Teachers to remove Obama buttons

Teachers will take off their “Educators for Obama” buttons in classes at Soquel High in Santa Cruz County, California.

Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers president Barry Kirschen says the teachers were simply exercising what they believed was their right to free expression.

A parent complained.

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  1. deirdremundy says:

    I don’t know… I think it might be helpful for students to know the political biases of their teacher.

    For instance, my 10th grade Social Studies teacher (Current Events.. it covered US History from 1945 to the present(1993)) was a actual, believing COMMUNIST.

    He made no secret of his views and went to great lengths to convince us that the USSR had no imperial ambitions and was just misunderstood, and that the Warsaw pact was a joyous free association, not like the coercive prison that was NATO.

    But since we KNEW he was a communist, we also knew that we had to take his “facts” with a grain of salt and do our own reading on the side.

    Very educational. And we had our chuckles like when he couldn’t explain why someone so concerned about uplifiting the masses chose to work in one of the most-privaledged, highest-paying school districts in the country.

    Also, his personal account of how he spent the Vietnam war in jail for selling pot was truly edifying.

  2. deirdremundy says:

    Of course, these days he’d probably be forced to “teach to the test” and we might have had to learn actual facts instead of folk songs….. but cest la vie…..

    (And it’s one, two, three, what are we fighting four?”

  3. I agree with the parent who complained because I’m concerned about the pressure placed upon high school students when teachers express their political views in the classroom. In history class last year, my teenager believed that if he was able to support his teacher’s political views in any of his essays, it could only help his grade.

    I just heard about a high school teacher who assigned his AP history class to watch Thursday’s debate, and then write an essay evaluating Palin’s performance. Requiring a critique of only one party’s candidate seems unwise, and could certainly be perceived as a partisan assignment.

  4. Where in the world did teachers get they idea that they have a right to say whatever they want in class? They don’t. They shouldn’t. They never have. And as long as we have a pluralistic society, they never will. Why do they have to discover this the hard way? Weren’t they taught about these things in ed school? (Silly question, of course).

    As a teacher I have always considered that the forum provided me is only for the purpose for which I was hired – to teach math, and nothing else. Anything else is abuse of that forum. Since I take my job, and the trust that goes with the job, seriously I will not talk religion in class. That would be an abuse of the forum provided to me for the purpose of teaching math. I will not talk politics in class. I will not get off the subject in any way. As a parent I expect my children’s teachers to adhere to the same high standard.

    My children are grown, and I am happy to report that my children’s teachers, with at most a few minor exceptions, always did adhere to that high standard. The vast majority of teachers are decent people trying to do the right thing. But many of them are not deep thinkers – not even close. Many of them are happy to sing the praises of diversity, while having no inkling of what it takes for a society to manage that diversity. But if many do not understand analytically why wearing political buttons in class is an abuse of the forum they are given, I think most of them do feel that they are violating something.

    I blame ed schools for not giving thought to this sort of thing. It’s important. Public trust is involved. If you don’t think carefully about what that public trust involves, you may violate it.

  5. I think it might be helpful for students to know the political biases of their teacher.

    In Santa Cruz, it’s a given…

  6. Cris –

    Don’t be so sure. The parents complaining about the Obama buttons probably thought that Barack and the Dems are too conservative.

  7. Amen, Brian!

  8. Frank Zavisca says:

    In college in Buffalo (MD, 1965) the SDS was on the campus marching against the war.

    But they were NEVER in the classroom, and the War was not discussed in the classroom.

    NO ONE I remember told the class who to vote for.

  9. I am a public school teacher, and I plan to vote for Obama. I also try to defend public school teachers whenever I can. This time I don’t know how anybody can. This is an embarrassment.

  10. Margo/Mom says:

    Oh Deirdre–you are so young! When I was in high school history pretty much stopped around 1945. There might have been a note or two about the Korean war (history being primarily a string of wars, as it was taught to me)–but you know, the last week of class, not really important (it was contemporary for the teachers, so they assumed we knew it). Vietnam was a current event.

