New York City’s teachers’ union, which has endorsed Barack Obama for president, has filed suit demanding the right to wear political buttons on the job. The American Federation of Teachers says it’s a free speech issue.
The Education Department, which runs the city’s public schools, issued a memo telling school staffers to “maintain a posture of complete neutrality with respect to all candidates” while on duty.
Ann Forte, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said that courts have ruled that teachers do not have an “unfettered right to express their personal views at school.”
“We don’t want a school or school staff advocating for any political position or candidate to students, and we don’t want students feeling intimidated because they might hold a different belief or support a different candidate than their teachers,” Ms. Forte said in a statement.
Teachers shouldn’t push partisan politics in class, writes Stanley Fish on a New York Times blog.
If I look out and see Heather and Kevin turning themselves into advertisements for a candidate, my behavior doesn’t alter at all; but if they look up and see me announcing where I stand, they might well alter their behavior in ways of which they are not even aware. Faculty advocacy, even if it is technically silent, distorts and pollutes the educational process.
Like Eduwonk, which has more links, I think this is an obvious point.