Skip to comments.Teachers, keep your politics on Kavanaugh hearings out of classroom
Posted on 10/16/2018 9:04:59 AM PDT by yesthatjallen
On the heels of the Kavanaugh hearings, some teachers have wondered aloud via Twitter how they should handle the contentious topic in their classrooms. While some teachers have no interest in touching the issue with a 10-foot pole, others may find it nearly impossible not to make mention of an event that consumed the nation for weeks. But we can learn a lot about how one educator in particular asked the Twitterverse for suggestions.
Im a teacher, and I dont know what Im going to say to my students if Kavanaugh gets confirmed. Do I tell them that this country doesnt take sexual assault seriously? Do I tell them that truth and integrity dont matter? What do I say? asked Nicholas Ponticello.
Speaking as a parent, Id have a huge problem if these were the best ideas my kids teacher could muster on how to discuss a topic that is complex, highly partisan, and very painful for many, not to mention far afield of his professional wheelhouse. Mr. Ponticello is a high school math teacher. And while many will say and have said that his only job is to teach math, I disagree. His responsibilities as an adult who spends his days with kids do extend beyond fractions and coefficients. But these additional responsibilities do not include injecting his personal politics or biases into the classroom, especially not in a way that may alienate some students and by extension, their parents who undoubtedly hold a starkly different opinion than he.
If I saw this tweet online and Mr. Ponticello was a teacher of one of my children, Id be wary of the Kavanaugh discussions unless I knew that a free and open exchange of ideas could and would happen. And a conversation like that is incredibly hard to initiate and moderate on any topic, let alone one as sensitive and fractious as this. On the one hand, Mr. Ponticello is a private citizen and has the right to say what he wants online. And nothing about the tweet would bother me if it didnt indicate that a) he had plans to try to explain a country that would allow Brett Kavanaughs confirmation to the Supreme Court and b) its not clear that thered be much room for nuance or opposing views.
Unsurprisingly, the thousands of responses Mr. Ponticello received reflect wide range of opinions because teachers across America are far from an ideological or pedagogical monolith.
Here is a small taste of the more than 8,000 replies:
Nick, as a retired History and Government Teacher, I would present a factual timeline of events, (and eliminate all spin) and allow them 2 decide for themselves. Remember, a thousand questions are better than one good answer. It may take an entire period, block, or day, but do it, wrote Steve Georgeff.
Said Sylvia Chan-Malik: Remind them of history. Had class morning after election, my students were crying, despondent. Said think about the 60s, murders of Medgar Evers(63), Malcolm X(65), MLK (68), Fred Hampton (69), entire gen of Black leaders jailed, silenced. Said, We fight. We always fight.
I would suggest an unslanted view of government. No matter how you stand politically it is wrong to offer a bias perspective to students of any age. You are a critical figure in their lives, teach them how to see both sides and make up their own mind, offered Chris Gubbrud.
And from an educator who identifies herself as Michele@mca4ham: I know exactly what youre feeling, cried at school day Trump won. Impress upon them importance of voting, no matter which side they are on. How to be active citizens. How to be critical thinkers and how to evaluate media sources. Make sure they know they can pre-register to vote.
Suffice it to say that there are countless parents, some of whom I know personally, who would be high-fiving Mr. Ponticello for the sole reason that they happen to share his views about Justice Kavanaugh. But I know just as many parents who would have a major problem with his tweet and who, if feeling generous, would advise him to stick to teaching math. Others, in a less forgiving mood, would be calling for his job. Parents have strong and varied ideas about the role of teachers and personal politics in classrooms.
So lets flip the script. Lets imagine a more politically conservative teacher who sent out a similar tweet in search of advice but followed by these very differently framed questions: Im a teacher, and I dont know what Im going to say to my students if Kavanaugh gets confirmed. Do I tell them that due process no longer matters in this country and that people are now presumed guilty instead of innocent? Do I tell them that corroboration and consistency of testimony dont matter?
This tweet would have those who align more with Mr. Ponticello seething and likely accusing the district of hiring a rape apologist to teach children. But if we are to believe that teachers should bring their politics and activism into the classroom, it seems that we need to include all teachers and all opinions. I know more than a few teachers whose tweets would more closely resemble my hypothetical than the one Mr. Ponticello posted.
Mr. Ponticello told The 74, I really feel that civics is the No. 1 most important thing we can teach our students. You cant just bury your head in the sand just because youre the adult in the room. He acknowledges that educators are expected to keep their biases at bay in the classroom and that these conversations are tricky.
Tricky is an understatement. And if his tweet is any indication of what a classroom discussion would be like, then, as a parent, Id prefer he stick to math.
Erika Sanzi, a mother of three sons, taught in public schools in Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island. She writes about education issues for Education Post and The Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Why do teachers now believe they have a 'duty' or a 'right' to 'share' their thoughts and opinions with their students?
