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High school civics classes make use of absurd ‘liberal’ vs. ‘conservative’ survey

In yet another example of teachers with little common sense, 10th grade civics classes at a Connecticut high school have been told to stop using a student survey which allegedly “determines” their political beliefs.

After complaints by parents and Republican lawmakers, Wolcott High School officials informed its honors civics teachers to cease use of the “Liberal or Conservative?” assignment which places students on the political spectrum based on eight (silly) declarations.

Answering “yes” to statements such as “Kids should be able to listen to any music they want” and “Kids should be able to stay out all night after Junior Prom” garner a “liberal” rating, while a “no” signifies “conservative.”

Aside from the vacuity of the statements, at least one was a real head-scratcher: How is it “liberal” to believe “kids should sit down and eat dinner with the family”?

According to Hartford Courant, state GOP lawmakers blasted the survey. State Senator Rob Sampson noted the poll doesn’t even have anything to do with politics: “Any 15-year-old, regardless of their home situation, whether they were brought up in a liberal or conservative household, will probably answer yes to those questions. … I would probably come out as a liberal on that test.”

From the story:

“While we feel that there was no malicious or political intent in the assignment, we understand that in the current, highly-polarized political environment of our country that some parents may have found it concerning,” [Superintendent Tony] Gasper said. “Nonetheless, a meeting with the teachers of this course was convened, and the assignment will not be used in the future.”

State Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, a Wolcott Republican who, like Sampson, is a member of the legislature’s Conservative Caucus, also said she opposed the assignment.

“It is unacceptable for any teacher or public school to impose their political beliefs into the classroom regardless of party affiliation,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “The questions on this quiz are clearly leaning towards ones political belief and bias and does not belong in a public school. I stand firm with State Senator Rob Sampson and share his comments.”

Sampson agreed the exercise seemed to have a predetermined outcome.

“It’s like the answers are designed for the cool kids,” he said. “The teacher is implying that it’s cool to be a liberal, and if you’re conservative, you’re a square.”

A recent Wolcott graduate told a local news station that, as Sampson said, the survey has little political association. Amazingly, the teachers of Wolcott’s honors civics classes couldn’t figure this out.

Read the Courant article.

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About the Author
Assistant Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 15 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.

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