Political editorial to students from principal; Is this ethical?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by BRX, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Jan 14, 2018

    Our admin has to deal with direct actions taken by the government/president that affect our services/interactions with students and their families for a variety of reasons. This means that we have more "political editorials" and explanations to defuse parental/student knee-jerk reactions to "tweets" that are reported in the news than many schools. The SES and ethnic backgrounds of our students seem to intersect with current administrations at both the state and national level, and frequently not in a positive way, so yes, we get reactions and interactions of admin with other sending schools, since legislation often impacts our students. I think our parents and students want to know how the sound bites quoted by the press affect our somewhat more fragile students and their families., IMHO.
     
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  2. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    Jan 14, 2018

    I have to disagree with you that this is what it is about. I think what is described is clearly sharing my thoughts on a political figure. For the things you mentioned, my students see how I treat them and others and they can infer from this that I don't believe Nazism or sexual assault are good. I can do this by modeling my behavior and the way I lead my life and I don't have to lecture or discuss with any student who my vote was for president.
     
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  3. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    I am not American so this general dialogue is not really my place to comment, but in response to ready2learn's statement that their students can infer their beliefs on Nazism or sexual assault I would disagree. I can only speak to the students I have taught, but I have taught many very capable high school students Canadian and World History and have often been surprised at how little they know about the concepts, the inferences they make about the concepts and how that impacts behaviour. So I would not assume that my students understood what Nazism really was let alone that they could interpret what a President meant in their comments or, by association, what I thought about these topics. I would agree that students need to know that their teachers support human rights and human dignity. However, as someone who isn't living your reality, I really can't even begin to navigate what I would think/do in the situation being described.
     
  4. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    If it were in my standards, I would teach what Nazism was. I am saying that my students know that I treat them fairly and with respect no matter who they are. They respect this. I know they respect this from conversations I have with current and past students. Actions speak louder than words ever could. As far as my beliefs on a political figure's actions, it is none of their business. I hope I never cross the line from representing my moral beliefs to representing my beliefs on a political figure. Teaching is not a platform to share political leanings (or leanings towards or away from a political figure) with my students. One reason for this is that my students are required by law to be in my classroom. Spending this time forcing them to listen to my support or lack of support towards the president is not fair to them since they cannot leave.
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 14, 2018

    Ive been in pd and grad classes where the instructor has gone off on political tangents. One can feel held hostage in such cases. As a parent, I encouraged my son to express his discomfort to a male bashing HS teacher about comments made in class- that teacher was not back the next year.
    Hard to express such concerns when the message is from your supervisor-perhaps the parents/community will express their feelings about this? I know I would. Work/school should be a safe space for all. And maybe thats what should be communicated. Without choosing sides.
     
  6. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    ready2learn, I do think I understand what you are saying about respect but you did say your kids could infer your perspective on Nazism based on your behaviour. That may be your experience. It isn't my experience. In my experience, my students can't infer this as they (even after having taken a course which includes this history) may only have a cursory understanding of the topic so to understand what a President said or what I believe is not something that would happen.

    More broadly as part of this dialogue, I'm also not convinced that in these cases actions speak louder than words because I am not sure the actions and the words pair up. In my view, treating students respectfully and fairly is one thing. Standing up to 'isms' is a different thing.

    In my context, I know teachers who have treated students with respect while fundamentally believing that the student's choices are "wrong" or "immoral." For example, I have several students who are transitioning. Making sure that they are treated respectfully is on thing. Having them know that I support their right to define their gender is a different thing. It does actually matter to my students that they hear their teachers say that gender is not bianary. So my actions (treating everyone equitably) and my words (supporting our transitioning students) are two different things with two different impacts and two different outcomes.

    So while I agree in general that classrooms are not political platforms, I also am starting to view classrooms as a place that we teach norms. So I may, for example, have students who believe that we are born female or male and that is bianary. They are allowed to believe that and I will say, you are allowed to believe that but by law people in our country get to choose their pronoun and you are required to respect that pronoun. So I am starting to see part of our job is to teach them what is acceptable in society, which does require that we speak out against the 'isms' when we see them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  7. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    Jan 14, 2018

    This has been a good thread to read.

    It's... it's a tricky situation. I'm a big fan of the power of the local governments, and yeah, I think something like a public school of the community can in many circumstances act as a spokesperson for said community.

    But I can see where it can cross the line. During the election, we had a teacher approach administration and demand anyone who did not vote for Clinton be fired (she was in a big emotional rage). If a family in the school community does not fully align with the school values, do they have a place in the school?
     
