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During increasingly political times, can teachers’ opinions be a danger in the classroom?

Ever wondered what’s allowed in classrooms for teachers to say or share?

Corbyn Vaow, Reporter

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In all schools, teachers bring in views on controversial topics ranging from their opinions on the President, to gun control regulations, even to tax cuts. Although bringing in current events can be helpful, where is the line drawn?

Personal opinions can be used to influence students in ways that make them uncomfortable, and this can sometimes lead to severed student-teacher relationships.

It can be important for teachers to have a relationships with students because it helps the student feel comfortable and allows them to learn in different ways with that teacher.

The actual SVVSD school district policy states that teachers must be objective, but they are allowed to share personal views. Teachers should not always be objective because it is necessary to clarify instruction; other times their personal opinions can be harmful because young people are easily coaxed.

Principal Ayers weighed in on the subject.

“Teachers are not here to persuade kids, [they] should let students make choices on facts they know. It is not [a teacher’s] job to put kids on one side: put them in the middle and let them choose for themselves” says Mrs. Ayers.

The policy continues, saying that teachers are allowed to use and discuss controversial issues as long as they “pertain to course objectives that relate to board-adopted academic standards.”

Students wonder: at what point does bringing in controversy cause more damage than good?

In Public School Law Teacher and Students Rights, a textbook about school law for teachers, it  states, “An action constitutes expression for first amendment purposes only if it attempts ‘to convey a particularized message’ that will likely be understood by those receiving the message”

So does this connect to teachers as well when using their own opinion on a subject?

According to Alan Singer, writer at Huffpost, “Generally, the First Amendment protects your speech if you are speaking as a private citizen on a matter of public concern. However, if you are speaking in an official capacity (within the duties of your job), your speech will not have the same protection”.  

A teacher in Staten Island received a disciplinary letter, because of a vocabulary question on a homework assignment using the word “haughty” to describe president Trump’s speaking manner.

AP Seminar and English teacher Mrs.Rue believes that it is okay to share personal views within limits.

She says, “I try and keep leaving personal views out of the classroom, but i do believe it is beneficial to share some as long as there is evidence to support it.”

As for whether or not sharing person opinions can be beneficial, Rue says that it “depends on the student and the teacher. If they have not built that relationship opinions can come off as hurtful and harsh.”

AP U.S. History and AP European History teacher Mr. Garcia said “Teachers should be able to bring in their personal opinions into the classroom within limits. They should stay appropriate and should not oppose their views.”

Another English teacher Mrs. Engelen states “trying to teach a subject without personal views would make us cold and robotic.”

About the Writer
Corbyn Vaow, Reporter
Cobyn is a Sophomore here at MHS. He enjoys welding and AP government. Corbyn is our film review editor — contact him if interested!
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