News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, MAY 14, 2006


Invite political candidates into high-school classrooms

Anita Raby created a political furor of a good kind in Limestone County last week after she went on campus to register students to vote.

As a candidate for House District 5 in Limestone County, and a substitute teacher, her action raised questions of impropriety.

The former president of the Alabama Education Association said she wasn't teaching that day and was only responding to an 18-year-old's request for a voter registration form.

Other candidates interpreted her action as Ms. Raby taking advantage of her teacher status and they wanted equal access.

That's a fair request. In fact, all high schools should actively invite candidates for public office to come on campus and participate in civics classes.

Voter apathy across America is rampant. One way to reverse that trend is to get youngsters accustomed to voting as soon as they turn 18.

Schools should consider inviting candidates to class, allowing them to pitch their platform and opening the meeting to questions from students.

Raby has a history of encouraging students to register. That practice became an issue this year only in the heat of a political campaign. She said providing six registration forms at West Limestone High School was "innocently done."

Let's encourage all high schools to open their classrooms to candidates, but not turn them loose on campus. Informed voting is part of being caretakers for democracy.

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