    But there is a common thread of indoctrination–somebody taught you that communists were liars.

    BTW, I’m not sure that being a teacher represents a rejection of uplifting the masses, or an endorsement of capitalism, regardless what public school system one is working for.

  11. How did I get into a profession that has so many libtards? A colleague in my department actually once told me that she considered teaching tantamount to therapy. Well, we’re living in the Age of Oprah, and Obama is Oprah’s candidate, but aren’t teachers supposed to dwell above sentiment, dwell in the realm of logic, analysis and critical thought? Maybe it’s all about the money after all. Or maybe education now serves the heart at the expense of the brain. Then again, since diversity is our new god, skin pigmentation trumps thought and ideology common sense. I do believe that white liberals crave an Obama election much like sinners of old craved absolution.

  12. Robert Wright says:

    Teachers wearing political buttons?

    That’s awfully dumb.

  13. Teaching is a position of authority and trust. In my book, no crime is more egregious than to abuse such a position for your own purposes [resist=”urge to rant”]

    If someone can’t see that wearing their opinions on their sleeve might have an undue influence on their students, perhaps they should consider a career that doesn’t involve information analysis of any kind.

    If they do wish to use their position to influence their students opinions in political matters, then they have no business in any position of authority.

    To put it mildly. [/resist]

  14. Hey, if students can’t have freedoms and rights within schools, then there’s no reason teachers should be allowed to express their beliefs. Right?

    Hall Monitor

  15. Robert Wright says:

    I found the best way to influence my students so they’ll become leftists like me is to educate them.

    In our culture of capitalist indoctrination, knowledge is subversive.

  16. While I have taught Social Studies since Reagan was President, when I am in my classroom, my political views ( as well as religion, personal life, etc.) are my own and none of the business of my students. If they ask, I don’t tell.

    However, I do encourage my students to think. Who would they vote for, were they able to vote. Most have an answer. But when querried as to WHY would they vote for that candidate, most really do not know. That can lead to some interesting, abet brief discussions in my classroom. I say brief because for the most part, current American politics is not in the Standards I am told to teach.

    As for Santa Cruz, well, I am not surprised that many of those teachers would support Senator Obama. You would probably find the same in just about any county around the San Francisco Bay.

  17. Andy Freeman says:

    Remember, these are the folks who claim to be teaching kids good judgement….

  18. For those of you who think that teachers ought to have the right to wear the buttons- would you be okay with teachers in government-run schools prominently wearing a “Jesus Saves” button?

    I agree with Polski3 that teachers ought to keep their political and religious views to themselves inside the classroom.

  19. Bill Leonard says:

    Deidre, when your 10th-grade teacher claimed the Warsaw Pact was a joyous, free association of countries in the worker’s paradise, did any student have the temerity to ask whether, if such was the case, the Soviet Union needed to keep 500,000 troops in East Germany, a country roughly the geographic size of West Virginia? (Yes, we know, the GDR was not an occupied state; the Soviets had been invited to stay…)

    Mr. Wright, if you’re so opposed to “capitalist indoctrination” — and, one presumes, the capitalist system — what system do you so admire that you would replace it?

  20. Robert Wright says:

    Bill, I think people should know how to read and write, to keep an open mind, and think for themselves.

    And I don’t think indoctrination of any kind should substitute for education.

  21. Bill Leonard says:

    Mr. Wright, I certainly agree that folk ought to know how to read and to write, to keep an open mind, and to think for themselves.

    But that was not what your indoctrination comment was about, and frankly, you did not answer the question.


  22. He didn’t answer the question.


  1. […] This item from Joanne Jacobs, about Santa Cruz teachers being asked to remove their Obama buttons while teaching, got me thinking about the pros and cons of teachers displaying their political preferences at school. Is it within their free speech rights to do so? Are they making educationally sound choices? What do you do: do you have evidence of your political preferences displayed on yourself, your classroom, your car? If you do, why? And if you’ve made a conscious choice not to, why not? […]