Political editorial to students from principal; Is this ethical?

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

  1. BRX

    BRX Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2016
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jan 13, 2018

    After Trump's reported comments on Haiti, a lengthy letter went out to students and staff from the school principal stating that the Trump administration was continuously attacking immigrants of color, and that the school does not support the agenda of this administration. It was an emotionally driven anti-Trump piece that denounced everything that he represents. I was kind of taken by surprise, as this administrator was essentially venting to students and presenting his opinion as fact. While I agree with his position (I am no fan of Trump -not that it matters), I do question if it is ethical to send these types of messages to children and staff, without challenging them to come to their own conclusions about what is going on in the world. I'd love to hear some thoughts on this.
     
    a2z likes this.
  2.  
  3. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,485
    Likes Received:
    1,020

    Jan 13, 2018

    The lack of common sense astonishes me. Does this principal really not have enough to deal with that he has to create more problems for himself by becoming unnecessarily involved in political discourse? If that's what he's interested in, he should quit his job and become a politician. It really is mind-numbingly stupid to me that someone would do something like that.
     
  4. BRX

    BRX Rookie

    Joined:
    May 4, 2016
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    4

    Jan 13, 2018

    I feel the same way. This isn't the first time this type of thing has happened. The school has taken many political stances and expressed them openly to students and staff. It is public charter school, so I am not sure if this type of thing is permitted. It just doesn't sit right with me at all.
     
    Backroads, a2z and futuremathsprof like this.
  5. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,485
    Likes Received:
    1,020

    Jan 13, 2018

    And another thing...it's easy to come out against Trump. But imagine the backlash if a principal had come out similarly against Obama, or even against George Bush? It's a bit of a double-standard.
     
  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,414
    Likes Received:
    1,384

    Jan 13, 2018

    The superintendent in my district and our school board have put out statements regarding hate, social justice, and politics over the past year. At first, I was a bit surprised by it, but it really doesn't seem out of character for my school district. The community, for the most part, is supportive of the stance the district takes, so it has not been an issue. I think it probably depends on your community and the beliefs of the school board. In some communities, this would definitely not go over well, but, for some small communities, it probably is in line with the mission and values of the school district.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jan 13, 2018

    I think that more people should be using their voices to object to what's happening in our government right now. People with power, like school and community leaders, have loud voices, and they need to be louder. I actually believe that it's more unethical to stay quiet in the face of racism and oppression.
     
    anon55, christie and dgpiaffeteach like this.
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    3,010
    Likes Received:
    465

    Jan 13, 2018

    To specifically name a current political leader such as Trump, Obama, Bush etc. and to denounce this person as a principal is clearly wrong. This is coming from someone who is not a Trump supporter but has been taught right from wrong in school law classes and PDs.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    3,010
    Likes Received:
    465

    Jan 13, 2018

    Stand against racism, prejudice, and oppression--yes. Though to specifically denounce a president crosses a line as a principal--even though I can understand the temptation.
     
    a2z likes this.
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jan 13, 2018

    I disagree very strongly. In the "shithole" situation (I won't censor my words here), the president was objectively wrong. It is okay to say that he was wrong. None of this is okay, and people need to stop acting like it is.
     
    anon55 and stephenpe like this.
  11. a2z

    a2z Maven

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,684
    Likes Received:
    1,585

    Jan 13, 2018

    Anything you didn't hear directly (in person or unedited video) and in context is hearsay. So, no administrator should be addressing this with the students. I'm not saying that what is being reported is not what he said, but there are too many things reported in the media with bias or just false.
     
  12. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    3,010
    Likes Received:
    465

    Jan 13, 2018

    In this specific situation, I agree with you. A principal or leader can call something a president does as wrong. This is different than the original poster that said " that the school does not support the agenda of this administration". Making a general denouncement of Trump is political and fine as individuals, but not as a principal who is the leader of the school. Stating a fact, Trump said this and that is against the values we have as a school is much different from a legal perspective.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jan 13, 2018

    Which part of that is the legal issue? The school must, as in has a legal obligation to, adhere to the government's abject racist and oppressive agenda? Or the school can't, as in is legally prohibited from, saying that it won't adhere to such an agenda? Or the school simply stating that it does not support the agenda? What is the specific law that is being referenced here?
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    3,010
    Likes Received:
    465

    Jan 13, 2018

    From my knowledge of school law (which isn't perfect), a school can't advocate or denounce a political candidate or politician. It can comment on specific true events. For example, a principal could say that as a school we stand against prejudice and vulgar language and denounce any action Trump or anyone else does who does that. A principal isn't to paint such a wide brush to say that all of Trump's agenda or all of Obama's agenda etc. is wrong. The first part is criticizing a specific behavior and the second is criticizing an entire person.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jan 13, 2018

    Trump isn't a political candidate.

    I guess I need to see the letter in question to see exactly what was said. I also need to know which law is being referenced.
     
  16. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    3,010
    Likes Received:
    465

    Jan 13, 2018

    Point taken. My post should say politician or political candidate. I will make that correction.
     
