Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This time the conservative is right

While browsing through Joanne's site today, I came across this article about teachers who were wearing "Educators for Obama" buttons to school. How dumb can you get?

It would be bad enough if it was just one teacher who was foolish and unprofessional enough to push his political beliefs while in the classroom teaching high school kids, but apparently there were a number of them. What makes it even worse is that it took a parent complaint to get them to put their buttons away. Couldn't anyone else in that building figure out that there was something wrong with what they were doing?

Last week I complained about a conservative nut-case who was using his child to push his political agenda and to get a little ink in the press. The reason he gave was that public schools are "full of liberal loons." It is unfortunate that some people in our profession provide support for statements like that.

11 Comments:

Blogger ms-teacher said...

I've worn my Obama shirt to school. Personally, I don't see a problem with it.

10/01/2008 3:45 PM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

I don't wear political buttons to school, or anywhere else. I did put one on my site. I work with a guy who has maybe a dozen NRA shirts, though, and they don't bother me. When Clinton was Prez he used to wear one saying "Charlton Heston is my President."

I don't really care about that, and honestly, I don't see why I can't wear a political button if I want to. The thing is, though, that I don't. I don't put them on my lawn or my car either.

But I don't much care what other people do. The kids are too young to vote anyway.

10/01/2008 3:57 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Ms. Teacher and NYC Educator, I have to admit that I'm very touchy about this. There is no argument I've heard more often by parents who are public school critics than the argument that public schools are trying to indoctrinate kids to a liberal philosophy that they don't believe in. If that's going on, they've got a valid point. I do think we should be teaching things like tolerance and concern for the environment, and those things are viewed by some people as "liberal," but when we start endorsing candidates, we're stepping over the line.

At the high school level, it seems to me that we should be encouraging kids to think for themselves. One of the most liberal teachers I've ever known was also one of the best teachers I've ever known, but the kids could never figure out if he was a Democrat or Republican. I think that's the way it always should be.

10/02/2008 2:39 AM  
Anonymous Betty said...

I always kept my political views to myself at school. Most students think just like their parents anyway. I think my sixth graders kind of enjoyed guessing who I supported in the elections.

10/02/2008 5:24 AM  
Blogger JoeP said...

Dennis wrote "...the kids could never figure out if he was a Democrat or Republican. I think that's the way it always should be."

As a fellow High School teacher, I completely agree! I've always challenged my students to try and figure out which way I'm leaning/voting and will tell them after the election. (I approach it as being able to talk to an adult about why they voted the way they do.) And a few astute students figure it out.

My son currently has a Senior Government teacher (a colleague of mine) who most of the class is convinced is a staunch supporter of the party opposite his personal political beliefs. My son grins ear to ear, as he knows the truth from hearing many years of comments and conversations while growing up. Our job is to get them to think for themselves, not to indoctrinate.

Now I do tend to emphasize certain conservative principles in American History, but that is another story...

Joe

10/02/2008 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Andres Esquivel said...

For those of you who say you don't see a problem with it, you don't get it.

It's not whether you like the laws or not, you're simply breaking the laws. Teachers are not supposed to campaign on public school grounds.

10/02/2008 5:37 PM  
Blogger mazenko said...

In Colorado, that sort of thing would be a violation of the Fair Campaign Act. According to this legislation, it is inappropriate for a teacher, when acting in a professional mode and a position of authority, to promote a specific political agenda.

It makes perfect sense to me. The political leanings of a teacher do not belong in the classroom, and teachers must exercise some degree of professional integrity. According to Colorado's law, a teacher can answer any questions that students pose in terms of beliefs, but they cannot promote them

My students rarely discern my positions.

10/03/2008 7:49 PM  
Blogger Urban School Teacher said...

Teachers should not open the door to criticism so easily. I am usually willing to give an honest, personal answer to questions posed by students, parents and colleagues but, as Mazenko says, the work place - and perhaps schools in particular - is not a platform for promoting personal beliefs.

10/04/2008 3:03 AM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

I like Joe P's comment about giving students that chance to talk to an adult about why they vote as they do - a very valuable thing for teachers to do! I do see the concern but here is a side of the issue not yet identified: perhaps it is a good thing to have students see that their teacher is involved in current issues and is willing to take a personal stand. The reputation of the teacher [i.e. respected 30 vet social studies teacher vs newbie math teacher], the level [high school or elementary] and perhaps the subject taught should figure into personal decisions.
I was always open to answer student questions but also tried to be honest about the good and bad points of all sides of an issue.

10/05/2008 8:24 AM  
Blogger Deb S. said...

Teachers should not wear their political buttons and T-shirts in the classroom. To me, it's a no-brainer. Interesting and timely post.

10/05/2008 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Blake said...

One of my goals in teaching is to get my students to learn how to think for themselves. They won't always have Mrs. Blake around to tell them the answers, so they must do it themselves.
I certainly wouldn't wear a political emblem, or talk politics (I taught high school science)with my students because I want them to think for themselves.
However, if they ask me point blank, about my political opinion, I might answer, (and I have in the past), but clarifying that "This is must my opinion and you're entitled to your own." But I wouldn't advertise it.

10/07/2008 1:37 PM  

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