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  8. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    I may have mentioned this here before, but a few years' back I had a cousin offered a teaching position in a community with a high representation of a religion he thought was morally wrong in most ways. He chose to not accept the job because he worried he truly wouldn't be able to respect the community.
     
  9. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    Respect and agreeing with someone is not the same thing. I can respect them as a person, and respect that they need to be treated with dignity, even if I do not agree with what they are doing or their beliefs. Students need to know that we don't always agree with everyone, but we always need to treat everyone with respect. For example, some students you teach are always going to believe that gender is binary. These beliefs are often rooted deep. As a teacher, I am not important enough to change these beliefs. However, I need to model respectful behavior and I can demand that everyone is treated with respect.
     
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  10. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Jan 14, 2018

    Of course respecting and agreeing are not the same thing. I'm sorry if my original post wasn't clear on that point.

    My point was that I am starting to come to the realization that respect isn't enough. As educators, I do believe we also have to (in an appropriate manner/ in the context of our community) confront "isms." (Because I don't have experience with the context described in this thread, I won't comment on if the approach was appropriate in this particular case but I will comment on the need to confront "isms.")

    I know some of my students will always believe that gender is binary. That isn't the issue. The issue is they live in a province where they are required to treat others equitably (and where I live that includes using appropriate pronouns). So part of my job is including in their education the societal norms. So where I live, we are expected to address the "isms" as they arise. As for my students, they don't have to agree with the pronouns but if they want to work in this province, they have to use them appropriately so part of my responsibility is teaching them to use pronouns appropriately.
     
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  11. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Jan 15, 2018

    In the private sector, use of a position of authority to advance or promote one's political beliefs would be just cause for termination, regardless of how one felt about the issue(s) at hand. I agree with someone above who implied that the admin should focus on the all too many real issues he/she already has on their plate. Too many people today confuse their opinions with fact. In education, there is no place for this.
     
  12. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Aficionado

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    Jan 15, 2018

    The principal has every right to address the students to let them know that school is a safe place for them regardless of their race, religion, whatever. I don't think the principal should go on a rant. On paper, no less. Someone will probably complain.
     
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  13. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    Jan 15, 2018

    Rereading the OP (and hoping I interpreted the behavior correctly), I am feeling a little more against the principal's actions. It is one thing to assure the community they will be protected from this and that ism. It's quite another to say, in power over as something as large and diverse as a school community, you're against a complete administration.

    Politics, religion, social views... as much as we would like to keep them separate, they blend and cross over.

    I guarantee that by speaking against a named administration, more than a few members of the community were alienated.
     
  14. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Jan 15, 2018

    I think you’re lumping churches and their tax free status with schools.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Yeah, I mean, we'd hate for community nazis to feel alienated instead.
     
  16. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Habitué

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    I again go back to my example. I am Mr. Trademark, principal of ABC High. I feel abortion is murder. I send out a letter to the school community to that effect. We stand AGAINST the murder of an innocent, unborn baby. WE SHALL NOT HAVE BLOOD ON OUR HANDS!!!!!!! My belief system tells me ABORTION IS OBJECTIVELY MURDER!!!

    Gee, we'd really hate for those murderers to feel alienated.....

    It couldn't be that it was a young lady who had to make a terribly difficult decision...

    Down another avenue, I also think the phrase "Nazi" is thrown around far too much, without a clear understanding of what it is referring to.
     
  17. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    What Nazis? I'm saying the children of the couple who likes this and that boring policy of the administration--the kind of policies that don't make the media-- and are therefore people "okay with" the administration, should be able to send their children to school without fear of retaliation or even made to feel bad about their rather boring political views.

    I'm fine with the school speaking out for its members and vowing to protect them. Supporting major values of the community is good. I'm not fine with lumping everyone of a general political stripe as Nazis.

    If you're okay with a school rejecting anyone who voted for Mayor Chap over Mayor Guy because it was easier to name names and paint with broad brushes than lift a finger to teach values and maybe even communicate with each other, by logic you have to be okay with being rejected from a public school next time people don't like your candidate.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
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  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    In the face of what is wrong, it is important to stand up. What is happening in our government is wrong.
     
  19. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Habitué

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    I think the thing is Trump has a potty-mouth and no filter. Beneath the surface, most of the other Republican ideas about topics such as immigration are not much different. I think this pales in comparison to Bush's illegal war with the wrong country, but I think we both know that a letter sent to parents about said illegal war, stating opinions about it would be met with great opposition and controversy, and would not be something a school leader should be issuing statements on. It's a shame that if people really want to get fired up, it just takes some bad words.....
     
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  20. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    Excluding members of a community based on needless, surface observations of their politics is also wrong.

    Can't you stand up for what is wrong without saying anyone with politics different from yours is evil?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
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