Public-school teachers in Maine – at least 12 of them – have told children of recently called-up National Guard members that any attack on Iraq would be illegal and immoral, thus insinuating that the students’ parents are equally immoral, according to reports by local Guard personnel.
WABI-TV in Bangor, Maine, first reported Friday that family members of two National Guard units recently deployed reported to the Guard’s Family Assistance Program that teachers were making harassing comments to their children. The assistance program is designed to help families of Guard members who are called to active duty with information about various programs that can help them during deployments.
WABI reporter Alan Grover told WND that reports of the harassment had come in from 12 different schools across the state. Personnel from the Family Assistance Program collected the 12 reports after interviewing 80 Guard families. Since there are 600 such families affected, the number of actual incidents likely is higher.
State Education Commissioner Duke Albanese downplayed the matter, saying there were only “three anecdotal incidents,” according to the Bangor Daily News.
Adjutant Gen. Joseph Tinkham of the Guard, however, confirmed that there were specific instances of harassment and that the names of the teachers, locations and dates have been recorded. The Guard has decided not to release those names for fear of repercussions for the students involved and instead will allow individual parents to decide if they want to confront the teachers publicly.
WABI also reported that Albanese has sent a letter to the state’s teachers, encouraging them to be mindful of the children of military personnel and to be balanced in discussing various views about a potential war.
According to the TV station, principals and guidance counselors also have made disparaging remarks to students about their parents’ participation in war preparations.
In a related matter, WABI reports that the National Guard instructed soldiers to meet with school personnel prior to deploying to inform them of the deployment and let them know that the children of soldiers may have some special emotional issues to deal with as a result. In response, according to the report, school personnel were less than cooperative, telling the soldiers, in effect, “That’s your problem.”