Friday, December 7, 2018

7 questions educators are asking about their rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism - Education Votes

7 questions educators are asking about their rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism - Education Votes

7 questions educators are asking about their rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism
Image result for educators  rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism


With the number of students and educators participating in actions growing each week, many educators have questions about their rights when they engage in activism and protest on social justice issues.
In a national call with NEA members earlier this year, attorneys with NEA’s Office of General Counsel addressed many of these issues, answering the questions we are hearing most often about legal and free speech protections for educators who participate in actions in support of gun safety, DACA, Black Lives Matter@School, and more.
Below are a number of the key questions they addressed:

1. Do educators have First Amendment rights to speak up at school? What about outside of school?

The First Amendment enshrines the right to speak out, to assemble, and to speak without being punished.  But this right is not absolute, and public employees, like public educators, have limited First Amendment rights.
Before speaking out or participating in an action, it is always good to ask yourself two questions: 1) Which hat will you be wearing when you speak – an educator’s or private citizen’s?  And 2) What are you speaking about? Is it a topic of general public concern, or a personal grievance?
Generally, a public educator has the greatest free speech rights when speaking as a private citizen (outside of school and not to students or parents) about issues of public concern. You may have no First Amendment protections at all when speaking as an employee (in school or to students or parents) or about workplace or personal issues outside of school.
Before speaking out or participating in an action, it is always good to ask yourself two questions: 1) Which hat will you be wearing when you speak – an educator’s or private citizen’s?  And 2) What are you speaking about? Is it a topic of general public concern, or a personal grievance?
So, for example, an educator who speaks out about a hot-button political matter such as gun control outside of the school will be protected by the First Amendment. But speaking in class about the same issue would not be protected. Educator speech about personal issues or specific workplace complaints would also not be protected.

2. What other laws might protect educators?  

It’s always a good idea to check with your local or state NEA affiliate about which other laws may apply. Many, but not all, states have teacher tenure laws. Under these laws, your employer has to show cause to discipline or terminate a tenured teacher. Newer teachers and other educators often don’t have these rights, so they may want to act a little more cautiously.
Collective bargaining laws may also protect you when speaking out about issues that relate to the terms and conditions of your employment. So if you work in a state that permits public education collective bargaining, you may have stronger protections to speak out about specific issues in your school or district.
Anti-discrimination laws may also provide additional protection against discipline or termination that is imposed because of your gender, race, ethnicity, religion or other protected characteristic.
All of these protections are typically strongest when educators are speaking on non- Continue reading: 7 questions educators are asking about their rights to speak out, protest, and engage in activism - Education Votes

No comments:

Post a Comment