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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 05/21/2010

Prof to students: Campaign for me, skip final exam

By Valerie Strauss

Here’s another in the you-can't-make-up-this-stuff annals:

A Florida state legislator who is also a tenured professor at Valencia Community College in Kissimmee offered his political science students a choice: They could skip their final exam if they agreed to volunteer for his campaign or for other candidates.

The offer by State Rep. John Tobia, a Melbourne Republican, occurred in 2008 but recently came to light in a recent article by Florida Today, and then in a formal complaint against Tobia, filed this month by a Malabar, Fl., councilwoman with the state Commission on Ethics.

Twenty students wound up volunteering for him, six helped other candidates. One student who initially complained to the school said she was not given a choice to volunteer for someone other than Tobia, according to a school memo from a dean who investigated the case and was included in the complaint.

School officials told him he couldn’t waive the final exam, and told him to keep his students out of his life outside class, but took no other action, according to Florida Today.

One more thing: Tobia is running for reelection.

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By Valerie Strauss  | May 21, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Tags:  final exam and tobia, higher education, rep. tobia and complaint, tobia, tobia and students  
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I don't see a problem with this. Lots of colleges offer credit for service learning. As long as students could choose to volunteer for any candidate, then it is a great example of service learning. If a student wanted to take a final exam, perhaps to raise his or her grade, that was still an option. It's a poli-sci class, in which seeing the internal elements of a campaign is totally relevant.

Posted by: drl97 | May 21, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Hmmmm...sounds a little close to a lesson in possibly 'dirty politics'....If I had been a student, I would have been afraid to campaign for someone other than the professor, fearing that my grade would be affected.

Maybe there needs to be a course on political ethics - or is that an oxymoron?

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | May 21, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Had he said they could skip the final exam by volunteering for a political campaign, he'd have a leg to stand on. Cannot anyone see the clear abuse of power in his own campaign??? I've no idea what party the fellow follows, but he should be both defeated and fired.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 22, 2010 12:22 AM | Report abuse

In college I had a professor who offered extra credit to anyone who would attend a court hearing (as a spectator, of course). And I knew of classes where the final exam could be waived in favor of certain other projects or certain grades. This professor's problems were 1) he apparently didn't clear it with the administration and 2) including his own campaign did raise the question of the students' freedom to choose their politics. (I would certainly have hesitated to campaign for his opponent!) As for the student who said she wasn't given the choice to campaign for anyone else, it seems strange that others were. Maybe she should try listening in class--or studying so she didn't mind taking the exam.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | May 22, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

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