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Parent Blows Whistle on Teacher Promotion of Obama Internship

The parent of a Perry High School student in Massillon, Ohio, set off a firestorm in his community and in the blogosphere when he gave Pamela Geller, of, a copy of an internship application provided to his 11th-grade daughter's government class the last week of January.

The information packet, emblazoned with the Obama presidential campaign logo, was from DNC-funded Organizing for America (OFA), the successor organization of Obama for America. The student's father, identified as "Chuck," told Geller that the teacher offered no Republican Party internship equivalent to students.

The document, posted in its entirety on Geller's website, promotes a ten-week internship for "empowering students across the country to help us bring about our agenda of change," and for which students may receive course credit. Interns must commit to at least 12 hours a week, and will be taught how to be "leaders in OFA's organizing work this summer," i.e., campaign workers for the 2010 election season.

According to the curriculum details, interns will learn "the theory behind Community Organizing," and practice "tactics for relationship . . . and organization building." Suggested readings for the first week of the program include Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, and Stir It Up: Lessons from Community Organizing and Advocacy by leftwing activist Rinku Sen.

Activities include using social media for "online organizing," building alliances with others working on health care, energy and education reform, and role-playing interviews with media outlets about the student's experience as an OFA intern.

At the end of the internship, students are asked "How do you plan to continue working with OFA in the future?" Organization leaders are also instructed to "have interns agree to participate" in a follow-up call with OFA headquarters. The purpose of the call is to "unveil our larger strategy for student and youth strategy in the states." Leaders will then follow up with each student to get them "immediately . . . plugged in to OFA's efforts within their communities."

Perry Local School District Superintendent John Richard said the government teacher violated school policy by passing out the forms, but implied the teacher did not look through the material before handing it out. "I do believe it was an honest mistake on [his] part," Richard said. "However, board policy was not followed and the teacher had no administrative permission to do so."

Perry High Principal Don Gregoire sent parents a letter about the controversy on February 1, 2010. "We apologize that your son or daughter was given this information without approval," Gregoire wrote. "This error in following Board Policy has been addressed and has been clearly communicated to staff." (, 2-3-10;, 2-2-10)

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