Maccas war enters Maclean High

TEACHERS at Maclean High School have been accused of manipulating students into protesting against the Yamba McDonald’s development application before Clarence Valley Council.

A parent of two MHS students said both his children were asked by two separate teachers to sign protest letters on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

The concerned parent, who asked not to be named, said his son’s class was asked to copy down a letter written on the whiteboard by his teacher, which would then be collected and sent to Clarence Valley Council.

But, the father said, when his son objected, saying he agreed with a McDonald’s for Yamba, his views were dismissed out of hand and the teacher then refused to accept the boy’s letter in support of the proposal.

In a letter to the school’s principal, Tony Carr, the student expressed his disgust at his teacher’s behaviour.

“I am abhorred that (teacher) believes that it is an acceptable tactic to get children ... to duplicate her politically motivated views and send the letters to Council,” the letter said.

“The action of vetting the letters and only sending letters that agreed with (the teacher’s) position has damaged the democratic process that (the teacher) is aspiring to use.

“I know of students who dutifully copied the letter, even though they had opposing views, but did so because of (the teacher’s) position of power and trust as a teacher.

“I found this experience very intimidating and discriminating as (the teacher) treated me differently to all of the other members of the class because I had a different opinion than (the teacher).”

Speaking yesterday to The Daily Examiner, the boy’s father said his daughter was asked to sign a photocopied form letter objecting to the Yamba McDonald’s the following day.

He said the girl had a similar experience of being shouted down in the class when she objected.

“These teachers have polluted the whole process,” said the man, who said he didn’t object to political debate in schools providing all sides of arguments were explored.

“There is no place in education for this type of blatant manipulation of students.”

He asked that he and his children not be named so as to avoid any unfair treatment from the teachers in question.

Clarence Valley Council’s acting deputy general manager Dave Morrison said yesterday the council would consider all submissions presented to it because it had no way to accurately judge how each was produced.

Mr Morrison said about 60 submissions, most of them opposing the development, had been received so far. He said the closing date for submissions had been extended to April 23.

The Department of Education was asked for a comment yesterday but, due to school holidays, could not contact Mr Carr to investigate the matter. A spokesman for the department said he had left several messages on Mr Carr’s mobile phone but had been unable to locate a land line number.

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