Monday, October 6, 2008

Why Schools are Seen as Biased

I had no intention of making my first post political. I still don’t. This is put forth not as politics—I’ll let others do that—it is put forth as an example of stupidity. I would be writing this same post if the same action were taken for the other side. Someone who surely has at least a Master’s degree decided to go and make him or herself look like an idiot. No, it is worse: this person makes every educator in the state look like biased and stupid. As you read this, don’t take it from a political standpoint; read it from a logical standpoint.

I read a news article a few days ago about the Virginia Education Association sending out an e-mail telling teachers to wear blue to show support for Barack Obama.

Here is a link to an article about this:

Here is a link to a PDF file that contains the e-mail in question:

I have three years public school teaching experience in Washington State. I have taken an Ed Law class for my certificate, and another as part of a Master’s degree in teaching.

I heard some people suggest that this is illegal. I want to stress that (at least for Washington State and I believe everywhere) this is not illegal.

This is stupid.

Teachers do not leave their constitutional rights at the door when they enter a school building. They can support whatever political position they want to. Teachers can even wear political pins in class, as long as they are reasonable in size and there is no un-due attention drawn thereto. So if teachers want to wear a certain color to support a particular individual, they can. However, teachers cannot use school materials, supplies, or time to promote any political point. Also, the best teachers avoid anything that could be seen as promoting any specific political point. Why would a good teacher want to potentially turn away a student that may not agree with them? As a teacher, I was always extra careful about anything with politics.

In saying the school district did nothing illegal, I am also assuming the students were not told ahead of time or on that day that all these teachers in blue were supporting Senator Obama. Also, the articles I read have made it clear that the teachers were to encourage students to register to vote, but not encourage them to any particular person.

With the assumptions made above, I am taking the teacher’s union at its word. I will leave it to political blogs to judge intent. Even assuming the union is not trying to influence students a certain way, the action is idiotic.

Now, to why this is so stupid.

Schools in general are seen as liberal, teachers as well. I could go on about the reasons for the perception, but that goes beyond my point. I have seen first hand that this perception is not true for individuals any more than other places. It is true that Democrats tend to promise more to teachers than Republicans, so the various unions tend (to use a mild word for it) to support Democrats.

I have worked with many teachers who support all sorts of different political positions. However, the perception that most teachers are liberal is also believed by teachers. When I did my student teaching, my mentor teacher was a Republican. She didn’t tell anyone and I didn’t know it for most of my time with her. She was afraid other teachers would look down on her. She is not unique. Most teachers avoid talking about politics until they are very comfortable with the people with whom they are speaking.

I can imagine how exposed a teacher would feel if everyone else wore blue and that teacher did not. Suddenly that teacher would be very obvious. The teacher would be singled out and everyone would know that teacher was different. Some teachers would probably wear the blue to avoid trouble. It is stupid to set up a day where teachers suddenly have to be pitted against each other or go against their beliefs to keep the peace.

It is also stupid for the union to encourage this wearing of blue because the reason for it will always get to the public. If the person responsible did not know it would become public, that person does not deserve a grade school diploma, not to mention making policy for a teacher’s union. What was the person thinking? Can you imagine the brainstorming session? “Alright, let’s come up with something that will make the public think we are even more liberal than they already think we are, and thereby we can possibly put any bond and levy votes at risk.”

I was shocked when I read about this policy. I know people who would think up such idiotic stunts, but I would expect someone with common sense to stop the idea before it was implemented.

Plus, wouldn’t a bunch of people in blue look like Smurfs?

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