political rally is exactly the type of thing that a large number of people complain about teachers doing--providing only one side of an issue to students. However good the intentions, there is no way possible to give equal attention to rival candidates, unless you take students to rallies by all candidates vying for a particular position. The amount of time away from school and the cost involved in two or more field trips could not be justified.
Without making a value judgment, my 40 years in public education have led me to believe that the vast majority of teachers are far more liberal than conservative.
In defense of a truly liberal education, I would recommend a visit to conventions of both major parties, so students can learn about issues before their minds are made up for them.
An interesting question for class discussion: Why is it that the vast majority of loud, boisterous and vulgar protestors are liberals at conservative rallies and not vice-versa? I have always wondered about that.
There is absolutely no way my school would allow me to take my students to a political rally. This is Florida. with your students is a misdemeanor. But doing "magic" tricks in the classsroom is cause for dismissal. Teaching critical thinking is frowned upon.
As an English teacher, my unit would involve techniques of persuasion, thinking critically about how language is used to portray a certain point of view, etc.