- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2008

An e-mail distributed by a Virginia teachers union encouraged members to bring politics into the classroom by wearing blue in support of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and simultaneously suggested that the union’s voter registration efforts include those “you teach.”

The Virginia Education Association (VEA) e-mail drew strong criticism Wednesday from elected Republican officials and some residents after the state Republican Party obtained a copy. The author of the e-mail conceded Wednesday that the e-mail should have been worded differently.

The VEA is an affiliate of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union.

“Schools should be perfectly neutral,” Virginia resident Julie Aurora said Wednesday. “They should teach students how to think, not what to think.”

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The e-mail said teachers should wear blue Tuesday for “Obama Blue Day” and to “register two voters or talk to two people who may be on the fence/or a McCain supporter and sway them to become a Obama supporter.”

The e-mail also states: “There are people out there not yet registered. You teach some of them.”

Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, Prince William Republican and chairman of the state party, said: “It is an outrageous breach of public trust and an abuse of taxpayer resources that teachers chose to use school grounds as a political base.”

Mr. Frederick said the words “you teach some of them” suggest that the e-mail was meant to encourage teachers to recruit their students, not just ordinary residents, into the Obama camp.

“That is patently wrong and it should be illegal if it not already is,” he said.

VEA President Kitty Boitnott said the charges are baseless and that the e-mail does not suggest teachers rally support for Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, from students.

“It’s a ridiculous statement,” said Mrs. Boitnott, a librarian at Chamberlayne Elementary School in Henrico County.

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