Thursday, October 16, 2008

What some students will do for extra credit

Since 2004, I have amassed a small collection of political paraphernalia on one section of my classroom wall. I have a Kerry/Edwards and Bush/Cheney '04 yard sign from the last election, along with a Join Arnold sign from the 2003 California governor's race. Add in some bumper stickers and buttons featuring Clinton/Gore '96, Ross Perot, and Harry Browne, and my collection is a pretty impressive one.

When this current election cycle began to get hot and heavy, I offered an extra credit assignment to my 8th graders: 30 extra credit points to anyone who could bring in either a McCain/Palin or Obama/Biden yard sign. I stressed that I would need one of each for balance, and I also stressed that they must get the sign legitimately, such as going to a party headquarters and buying one. I specifically said, "Do NOT pull one off of someone's lawn."

Not surprisingly, I had to go to the Republican HQ near my home and get a McCain/Palin sign myself, because none of my students even considered getting one of those; they are totally in the tank for Obama. Not long after, a student (we will call him Juan) brought in an Obama/Biden sign (many students had brought in signs with just Obama's name, but I wanted a sign with both candidate and running mate).

I gratefully accepted the Obama/Biden sign from Juan and hung up both signs on my classroom wall. Over the next few days, Juan kept badgering me to put his extra credit points in the gradebook, but some weird feeling kept stopping me from doing so; I don't know what it was.

Late last week, I got an email from my VP in which she asked me to come to her office, because she had a funny story to tell me about how I obtained my Obama/Biden sign. I went to her office, and discovered that my weird feeling about not giving Juan the extra credit was justified. It turns out that the same day that I reminded the class that I was still after an Obama/Biden sign, Juan proceeded to ride the bus home, got off the bus, and pulled up from a lawn the first Obama/Biden sign he spotted. Not only that, but he apparently damaged a sprinkler head on that lawn while pulling up the sign and stealing it. When the VP brought Juan to her office, he of course claimed he had no idea that what he had done was at all wrong.

But the story doesn't end there. Today, another student walked into my classroom at the end of the day and said, "Mr. Chanman, I'm here to get my mom's Obama/Biden sign. Juan pulled it off her lawn the other day." A minute later, the student walked out of my room with the sign, and there was McCain/Palin hanging up there all alone. So here I was, three weeks before the election, and I didn't have both signs anymore, and I didn't have time to hope that a student could come through with one in a hurry. There was only one thing to do. I didn't want to do it, but I saw little other choice. I went online and found the nearest Democratic Party HQ, which was located in downtown Sacramento on P Street. My school isn't too far from there, so I left work immediately, and drove into the belly of the beast. As I turned from 28th Street onto P, I saw it: one of those former bungalows that has been turned into a lawyer's office. Decorating this house were numerous Democrat Party and Obama signs, which left no doubt that this was my destination. This conservative's Conservative walked into that HQ and I instantly felt like Dorothy in the Land of Oz; I was definitely no longer in Kansas. There on a shelf were two reverently framed photos of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. On another shelf were framed photos of John Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt. Covering almost every square inch of the walls were signs trumpeting candidates in national, state, and local races for various political offices. Milling about the place were assorted "eclectic" residents of downtown Sacramento who you couldn't imagine being anything else but members of the Democrat party. The most painful aspect of this whole affair was the $10 that I handed over to one of the HQ's lackeys so I could walk out with my sign. For a bunch of socialists, capitalism was alive and well in that place!

So now, that Obama/Biden sign is sitting in the back of my car, waiting to be stapled into the empty space on my wall that sits adjacent to my McCain/Palin sign. At least I can rest assured that neither sign was stolen from anyone. Next election, I will require my students to provide some sort of written proof from the HQ in which they received the yard sign. Lesson learned!

Good Day to You, Sir


Anonymous said...

I too have been collecting political paraphanalia, mostly news clippings. Can you believe I have a hard time finding anything with McCain? Surprise, surprise. I have so much Obama stuff that several of my students think I'm for Obama. Fancy that.


Chanman said...

The young are so idealistic; that's why we don't, and shouldn't, let them vote.

Polski3 said...

I have a collect of political campaign buttons that I started back in the late 1960's when several different ones were available at a local "Elect Nixon" rally. It was a great affair for a kid, free sodas, ice cream and buttons. I also scored, no pun intended, really! a "Yes on 19" button that those supporters of California Proposition 19 were handing out. It is a yellowish button with the number 19 in the center of a cannibis leaf.

Later, after my father passed away, I got his JFK campaign button.

Campaign buttons are harder to get now. Like the Donks wanting your hard earned cash for an O/B campaign sign, they usually want money to give you a button.

I have been thinking of getting a Mc/P sign for my front yard, and put it next to a NO on Prop 8 sign, JUST to be onery.

Right now, I don't feel right in voting for EITHER CANDIDATE. And the two running to represent me in the State Assembly are both idiots. I can't wait for this election to be OVER.

Darren said...

I'd have left the space on the wall blank.

We're in for a rough couple years, no matter which of those idiots wins.

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