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Should Teachers Be Allowed to Wear Political Buttons on the Job?


The New York City teachers' union thinks so.

Read more about a lawsuit filed against the New York City school district over a policy forbidding teachers from wearing campaign buttons at school, at edweek.org's Teacher Beat blog.


I think that the school is justified in requesting teachers to remove their buttons. I understand that these teachers feel this is a violation of their rights; however, I feel this is one of those subjects that makes sense to remove from a classroom. There are many other instances where we have to remove our own opinions from topics that present themselves in class, and this is no different. I can imagine the concern and problems this would cause among not only parents but also students when a teacher disagrees with the families views. Parents would be worried that the teacher is influencing and corrupting their children in a way that differs from the beliefs they had taught them. I mean, no one is saying the teacher is openly discussing his or her views, but, when a student admires a teacher and learns that he or she favors a certain political party, it might lead them to re-evaluate what they have been previously taught. This concern presents itself in other arguments as well when teachers are asked to refrain from incorporating their own religious beliefs, or any moral beliefs into their classrooms, and teachers accept this willingly and withhold from doing so. I feel that this issue is no different, and these teachers need to realize and understand that.

I have to disagree with Mindy. I still remember my Government teacher, from my senior year of high school, who was an AVID republican. I mean this man was completely against democrats of any kind, and it did make for an interesting atmosphere. Students in the class were constantly debating with each other over issues and, on a personal level, it did help me learn how to get my personal beliefs across to a person who might not feel the same way without slaughtering each other and even helped strengthen my own personal beliefs, despite the fact that they were completely the opposite of his. By high school, I do think that most students have a greater sense of what they believe in and are not so susceptible to the beliefs of someone in an authoritative position. And I have to say, many individuals inherit the beliefs their parents, simply because they are taught at a young age, you must respect your parents, and this means believing what they believe. So what is so wrong with maybe adopting or at least learning about the beliefs of a teacher that you greatly respect? Although I do think it is important to form one's own belief, I don't think this can happen without learning about other people's beliefs and then forming your own judgements. And in response to Mindy's comment about re-evaluating beliefs they were taught, what is wrong with re-evaluation? I mean isn't that how we learn, through constant evaluation? Now, by now means do I think teachers should walk into the classrooms and tell their students who to vote for, but I do think it is okay to let your students know, I am going to support so and so on election day. As long as they are teaching their subjects effectively and openly, I don't see the problem with wearing a political button. Plus, the National Education Association itself voted to endorse Obama on July 4th, so why shouldn't a teacher be allowed to endorse Obama, or McCain? I also think it encourages students to get involved in the voting process and adopt political views. Since young voting is such a big issue right now, being exposed to teachers who are involved in politics is a way to encourage students to get involved when they are of voting age.

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