Each day millions of parents send their children to schools where teachers are ignorant, or disobedient, to the restrictions of what and how they can teach in the classroom. Topics such as religion, politics, and other controversial issues are being portrayed unequally, infringing upon student’s right to a fair view on the world around them.
Students have a wide range of religious freedom protected by the First Amendment in the classroom, such as forming religious based groups, praying in the classroom if not distracting, and incorporating their beliefs into school assignments. But, teachers have many more restrictions than students. In public school, teachers and school districts are required by the First Amendment to neither promote nor inhibit religion. Fairness is demonstrated when the curriculum includes academic study about religion when the content is tied to academic objectives to ensure a rounded education. Although court systems are not black and white, and many cases fall in a gray area, teachers should be educated on their overall limitations.
Because classrooms are not considered public forums, teachers must work within school limitations in their approach to sensitive topics, careful not to take sides on political controversies. Unfortunately this has not been the case especially during the recent election. The Washington Post published an article from October 14th, 2016 glorifying “Teachers of the Year” who are publicly going against their obligation to remain neutral involving political topics in the classroom. Instead of being punished for their violation of what teachers can and cannot do inside the classroom, their “moral imperative” to spread their opinions to their students was praised. Classrooms in my own school have shown evident bias towards political candidates, and teachers have encouraged students with the same views to act disrespectfully towards opinions of opposite views. If a small school in Wisconsin has such a large divide and lack of respectful discussion for students with a range of diverse beliefs, what other inequities are taking place nationwide, and what will we do about it?