There's every indication that this heated presidential race will go down to the wire when voters have their say in November.

The political caldron, destined to boil over by the end of summer, is already heating up.

A good indication of how polarizing the race for the White House is and will become occurred in a North Carolina classroom when a student and his teacher got into a verbal exchange over President Obama and his likely GOP opponent Mitt Romney. The faceoff was caught on tape, went viral, and the school district ended up suspending the teacher.

The debate erupted during a social studies class in the Rowan-Salisbury School District. It involved a current events discussion about the news media reporting that Romney had bullied a person in his high school 47 years ago.

When the student, Hunter Rogers, challenged the teacher, saying that he thought President Obama had also acknowledged that he bullied someone in high school, his teacher replied that she didn't know of any such comment. (Obama actually described it in his book "Dreams from My Father.")

The audio reveals the teacher shouting at the student "That's disrespect!"

The student then replied that "You're disrespecting Romney!"

"How's that disrespect?" the teacher screamed. "He's not the president! You will not disrespect the President of the United States in this classroom!"

When the teacher told Rogers that he could get arrested for disrespecting and slandering Obama, he reminded her that he was only questioning, and did not threaten the president. He said he was entitled to voice his views under his First Amendment right to free speech.

After the tape of the teacher's rant against the student went viral, district school officials suspended her and launched an investigation.

Rogers' mother had heard her son complain before about the teacher berating and putting down students who disagreed with her pro-Obama views but said she didn't think it was that extreme until she heard the tape of the teacher screaming at her son.

She said the teacher shouldn't have started a political discussion without being willing to hear both sides.

We agree. After hearing the audio clip of the exchange, it's apparent that the teacher lost it while launching her tirade against the student and that she was unable to keep her personal political feelings from pervading an open classroom discussion.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com