High-schoolers get face time with extremists in class

High-schoolers get face time with extremists in class
In this Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, photo students listen as social studies teacher Jonathan Duffy, center, co-leads the introductory class of their American Thought and Political Radicalism course alongside fellow Judi Galasso at Thomas Worthington High School, in Worthington, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

WORTHINGTON, Ohio (AP) — Clashes of disparate ideas like last week’s videotaped encounter at the Lincoln Memorial wouldn’t catch students off guard who’ve taken Judi Galasso’s political radicalism class.

The Thomas Worthington High School teacher has invited members of America’s most extreme political groups — from the National Socialist Movement to the Weather Underground — into her classroom to engage with students for three decades.

“Poli-rad” has been a social studies offering in the suburban Columbus district steadily since the politically tumultuous 1970s. The speaker series has generated excitement, sparked protests and left classrooms at turns shaken, emboldened or inspired over the decades.

Galasso and co-teacher Jonathan Duffy say the goal is teaching students to encounter and question unfamiliar ideas with respect while building critical thinking skills.