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Schools: Youths' Political Education

June 29, 1995

Let me preface my remarks by stating that I do not own a gun, never have and probably never will.

I was interested to see that some 370 Santa Monica elementary school students signed a petition to ask Sen. Robert Dole to prevent a repeal of the federal government ban on assault weapons (Westside, June 18).

Not surprisingly, this was explained as the culmination of a survey by school authorities about what most bothers our children in school today and it is presented as a "lesson in politics" for our children.

I think it is wonderful that these elementary school children have acquired such extensive knowledge about the history of this country and constitutional authority to enter this process. And I am thrilled to think that each and every child was exposed to both sides of the debate over gun control (complete with speakers from each side of the issue appearing before them for presentations).

To demonstrate how the constitutional right to free speech and freedom of association operate, I imagine they were given the opportunity to refuse to sign the petition and an opportunity to sign another petition in support of repeal.

Absent all that, our elementary school children would only have been exposed to the "politically correct" demands of their teachers and a cadre of controlling liberal parents and activists that so seems to dominate the political landscape in Santa Monica--often merely censoring those with opposing views rather than allowing the debate to proceed.

That approach of course more closely resembles indoctrination and the worship of feelings rather than education and knowledge. I'm sure that didn't happen or the reporter would not have written such a laudatory article about how much the children learned about the American political process. KIP DELLINGER Santa Monica

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