Is NZEI encouraging democracy or influencing votes?

Schools have always taught students about how democracy works and held mock elections. Some have even gone as far as to bring real politicians into the school in order for the children to listen to them and interact with them.

Now, however, the Primary Teachers Union NZEI has produced a video to encourage their members to get their students to bring their adult family members with them to vote. They are encouraging their membership to provide transport to the voting booths as well as support for the adults from the teachers to ” help” them vote when they get there.

This is dangerous territory as the adults they are targeting are adults who do not understand how to vote, have never voted, do not feel involved in the voting process and are uninformed about the different political parties. By using their students to get the adults to the voting booths the NZEI are able to influence how the adults vote.

Firstly the students are instructed about politics and the different political parties by the teachers. They are exposed to the politicians that the teachers chose to bring into the school as guest speakers. They are exposed to the bias of their teachers and most primary aged students will look up to and be guided by their teacher’s opinions. They, in turn, will then pass these views onto the non-voting adults in their families who have no idea who to vote for or even how to vote. The adults will be influenced by what their children tell them.

Secondly, the adults will feel grateful to the teachers for the free transport to the voting booths. There will be a sense of obligation. They will need the teacher’s help to vote and are likely to be influenced by them. Many will be doing it to make their children happy and will not care who they vote for. Most will be politically?ignorant so are likely to vote how the teachers suggest as they like their children will look up to the “educated” teachers.

I know some one in the rest home industry who has watched ” good Samaritans ” who turn up to help rest home residents vote. This often results in the good Samaritans getting multiple votes for their party of choice as many of the elderly have dementia and are not capable of making a decision.

The same thing occurs in families that have an adult child who is mentally handicapped. They have the right to vote regardless of how mentally disabled they are so this, in reality, means that their mothers or fathers get two votes come election time.

The parents of the children may not have dementia or be mentally handicapped but they are at serious risk of being influenced by members of the NZEI through their children. I think that this campaign is a step too far. What do you think?