“...Why do teachers now believe they have a ‘duty’ or a ‘right’ to ‘share’ their thoughts and opinions with their students?...”
The classroom is their little protected world in which they live. And that liberal bubble that protects them is their perspective and world view.
Our College President sent out an email stating that “our democracy is in crisis,” referring to the BK confirmation. She identified counselors on campus to help students and staff deal it. I doubt she means me.
High school students are pretty familiar with the make out and hook up culture.
I didn't either, even in college. The only time I remember any reaction or emotion was when my first grade teacher had to go home early on November 22, 1963 because she was so upset about JFK's assassination. In fact, so many teachers went home that they let all of us out early that day.
Throughout my school years through the 60s and 70s I never had any of my teachers get involved in political BS.
Because they are in a union. That union is an extension of the Party. The Party has a mission, and indoctrinating kids is central to that mission.
As such, teaching math is not this guy’s primary responsibility. Indoctrinating kids is his primary responsibility.
I walked onto the University of Washington campus a month ago after not having visited in a while. Go to the bookstore and you’ll be aghast at what its become.
It is all in for political indoctrination. It is not at all for education. There is ZERO intellectual, ideological, or political diversity on that campus. I would never send my children there, even for free.
At my sons high school his history class has a “current events” discussion every week. the teacher injects his liberal opinion and then all the liberal kids in the class speak out about their views. Everyone else either doesn’t care or is too afraid to to talk
I have to deprogram the garbage they spew every week. I am going to complain when the school year is up— I don’t want to do it now because I don’t want the teacher or the liberal kids bullying him (a real possibility in today’s world with liberals being the intolerant hatemongers they are)
You had teachers today they are indoctrinators
Most teachers are lefties. They got into teaching so as to fill the little heads with mush.
I’d ask him if he’d be uncomfortable with teachers who supported Kavanaugh teaching his kids about civics while in math class. If he is, and of course he would be, then he should keep his opinions to himself.
Also - if “civics is the most important thing we can teach” then why does he teach math? Go teach civics.
Teach your students not to lie.
I teach (taught) social studies. All levels from remedial to Advanced Placement college level. Almost the entire social studies curriculum except for African American Studies and European A.P. Studies.
For thirty years, I started my year off with this little monologue (same for both high school and middle school levels):
Everything in Life is a SUBJECT. Discuss all side of a subject will create an ISSUE and that's good. Discuss one side of a subject creates an AGENDA and that's always bad. You have had agendas run on you for the entirety of your lives and don't even know it.
I'll prove it to you in a moment but I want to preface that with this observation: Most of the folks who run these agendas do so out of a sense of love for you. They may be parents or clergy or other people who care for you. They may have thought, in the past, that you were too young to comprehend the complexities of these various subjects.
Well, now you're but steps from college (or in the case of a middle school, facing a much bigger environment next year that will be difficult to safely navigate unless you start thinking about this now) and you need to start forming your own opinions based on your own sense of values. I'm not here to tell you right or wrong.
These are issues to be discussed. This is a HISTORY class and I will give you the unvarnished truth of the history we will cover. And history is ALWAYS an ugly thing because it is predicated on the actions of people with faults who are imperfect. History is VIOLENT and BIGOTED and full of betrayals and romance and intrigue. In short it's exactly like the best movie you ever saw, but more realistic.
Now, my proof. By a show of hands, how many people in this room have EVER heard a teacher, counselor or administrator say anything GOOD about firearms? Wait, NOBODY? EVER? But... shooting is an Olympic Sport. And the shooting industry is the only one to have consistently grown over the last many years (for the Obama and the Clinton eras). It's also a professional competitive sport that earns the same kind of money that other sports can bring for it's size.
Okay, here's more proof: Same deal. By a show of hands how many of you have ever had a Teacher, counselor or administrator say anything BAD about the United Nations? What? NO AGAIN? Nobody? That ladies and gentlemen is proof positive of two AGENDAS at work. The UN is a group known as the Dictators Club. The majority of them hate us and would happily see our destruction if our wealth and resources could be redistributed among themselves.
There are going to be certain immutable facts in this course. Those are not open for argument. Example: Florida became a state on March 3rd 1845. Just fact. It was also the third state to leave the union to join the Confederacy. Why that happened could be up for discussion. Also, the state capital of Tallahassee was the only Confederate capital never captured by the Yankees. Why that happened could be up for discussion. But you'll have to do YOUR research and be able to back up every assertion you make in this class.... Because we don't operate on knee jerk emotionalism at all.
And that was my basic spiel for all those years. It is of no surprise that I was not well liked by most administrators and many of my "colleagues." But my fellow conservatives all stuck together, especially those of us who spent time in the military during various eras.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.