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Forced Neutrality

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Most people agree that teachers should not be allowed to turn their classrooms into forums for their personal and political beliefs. But where is the line? Legislators in Arizona are working on a proposed law that would prohibit instructors in public schools and colleges from expressing opinions on politically contentious issues. "In any class, any issue could be discussed as long as the instructor is neutral on the issue and not telling you what your conclusion should be," said the bill's author. But some worry the law would discourage classroom discussions on controversial subjects, or require educators to bend over backwards to stay on politically neutral ground—for example, by presenting the argument that global warming is not real.

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While I agree that young, impressionable minds should not be muddied with the rantings of a teacher bent on bulllying his/her students into submission, I am stunned that this issue has not come to the attention of the public here in Arizona. I do think the Legislature has well-meaning intentions, but what we will end up with is a classroom so sterile that we cannot teach students to think for themselves. We will not be ALLOWED to discuss controversial issues at all. This will be the only way the schools can control the potential "problem." What kind of young adults will we then produce?

And why would colleges be part of this? These students are adults and perfectly capable of speaking their minds! Colleges and universities should be a place where controversial discussions do occur. If I thought all that would happen would be that teachers would have to remain neutral, I wouldn't be too concerned, but I live in Arizona and I know how messed up this becomes when management takes a knee jerk reaction to new rules and make it an "all or nothing" situation. I hope this is struck down by the Legislators but I do not hold out much hope.

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