With understanding and enthusiasm for the democratic process, Virginia Franklin infused several generations of high school students with appreciation for civil liberties and our system of government. Through her efforts, many Marin teens participated in mock political conventions; others had the opportunity to experience government in Sacramento or Washington, D.C.
Beginning teaching after her graduation from UC Berkeley at age nineteen, she always strongly believed in an informed student population, opposing book bans and other restrictions on instructing. Even during a storm of protest in the 1960s when she was attacked for encouraging critical thinking, she remained a fearless teacher of all ideas. Mrs. Franklin successfully survived attacks on her teaching by the John Birch Society, the American Legion, Congressional hearings and nation-wide publicity in Life Magazine. She went on to get a doctorate in education and developed a curriculum for educators on how to teach civics and democracy. Named outstanding teacher of the year in 1982 by the Marin Educational Foundation, she encouraged students to write bills that were actually introduced into Congress. Other honors included Barbara Boxer’s “Women Making History”, the Valley Forge Classroom medal, the constitutional Rights Foundation Award and numerous others.
After retirement, Mrs. Franklin served as an active consultant and mentor for Marin’s Human Rights Resource Center, sharing her experience in education and commitment to democracy. She passed away in 1991.