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McCain School Event Moved, Averting Controversy

By Alyson Klein — September 09, 2008 1 min read
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John McCain and Sarah Palin were originally scheduled to hold a rally at in Fairfax High School in northern Virginia. tomorrow. But they canceled - not because some folks raised questions about whether the building should be used for a political event while school while school in session - but because the school’s gym is too small, apparently. It holds about 6,500 people, according to the Associated Press.

A nice side benefit: In switching locations, the campaign is side-stepping what looked like a potentially sticky squabble over whether the school can hold a political rally during academic hours at all. It’s against district policy, but superintendent Jack D. Dale was willing to let it slide, because he thought the event would be a great learning opportunity for students.

Dale and the mayor of Fairfax, a Republican, said that the school allowed the Obama campaign to hold a rally at another school in the district in July. School wasn’t in session then, but an arts program and some other activities were going on.

Still, this WashingtonPost story quotes some teachers saying that they felt squeamish about the political message the event would send. And a Democratic state delegate said she thought the rally could be very partisan, since an e-mail advisory announcing it encouraged folks to show up wearing something red, to show that Virginia will stay in the GOP column in November.

But as an education reporter who lives and works within driving distance of the school, I’m kinda bummed they switched locations. It would have been fun to check it out and see if any kids came to school dressed in head-to-blue or in “Yo’ Mama for Obama” t-shirts.

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