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Wisconsin Activist Teacher's Paul Ryan Snub Explained

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

When I watched the video of the Wisconsin teacher snubbing Congressman Paul Ryan, I knew instantly he was little more than an activist teacher seizing his moment. Respect-be-damned, it was his moment to stick it to an ideological foe. He became an instant folk hero for leftists.

But the silliness was nothing new for Racine teacher Al Levie. He has a history of using students in his personal political agenda.

Case in point is an article Levie penned for the National Education Association magazine, NEA Today, titled, “Don’t Scold, Organize!” He concluded it by writing:

“By engaging students in real-life issues and encouraging them to act on a political level, we will transform schools into places where authentic learning takes place.

“At the same time, we will help our students become engines of positive change in our society.”

Levie wants his students to be fellow rabble rousers, and what better way than to stick to a political foe right in front of them?

The incident with Ryan, however, is only the most recent example he has set for his students.

In June, 2011, Levie was kicked out of a Wisconsin Senate Finance Committee hearing for standing in the front and reading a statement. He was literally carried out by police.

In 2009, Levie participated in (organized?) a protest outside Ryan’s office. The Racine Post explained it this way:

“Horlick teacher Al Levie, known for organizing high school students in political movements, was part of the crowd.”

Levie’s 2004 vote project was canceled when it was discovered the event – oops! – was just for one political party. The Journal Times reported:

“The get out the vote project planned by Horlick High School students has been canceled.

“Racine Unified School District Superintendent Thomas Hicks said what started out to be a class-related activity last week turned out to be a partisan event. The decision to cancel the event was made Monday morning after he learned the facts had changed and it was no longer a bipartisan endeavor.”

Levie’s response?

“We're not teaching kids good values when a learning experience can be canceled by partisan politics,” Levie said.

On a school day in 2009, the high school teacher bussed students to the state capitol for a protest against out-of-state tuition being charged to illegal immigrants. The Racine Post reported:

“Their demands: Remove unfair restrictions on tuition and drivers licenses that discriminate against undocumented workers in Wisconsin. Most of the students were members of Students United for Immigrant Rights, a group founded at Horlick High School in 2005.”

This appears to get to the nub of Levie’s personal view. Consider his quote from NEA Today. Levie believes that the purpose of schools is to turn students into change agents, and he sets the example with his childish antics aimed at Congressman Paul Ryan.

So while only 57% of Racine Unified high school students are proficient in social studies, I’m willing to bet 100% of them could find Congressman Ryan’s office to protest.

That sad reality will leave students with a one-sided perspective on American policy, and likely little insight into Ryan’s conservative thought.

But that’s “real world” teaching according to Al Levie.

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