Teacher assigns ‘oppo’ research for Obama

Eighth graders at a Virginia public school were told to research the weaknesses of Republican presidential candidates, write a paper on how to exploit the weaknesses and identify who to send the paper to in the Obama campaign.

“This assignment was just creepy beyond belief — like something out of East Germany during the Cold War,” one frustrated father, who asked for his family to remain anonymous, told The Daily Caller.

Michael Denman divided his honors civics class into four groups, all assigned to do “oppo” research on Republicans. After parents complained, the principal told the teacher he should have let students research a candidate from either party, a Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman said.


Allegedly, the teacher never told students to send their research to the Obama campaign, but why assign two students in each group to figure out the name of the right “oppo” person?


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  1. My guess is that if both parties had multiple candidates, the teacher might have split the class into separate campaign researchers. It seems easy in this case to say, “Let’s work for the Obama campaign and research all of the republican candidates.” This sounds reasonable to me, although your point, Joanne, is well taken.

    Finding the person to send the research to might be going a bit overboard, if it did, in fact, happen.

    I don’t agree with the angry parent. The project isn’t at all “creepy.” It’s very insightful, if a bit poorly executed.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      I’m trying to imagine the same teacher in 2004 having the kids investigate John Kerry, John Edwards, Howard Dean, and Dennis Kucinich and send the results to the Bush campaign–without doing any oppo research on Bush.

      I’m having trouble.

      On the other hand, I think it would be a great idea to have kids do oppo research on all their elected officials, and possible officials.

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    This sounds reasonable to me.

    Re-posted without comment.

  3. It’s creepy if it’s one-sided. Imagine a Sociology class that took all its examples of rape from black on white crime, or all examples of fraud from crimes with Jewish perpetrators. Bias much?
    Years ago the sociologist David Reisman recommended that Social Studies not be part of the pre-college curriculum because, he predicted, some teachers would not resist the temptation to indoctrinate students. I would not go that far. Policies that give to parents the power to determine which institution shall receive the taxpayers’ age 6-18 education subsidy would limit indoctrination by government-employed school teachers. Tuition vouchers, education tax credits, charter schools (to a degree), subsidized homeschooling, and (my preference) Parent Performance Contracting would limit State-worshipful indoctrination.

  4. In ’04 my son was in a supercrunch elementary school in Boston. The teacher called my wife at home because he was 1 of 2 kids in his class supporting Bush. She said he wouldn’t back down from the other kids.

    • Did they try to force you to take your son for a psychological evaluation? I wouldn’t be surprised… You and your wife probably ended up on a couple of ‘lists’ too for your ‘trouble’…

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Bandit. I presume the teacher was telling you that you could be proud of your son?

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Bandit. 5% hoping, 95% joking. What did you say?

  7. Perhaps my school experience was unusual, but don’t eighth graders already know how to do a form of “opposition” research – namely, digging up dirt on classmates to start rumors with? And hounding the “loser” kids into submission?

    I’m assuming the teacher in this class is such a marvel that they already understand the Constitution and other important documents surrounding civics…