Monday, May 14, 2007

You Shut Your Mouth

From an article on an Indiana school teacher who lost her job when she said she honked for peace in response to a student's question about her views toward the Iraq war:

As far as the courts are concerned, "public education is inherently a situation where the government is the speaker, and ... its employees are the mouthpieces of the government," said Vikram Amar, a professor at UC's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Whatever academic freedom exists for college teachers is "much, much less" in public schools, he said.
Glad he distinguished a bit between college-level and lower-level teachers, since Amar teaches at a public school where I never heard a professor hesitate much before espousing personal political views. Because clearly, for Hastings anyway, there was never a problem with this kind of expression in the classroom - academic environment be damned.*

*I do think the situations are distinguishable - if a teacher is asked a question direcly, a teacher should be able to answer, if able and willing. Contrast that with a situation where a professor decides to wax poetic about whatever political view moves him or her that day.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I wonder if she would have been fired/lost her job if she or the school organized a letter writing campaign to "support the troops" or leading the class in a prayer for whomever.

Viewpoint discrimination, i.e. allowing one perspective (i.e. prowar), but not another (anti-war) is not permissible in most contexts. And fer cryin' out loud, the question was asked duirng a discussion of an article in the kid's edition in Time, part of accepted school carriculum.

(profusely)vomit(/profusely)Sorry, turns out I threw up a lot.

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