March 29, 2006


Judge Rules Teachers Have No Free Speech Rights in Class (Matthew Rothschild, March 24, 2006, The Progressive)

Here's an update on Deb Mayer, the teacher who said her contract was not renewed because she answered a student's question about whether she would participate in a demonstration for peace. [...]

On March 10, Judge Sarah Evans Barker dismissed Mayer’s case, granting summary judgment to the defendants.

The judge said the school district was within its rights to terminate Mayer because of various complaints it received from parents about her teaching performance.

But beyond that, Judge Barker ruled that “teachers, including Ms. Mayer, do not have a right under the First Amendment to express their opinions with their students during the instructional period.”

The judge ruled that “school officials are free to adopt regulations prohibiting classroom discussion of the war,” and that “the fact that Ms. Mayer’s January 10, 2003, comments were made prior to any prohibitions by school officials does not establish that she had a First Amendment right to make those comments in the first place.” The judge also implied that Mayer, by making her comments, was attempting to “arrogate control of the curricula.”

And the judge gave enormous leeway to school districts to limit teachers’ speech in the classroom.

“Whatever the school board adopts as policy regarding what teachers are permitted to express in terms of their opinions on current events during the instructional period, that policy controls, and there is no First Amendment right permitting teachers to do otherwise,” Judge Barker wrote.

Shut up and teach.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2006 10:05 AM

Whatever the school board adopts as policy regarding what teachers are permitted to express in terms of their opinions on current events during the instructional period, that policy controls . . .

In most public schools, "whatever the school board adopts" will be "whatever the superintendent recommends." The superintendent will usually be a former teacher who has made a career out of empire-building within the public school beauraucracy, and has an advanced degree or two from schools of education. In other words, he is even more likely to be a shrieking far-left moonbat than the average public school teacher.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 29, 2006 10:19 AM

Additionally the school board is probably made up of retired teachers or administrators as well. The circle is complete.

During a saner period, those with familial ties to the school system were barred from the school board. Here a current school board member's wife teaches at the high school.

Nuf' said.

Posted by: erp at March 29, 2006 10:57 AM

This was the real issue at the heart of the Scopes trial. The teacher lost then, too.

Posted by: Timothy at March 29, 2006 11:24 AM

Conceded, that teachers ought not to use a classroom as a soapbox for their own political views. But the cynic in me suspects that Orrin would have much more of a problem if the teacher were advocating, say, the immorality of abortion.


Posted by: Noel at March 29, 2006 12:09 PM

There is no draft now, and, behold, all things are made new.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 29, 2006 1:35 PM

This court decision was right on the money. Those who think that it only applies to the leftists and their penchant for propagandizing are either insincere in their concern or ill-informed.

Virtually any reference to anything that has to do with Christianity, God, or some religious observance has been systematically eliminated from the pubic school system already. Odds are it was not at the insistence of the majority of parents or students, either.

It is funny that when a court decision goes against the left it is always a "freedom of speech" issue whereas when it goes against the right it is always portrayed as a victory for freedom 'from' religion.

Disclaimer: I am an atheist. I just don't hate religious people.

Posted by: michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2006 3:29 PM

public schools that is!!!

Posted by: Michael at March 29, 2006 3:31 PM

Similar to what Michael said. There was a case about two years ago mentioned on the web of a teacher in Arkansas who was fired, when a student (who was a homosexual) asked the teacher where in the bible it said homosexuality was a sin. The teacher showed him and he lost his job.

These remarks had been preceded by the student whistling and making suggestive remarks to other boys in the hallway. The teacher told him to stop. And in the ensuing argument the teacher said such behavior was sinful.

Personally I don't think either teacher should have lost their job in either case. There are those special young people who have the talent to goad teachers into saying things that wouldn't be appropriate ordinarily, but cases like this merely encourage them. So you end up with alot of obnoxious teenagers.

Posted by: h-man at March 29, 2006 3:44 PM

It is a puzzle to me that people will voluntarily entrust their children to people they do not know and if they did know them would disagree with their values. The public school system is the root of most of this countries moral decay.

Posted by: TGN at March 29, 2006 3:49 PM

This sort of decision is necessary to continue the ban on religious discussions in school, the heart of which is that a teacher's comment is state action.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 29, 2006 3:55 PM