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Alabama students confront school board over right-wing teacher who compares Obama to Hitler

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Julia Coccaro (WKRG)

Students are revolting at one Alabama high school over the right-wing lesson plan pushed by a government teacher.

Baldwin County School Board members heard complaints Thursday from students about Spanish Fort High instructor Gene Ponder, who assigned at least five books by right-wing talk radio host Michael Savage and compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in one lesson, reported AL.com.

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The students complained Ponder relied on outdated published materials and blog posts to back up his political claims the in the AP class and used unscientific reasoning on issues such as gun control.

“This is not a small group of students misinterpreting or challenging a viewpoint,” said student Julia Coccaro, who also raised concerns about Ponder’s summer reading list last year.

The school system pulled that assignment in June, after students complained the reading materials promoted one viewpoint without offering a challenging contrast.

“The taxpayers of Baldwin County are not paying for their children to be indoctrinated,” said Coccaro, who chairs the Alabama High School Democrats. “They are paying to be educated, and we are not being educated in that classroom.”

Parents, local residents and former teachers spoke out against Ponder, who declined to comment.

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“The lesson plans I examined appear to be totally extracurricular,” said Cynthia McMeans, a retired teacher. “No teaching materials based on a legitimate course of study in the social sciences would rely on and include information from websites, blogs, articles and interviews found on conspiracy theories and logical fallacies. None of the lesson plans come from reputable sources.”

Another former teacher was more succinct.

“We are teaching hate in our school systems,” said retired teacher Sandra Page.

Superintendent Eddie Tyler said the board would consider some of the suggestions offered, such as having an academic supervisor examine the lessons, but he said some speakers “engaged in character assassination” against the teacher.

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One local man defended Ponder, saying he had attended one of the government teacher’s classes.

“I was looking for something to tell me that this teacher was bias (sic) and I didn’t hear it or see it,” Eugene Maye of Fairhope. “We want to believe our kids. But my take from that class is that I didn’t see anything wrong.”

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