Teachers are expected to remain politically neutral. These Teachers of the Year say they can’t.
Teachers are often expected to remain politically neutral in class, not letting their students know which candidate they support or where they stand on controversial issues.
Part of the thinking behind this position is that students could be insulted or intimidated into expressing contrary thoughts. Some parents fear that teachers could “indoctrinate” students by expressing their own views in class. As a result, many teachers are hesitant to — and often are expected not to — reveal political views.
In the unprecedented 2016 presidential election, some teachers are casting aside their neutrality to speak their mind. They say the stakes are too high in this election to stay quiet.
Answer Sheet newsletter
Education questions and answers, in your inbox weekly.
They include 10 former state and national Teachers of the Year, who have written an open letter explaining why they are taking sides — in public — in this race. Here’s the letter, and you can see who signed it at the end:
We are teachers. We teach children to become better writers, readers, scientists, mathematicians, and thinkers, so they can go on to live the lives they dream. We also help children become good human beings — to work hard, to do the right thing, and above all else, to be kind to one another.
We are teachers. We are supposed to remain politically neutral. For valid reasons, we don’t want to offend our students, colleagues or community members. But there are times when a moral imperative outweighs traditional social norms. There are times when silence is the voice of complicity. This year’s presidential election is one such time.
As teachers, we welcome all children into our classrooms, regardless of the color of their skin, how much money their parents make, or their religious beliefs. That notion of equality is at the heart of what it means to be an American.
We believe that Donald Trump is a danger to our society in general and to our students in particular. His words and actions have shown a consistent disdain for human dignity. His behavior goes against everything we teach the children in our care.
We teach children that girls are just as smart, capable, and worthy of respect as boys. Donald Trump has mocked women in myriad ways, including his post-debate tirades against Alicia Machado, his off-color innuendo about FOX host Megyn Kelly, and his predatory boasts about groping.