Should teachers be able to express political views?

Grace Fay and Gigi Wade

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Let it out.

Teachers should be able to express their political opinions in class for the advancement of students education.

Our generation forming is opinions during an interesting time. Our president thinks nazis are “very fine people”, the governor of Illinois has the state trapped in one of the worst budget crises of all time, and the human race is killing the planet.

As students, we are still developing our views. Places that influence those views the most include school and home. No one controls information students gain at home, therefore students get most of their new ideas at school. How do students get in contact with informed opinions? Informed adults.

After the 2016 election, many teachers felt the need to express their political opinions to their classes. It was hard not to in such a tense and polarizing political environment. Political expression has continued throughout the presidency of Trump.

Political expression has been questioned by some students and parents. There is an opinion that teachers should be objective in the class, but that takes away a vital part of a student’s education.

School is the central place where students can form their opinions and learn to defend them. Whether discussion is about something a student disagrees with or another point of view they didn’t get from their parents, teachers’ political opinions show new ideas and perspectives that will help students become their own independent person/

Teachers also shouldn’t hold back when they hear about something they disagree with. Teachers, as citizens of a very politically divided country, should be able to speak out when they hear something they don’t agree with. Although, it’s important to bring up reasons and evidence to back their view and to not punish students who hold a different opinion.

Learning new opinions is a vital part of a person’s academic and civic education. It is a disservice to student’s education if this is not allowed and in contradiction to everything ETHS stands for.

 

 

Zip it.

For years, school districts have faced a choice: allow teachers to openly discuss their beliefs in front of students or make them conceal their political opinions. After the 2016 presidential election, the political climate became so polarized that many opted to do the former without realizing the damage that it entails. When teachers openly express their views in front of classes and don’t present the facts objectively, students have no room to develop their own positions on important issues.

The problem isn’t creating a political classroom, it’s creating a partisan one. In fact, conversations about the government and policy should be required in school- education is not education if we don’t have a good understanding of the actions that our country takes. However, it is not fair for teachers to create an environment in which their bias is known because it makes students who disagree uncomfortable, and sometimes hide their beliefs in the future.

 There is, however, a necessary distinction that must be made between teachers actively advocating for the agenda of one party and executive intervention in situations where students are participating in bigotry. If a child is openly spewing racist remarks, it of course is no longer a question of being left, right, or centrist when a teacher tells them to stop – it is a question of morality.

By far the biggest problem with a partisan classroom is that attending school is compulsory and teachers are inherently authoritative figures, so they will always have a captive audience in that setting. Consequently, the classroom is a space where educators have freedom to discuss whatever they want with little to no resistance from students – it is a unique power differential that must not be abused.

Discourse between parties is a good thing, but discussions in school must be student-led to allow and encourage critical thinking. Effective education in such a divisive era can only occur with an impartial teacher.