Politics in School: Should These Conversations Be Allowed in Class?

December 7, 2020

Politics in School: Should These Conversations Be Allowed in Class?

Many teachers fear the discussion of politics in a classroom setting as they must be politically neutral at all times, but sometimes, it may be difficult especially in a class that contains students who are deeply engaged in politics. Many teachers who have attempted to express their political views have been terminated as their only job is to help students think critically about certain situations, but not tell them what they should think. Some students may also become intimidated to express their opinions if an authority figure, in this case, their teacher, was to openly disagree with them.

Teachers are actually allowed to express their views. According to David Lattig, Assistant Superintendent of Turlock Unified School District, he explained that “Teachers don’t have to avoid political issues”. Lattig also states, “If political or other controversial issues arise, they [teachers] are required to maintain a neutral position thus ensuring the free exchange of ideas.” According to Lattig, if a teacher were to not be neutral then, “Teachers would be reminded of their role as educators and the importance of fostering critical thinking rather than teaching students what to think.” Teachers are allowed to throw their ideas up for discussion from a neutral stance which may be challenging at times. 

With so many reports made by students against teachers being biased, it has created a sense of fear in teachers when it comes to bringing up controversial topics. According to Mr. Rabine, a Government/Economics teacher here at Turlock High explained that teachers had received numerous emails from the school district that mentioned how they should remain politically neutral. Rabine then went on to discuss his own experience of being reported. As he states,“…just last year I was accused of Trump Bashing after a discussion in class following watching the 2019 State of the Union Address. I did not agree with the assessment and told them [the student] that.” Teachers in classes that involve political discussion are finding it difficult to bring any political topic up as it may be a sensitive subject to a student. 

Although many teachers do not have to necessarily worry about political/controversial topics in class, in classes such as Government or Economics, these topics are crucial learning subjects. As many teachers are reported yearly for being biased, it is important to remember how difficult it may be for a teacher to remain politically unbiased considering how emotions and politics have always been linked to one another.

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