Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Not The Teacher's Classroom, It's The Taxpayer's Classroom

Five and a half years ago I wrote about Bay Area teachers who didn't want to put up posters in their classrooms, posters they felt advocated for a gay lifestyle.
This is truly a conundrum. Gay tolerance posters? While there are few more gay-tolerant than I, this seems a bit excessive to me--even in the SF Bay area! Why should we single out gays for tolerance? Are there no other groups that might merit tolerance but gay students--and in the SF Bay Area, no less??!! This Board policy strikes me as promoting a specific agenda that is so narrowly tailored that it's designed to cause problems. No one can argue with "tolerance" and "anti-bullying", but the devil is certainly in the details. "Tolerance" means to "tolerate", not welcome or condone or celebrate. I tolerate liberals :-)

Why the Board didn't commission a poster with the symbols of several different (harrassed) groups, with a message of tolerance? Why couldn't there be a pink triangle, a Star of David, a picture of a punker or goth, etc on a poster of tolerance? Focusing on a controversial 1.5%-6% (reasonable studies, not Kinsey's 10%) of the population just seems to me to be a Board that's either listening to a loud minority or is trying to show its liberal bona fides--and neither is fitting for an elected body in this country.
While I thought the Board's required posters were wrong in spirit, I recognized the authority of the Board to require that they be posted. Likewise, while I agree with this teacher's views, I also agree that the school/district can compel him to remove his posters:
Johnson has long displayed large banners in his classroom in Rancho Penasquitos that read: "In God We Trust,'' "One Nation Under God,'' and "All Men Are Created Equal, They Are Endowed By Their Creator.''

In its decision, the appeals court cited previous U.S. Supreme Court cases when it ruled that the school district has the right to limit speech of public employees in the workplace and acted lawfully when it told Johnson to remove the banners.

"Just as the Constitution would not protect Johnson were he to decide that he no longer wished to teach math at all, preferring to discuss Shakespeare rather than Newton, it does not permit him to speak as freely at work in his role as teacher about his views on God, our nation's history, or God's role in our nation's history as he might on a sidewalk, in a park, at his dinner table, or in countless other locations," wrote Judge Richard Tallman.
They shouldn't require that he take them down, but they can require it.

Snark: I have no doubt they would not require teachers to take down Che Guevara posters.


Rhymes With Right said...

Gee, Darren, I guess i don't need to write a post on this topic -- you've left me with nothing to add on this one.

Steve USMA '85 said...

They might not require teachers to take down Che Guevara posters but I as a taxpayer would be raising issue with it! I am so glad my kids are through school.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it was in CA, but I remember reading that some public schools had a room for Muslim prayers, which was also used for fasting students during lunch periods in Ramadan. How much would you bet that Christians and Jews had similar accommodations? Perhaps on Fridays in Lent, when many Christians fast? I don't think so!

Within the past year or two, there was a column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about a sex-separated prayer room a (public) Normandale CC. All materials displayed were Islamic and a Christian woman was asked to leave. Some Minneapolis public schools have foot-washing and prayer rooms for Muslim students (unless they have since been removed) - Christians are not allowed to have student-run/led prayer meetings before or after school.

Darren said...

Anonymous, I don't believe your last statement is true--student-led prayers and meetings have always been upheld in courts. As for the rest of your comment, it's sad but true.