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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Excerpts from School Law:

Teachers have no First Amendment free-speech protection for curricular decisions they make in the classroom, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.

A little known fact is that the Bill of Rights only applies to the government's criminal power. Employers are not bound by them. Still when the government is the employer courts used to have a tendency to favor applying them to employees. It seems that is a thing of the past. Free speech is a part of a blanket right teachers are trying to keep known as Academic Freedom. The courts have put the last nail in the coffin on that.

The decision came in the case of an Ohio teacher whose contract was not renewed in 2002 after community controversy over reading selections she assigned to her high school English classes. These included Siddhartha , by Herman Hesse, and a unit on book censorship in which the teacher allowed students to pick books from a list of frequently challenged works, and some students chose Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman.

What is not disputed is that these books were a part of the state adopted curriculum. The fact that parents were upset with what was assigned and the student's choices, why is their beef with the teacher and not the state curriculum committee?

"When a teacher teaches, the school system does not regulate that speech as much as it hires that speech," Sutton wrote, borrowing language from a 7th Circuit decision in a similar case. "Expression is a teacher's stock in trade, the commodity she sells to her employer in exchange for a salary. And if it is the school board that hires that speech, it can surely regulate the content of what is or is not expressed, what is expressed in other words on its behalf."

Ok judge, got the message, teach the curriculum we give you, but if parents complain you're on your own. School boards have the right to throw a teacher under the bus. Nice to make it sound better in legalese.

Is anyone in their right mind wanting to enter this profession anymore? How are we going to educate our children when the politicians, courts, parents and students have all the power and the ones with all the responsibility are treated like trash?


Unknown said...

PM: Our culture has gone from Neurotic to Psychotic, as evidenced by this tragic state of affairs. I read Hesse in college, but my professor was not reprimanded. Such a noble profession. And yet, at what price when teachers can't teach because they are handcuffed. Then when respect and discipline are demanded in grade school, junior high or high school, the teachers are threatened with a potential lawsuit by the enabling parents (who are largely absent anyway). This is disturbing. But I'mn glad you've brought it to the forefront.

P M Prescott said...

Michael I'm just venting and you're preaching to the choir. Sanity has left the building.