Hunter Rogers was sitting in his high school social studies class when his teacher began talking about Mitt Romney being a bully when he was in high school. Even though that story has been discredited, the teacher wanted to engage the students in a dialogue about it. Hunter asked if Barack Obama had ever bullied anyone (by his own admission, the president once pushed a girl).
The teacher responded that she didn’t know, and somehow ended up on a tirade about how wrong it is to slander the president by asking him the same questions you might ask Mitt Romney. She went so far as to tell Hunter and his classmates that you can be arrested for slandering the president.
Hunter got the whole exchange on tape.
The North Carolina teen had asked a classmate to record the exchange so that he could prove to his parents that this particular teacher was not teaching, but bullying kids to adopt her own political point of view. This was not a teaching moment. She told the students that they could be arrested for openly disagreeing with the president. Last I checked, this America, not Soviet Russia, and the First Amendment contains an explicit protection of free speech.
This teacher is either lying to her students, or if she actually believes what she said, too incompetent to be a teacher. The school has since suspended her with pay. No word on whether she will be reinstated, educated further on the subject she is supposed to be teaching, or if she’ll remain on the payroll indefinitely without even pretending to work.
Teachers that engage students in political discussions need to be open to letting kids explore their own ideologies and develop their own beliefs. They should not be biased, but factual. The kids they are teaching are students, not subjects to be verbally beaten into political submission.
Talking over kids trying to raise valid questions about candidates teaches them that political discourse is really a monologue. America is a place where everyone is free to voice his or her own opinion, regardless of who agrees or disagrees with it. You’d think a social studies teacher would know that.
Image via Cherice/Flickr