  17. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,485
    Likes Received:
    1,020

    Jan 13, 2018

    Say it was an issue other than immigration, such as abortion. Some might say that abortion is morally wrong, and the killing of innocent babies. Some might say that prohibiting abortion is oppressing women's right to choose. Either way, public school leadership should not be publishing opinion pieces on that matter, as it is sure to create some unnecessary enemies. Students should be encouraged to form their own opinions on these matters after much critical thought, and to voice these opinions as they see fit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  18. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Messages:
    432
    Likes Received:
    107

    Jan 13, 2018

    I have been alive during many administrations that I have strongly disagreed with. This is the FIRST time that I find myself constantly reminding my students that the behavior of this person who is supposed to be the leader of our country is not the behavior of leaders. If my students were speaking or acting in a manner like this we would have a problem and I tell them so. These behaviors are not behaviors that will be tolerated in my classroom at all. This is not about personal opinion, this is about tolerance, leadership, and human dignity (among many things) and our students are looking for how to respond. We must help them with that. Hmmmm, I sound preachy - sorry. But I do feel that when I disagree with a politician on a topic or issue I have, in the past, been able to separate the person from the issue. This time I feel that it is not just the issues, it is the language being used. I don't just mean cursing. The loaded language being used by this administration is not something I am aware of any administration doing to this degree in my adult life. How we as districts, schools, teachers, should respond is a really good question. It's the first time I am being very honest with my high school students about my views. I tell them they are allowed to disagree with each other's positions on issues, but they must hear each other's views, and they must remain respectful of each other's disagreements. Does our president do any of these things? No. But I hold my students to a higher standard. 45's parents would have already been called in for a meeting. And the question of what do we as a country do when we can't call his parents is a real question that we need to start really dialoguing about in this country - what do we do??? And schools speaking up might be one answer.
     
    MissCeliaB and readingrules12 like this.
  19. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2013
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    62

    Jan 13, 2018

    I think it is an easy answer that this is not ethical. I understand that some posters are saying that it is part of a teacher's job to model moral behavior for students. However, I can easily do this without sharing my political beliefs with students. Students always leave my classroom without knowing my political beliefs because it is none of their business. I am fortunate because I work in a place where many feel the same way. I have heard of some teachers who see a captive audience of students and use the time to try to indoctrinate those students into sharing their views on politics. These teachers, and the principal in your story, cross a line of morality. Good job BRX at being able to look past your personal opinions, and question your role or the school's role in this.
     
    czacza likes this.
  20. Secondary Teach

    Secondary Teach Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    54

    Jan 13, 2018

    On a side note, it's mentioned in the new book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" by Michael Wolff, that Trump didn't actually want to win the election and that he was very upset when he found out that he did win that night. I don't know how much truthfulness there is in this book, but some say that this could explain some of his antics- in that he may be acting in this manner because he is trying to get impeached. It's mentioned in the book that he ran because it would "make him the most famous man in the world" and because if he lost it would "afford his family more opportunities in the future".
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/michael-wolff-fire-and-fury-book-donald-trump.html
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/t...fer-untold-opportunities-book/article/2644849
    :)
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jan 14, 2018

    But this is not about political leanings like whether you support big government or would prefer tax cuts. This is blatant and overt sexism and racism. Your students should know your feelings on the nazis and whether it’s okay to use your fame to sexually assault women.
     
  22. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2014
    Messages:
    9,434
    Likes Received:
    2,339

    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.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  23. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2013
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    62

    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.
     
    futuremathsprof, TrademarkTer and a2z like this.
  24. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2017
    Messages:
    435
    Likes Received:
    281

    Jan 14, 2018

    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.
     
  25. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2013
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    62

    Jan 14, 2018

    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.
     
  26. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,948
    Likes Received:
    2,096

    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.
     
  27. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2017
    Messages:
    435
    Likes Received:
    281

    Jan 14, 2018

    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
  28. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    1,567

    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?
     
    vickilyn likes this.
  29. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    1,567

    Jan 14, 2018

    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.
     
  30. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2013
    Messages:
    321
    Likes Received:
    62

    Jan 14, 2018

    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.
     
    vickilyn likes this.
  31. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2017
    Messages:
    435
    Likes Received:
    281

    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.
     
    MrsC, Backroads and Caesar753 like this.
  32. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    143

    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.
     
  33. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Messages:
    4,297
    Likes Received:
    942

    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.
     
    Sam Aye M and teacherintexas like this.
  34. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    1,567

    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.
     
  35. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    2,855
    Likes Received:
    623

    Jan 15, 2018

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

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jan 15, 2018

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

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,485
    Likes Received:
    1,020

    Jan 15, 2018

    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.
     
  38. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    1,567

    Jan 15, 2018

    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
    ready2learn likes this.
  39. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jan 15, 2018

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

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,485
    Likes Received:
    1,020

    Jan 15, 2018

    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.....
     
    Backroads likes this.
  41. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    1,567

    Jan 15, 2018

    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
    TrademarkTer and czacza like this.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 433 (members: 0, guests: 414, robots: 19)
test