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High school teacher Marybeth Verani refuses to honor her students enlisting in the military

Afghanistan a US sentry on duty

Happy high school graduation time around the country these days. Young people heading out to new lives, including some who have chosen to volunteer to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

Up in Massachusetts at Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School they even had a special assembly moment to honor the six graduating seniors who'd voluntarily signed up to serve their country.

The audience gave them a cheering, whistling standing ovation. But not Marybeth Verani. One of the school's teachers.

Verani refused to applaud. Instead she waved an "End War" sign. And sat down. Apparently not the only New England school teachers moving against the U.S. military.

Teacher Verani explains herself by saying she was showing the newly-enlisted students "how to dissent."

Her actions incited some local anger. Students said Verani has long made her anti-military views well-known in class. But some still said they were stunned by the disrespect toward their personal choices, though they're proud to be defending the teacher's right to dissent against those personal choices.

WBZ-TV has the surprising video here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times (U.S. sentry on duty in Afghanistan).

Comments () | Archives (13)

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Hooray for those student Patriots. So BRAVE to defend that idiot teachers right to say what she wants. Learn something from this, Marybeth Verani. It's something called Honor and Patriotism and Love of a GREAT NATION. If you don't like it; can I help you pack?

She apparently missed the memo about oppose the war but support the warrior.

She should be fired. There's a time and place for that kind of stuff but that wasn't it. I know I should be for free speech, but I'm tired and my flexibiltity is gone for the evening. what an absolute witch of a woman. She should be ashamed of herself. So, because she opposes war, these young people should be denied an opportunity to advance in this world, to serve their country, to find a way to pay for college down the road? Must be nice to be smug, safe little her, with the means to pay for that kind of future for HER kids, but not for these. Someone take away her pension and her tenure, and let's see what kind of future she might reach for.

Again, what a witch.

On one side you have Westboro Baptist Church and its minions of self righteous degenerates and then you have Verani. Both are an insult to our country and service people. Both are allowed to express themselves because soldiers gave their lives for this right. Their time and place of expression of their right of free speech is morally wrong.

Astounding, a teacher and her students that enjoy the freedoms of the United States but refuse to honor the US military which is responsible for guaranteeing those freedoms. Makes you wonder what kind of propaganda the Teachers Unions are using to indoctrinate our children. Doesn't this left wing brainwashed academic realize that the US military is responsible for most of the world's democracies. People live in freedom and enjoy the liberty and security of free Nations because our sons and daughters took on the challenge of joining the US military and fought to preserve freedom throughout the world. Many of them never came back to enjoy those freedoms.

This so called teacher is nothing more than a left wing anti-American socialist that feels her purpose in life is to push the hate America agenda on our children. She is a disgrace to her profession.

She may teach a class, but she has none.

Not taking a side here, just pointing out some errors.

Those soldiers aren't protecting her freedom. Our soldiers are fighting terrorists. Terrorists invoke terror. They do not take over countires and oppress said countries.

Mr. Z, the US military is not responsible for the most of the world's democracies. And understand that many of our freedoms, and freedoms of nations across the world, are because of a slow leftward progression. Slavery was ended because people became more left-winged. African Americans are now treated (roughly) equally because people became more left-winged. Being left-winged does not mean pushing an American hate agenda, nor does it mean being anti-American.

Good for her.

Unfortunately the flag waving moronic masses will accuse her of being unAmerican. She is more American than the unquestioning patriots will ever be.

I am sad to read how many of these so-called patriots misunderstand or simply hijack the meaning of "patriot". Calling for this teacher to be fired because she showed her opposition to war and disagrees with 18 years-olds being sacrificed for the benefit of war profiteers, shows that there is something sick about our society. Stop lynching this woman just because she loves her country in a different way to yours. Some are against wars in Irak, Afghanistan and a history of American Foreign policy in direct contradiction with the values that the American constitution was designed to uphold. Don't be afraid of dissent, it can stimulate your minds and challenge your preconceptions. That's a good thing. THAT makes you free and it is more powerful than any army of young soldiers, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.

Isn't the ultimate form of patriotism taking a stand to express your beliefs in the face of overwhelming opposition? Should she have simply marched lockstep with the rest because it was the popular thing to do? Should she mimic the jingoism so common in many communities today?

To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

I'm a mother of an honor student at this school. Verani and another teacher simply refrained from applauding the fact that students were about to risk their lives, and silently held a sign which read, "Stop War."

They showed no disrespect to these students, our military or the nation. They did not disrupt the assembly.

It is the backlash which ensued that has been disruptive - not only to the school and its students - but to the concept of free speech.

The assembly was not focused on just these war-bound students. And the silent protest did not detract from the outpouring of support and applause from the audience.

Meanwhile, other students have reacted badly - harassing the teachers and even other students who refuse to jump on the same bandwagon.

Brave? I don't see anything brave about a group of students harassing another to the point where she HAD TO LEAVE SCHOOL! True bravery is respecting our precious right to free speech without resorting to gang-mentality.

I support the troops, not the wars. There's nothing wrong with that sentiment, and there is nothing wrong with teachers expressing their concern that our young people are going to risk their lives in wars - at least one of which should never have been begun in the first place.

I wonder now, if my daughter can wear her peace shirt at school and still come home in one piece, or even be allowed the courtesy of concentrating on her work at school....

The United States Supreme Court and even the ACLU have been undeniably clear about a teacher's right to freedom of speech NOT being protected on public school grounds, when they are being paid as public school employees. Plain and simple - their right to freely speak must be subjugated the principle of neutrality in a public school. It is not a matter of the content or the position of the political propaganda - it is the display or imposition of any political advocacy by public servants.

THAT is the principle which is being mostly ignored.

Beyond that, these two teachers (there were two) showed such a profound lack of judgment that they proved themselves to be unworthy and unequipped to hold positions of influence and authority over children.

I am from Los Angeles but I now live in Yarmouth, MA and I am part of Dennis-Yarmouth Class of 2009. Who ever wrote this story forgot a couple parts. It was not just one teacher. It was two teachers, not only Marybeth Verani, but also Adeline Koscher. With what our town has been through in the past year I am completely SHOCKED at Ms. Verani and Ms. Koscher acted. Actually, I take that back. I'm not shocked. We lost a graduate of the class of 2006 in Afghanistan. His two younger sisters and their father (a yarmouth police officer) were all in that auditorium that day. I cant tell you exactly how they felt, but I do know that they left that assembly crying as well as many other students. They all felt completely disrespected. I just hope people understand that. Its wrong.
-Chip, neither of these two teachers have kids. I can tell you from being in their classes, neither of these women will ever have children. They are both feminists and they believe being married and having children is demeaning to woman's rights.

Ms. verani is my history teacher and sheis suspended until the beginning of next year. And just this week we had finals. Everyone and I mean everyone was so confused about what was on the finals. Many people probably failed because she was not there to explain to us.
Don't punish us for her mistakes this is impacting our grades and it sucks. Completely not FAIR.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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