A recent Letter to the Editor to the Northfield News was harshly critical of the fact that sitting Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie spoke to my Advanced Placement Government & Politics class (he did not speak to a history class as erroneously stated in the attack). One of the most trying aspects of public service has been those instances when I have had to defend against unfounded accusations. These smears, which can easily be checked out with a simple phone call or email, are often perpetuated with intent to damage a professional reputation solely because one subscribes to a political position that differs from the writer.
Allow me to set the record straight; a record, I might add, that can easily be verified and substantiated.
As a political science teacher for the past 26 years, I have had numerous elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, speak to my Government and Civics classes. Furthermore, when doing so their party affiliation is irrelevant to my objective of having students come to understand the intricacies of their government at work. At no time do these speakers, regardless of their political views, ever attempt to “push their party’s agenda” as the writer assumes.
I take strong exception with any one’s assertion that I have – at any time - handed out partisan election materials in class that supports my own or anyone’s candidacy. Such a claim is an unmitigated lie. I exert extraordinary measures to make sure that my students receive the best education possible in an unbiased, open environment with respect to all viewpoints. I would never compromise my own ethical standards of professionalism by crossing a line between teacher and candidate.
I see no benefit to anyone from these types of tactics or ad hominem attacks. To cast aspersions on my professional integrity on the flimsy basis of what was “reported” to this writer and then treat it as fact, only serves to erode political discourse.
I am proud of my service to the Northfield School district and the constituents of District 25 and will continue to address all challengers and candidates – with respect and honest inquiry. In the future, it is my hope that they would uphold the same standard of decency.