Last updated: February 17. 2013 8:53AM - 39 Views

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SCHOOL IS supposed to be where young Americans learn about the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech.

It's not where students should be ridiculed for expressing a preference in the presidential election. Children can't vote, but they can let the adults who do know which candidate they like and why.

That could create one of those coveted teachable moments in which students, guided by a capable teacher, get to exchange ideas and learn something valuable without resorting to a dull textbook, website entry or video.

Unfortunately, that's not what happened to Samantha Pawlucy, a 16-year-old sophomore at Charles Carroll High School in Philadelphia, who was ridiculed by her geometry teacher on Sept. 28 for wearing a pink T-shirt expressing support for the Romney-Ryan presidential election ticket.

Pawlucy says her geometry teacher, Lynette Gaymon, said wearing the T-shirt in a "Democratic" school was as absurd as it would be for Gaymon, a black woman, to wear a Ku Klux Klan shirt. The child said the teacher went into the hallway to call other students and an aide into the room to laugh at the shirt.

Gaymon's aunts later said the teacher, who has made no public statement, had apologized to Pawlucy and that she regretted her actions, which she meant to be a joke.

Mayor Michael Nutter over the weekend visited both Gaymon and Pawlucy, but wouldn't comment on the conversations.

It's not too late for that teachable moment. Not just at Carroll School in Port Richmond, but at schools all over the city and elsewhere. Use the case of Samantha Pawlucy in civics classes to teach a valuable lesson about the Constitution, voting and respect.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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