On Oct. 24, as students at Roosevelt Elementary School in Kingsburg participated in a campus event promoting democracy, something unfortunate happened. Invited candidates, advised by school officials not to share personal political statements, chose to advocate for their elections.
Both Margaret Mims and Danny Gilmore told fifth- and sixth-graders to tell their parents to vote for them. School officials were put in the untenable position of either telling the students that their comments were inappropriate or having to write a letter of explanation to all parents.
Under our current laws, candidates may advocate if both sides are present. School officials were mortified that the line had been crossed. Dr. Mark Ford, superintendent, and Melanie Sembritzki, principal, chose to immediately send a letter home stating that the school did not endorse any candidate.
If Cal Minor and Nicole Parra had also been present, a healthy lesson in democracy could have taken place. We welcome candidates in our schools, especially when there are valuable lessons in civic education to be learned. But we must not put our schools in an awkward position that jeopardizes a valuable "teachable moment" for students.
Larry L. Powell, Superintendent of Schools, Fresno County