Teachers should put away their political flags at school
In August 2022, the Kettle Moraine School Board in Wisconsin voted to prevent teachers and administrators from having political flags or religious messages in their classrooms. It’s time for other school districts across the country to do the same.
Government Accountability Office federal government auditors are instructed not to display partisan or political messages in their office space or when conducting audits in order to maintain their appearance of impartiality and professionalism – and GAO auditors work with adults. Why then would it be acceptable for public school teachers and administrators, who wield extraordinary influence over our children, to openly display political messages in what should be an apolitical learning environment?
In the fall of 2021, I posed this question to our college principal in Fairfax County, Virginia. Earlier today, my son had casually mentioned that his engineering teacher was displaying pride and Black Lives Matter flags in his class. After saying that, of course, all lives matter and everyone should be proud, I explained to my son that this was just an example of teachers trying to politically indoctrinate students.
The principal informed me that the school board has adopted a policy that flags of “marginalized groups” are welcome in district classrooms. When I asked her how Black Lives Matter, a social movement, was a “marginalized group” given its $6 million mansion in California and its indirect connection to numerous violent protests across the country, she had no Answer. But the whole issue begs the question: who decides what is acceptable to display and what is not? The school boards themselves want to be apolitical, but they are strongly partisan.
Push politics out of school
In fact, school boards and the schools themselves are increasingly bastions of leftist politics. For 2022, teachers’ unions (the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers) have given $1.3 million to Democrats and $2,500 to Republicans. In Virginia, the NEA and AFT donated $600,000 to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe in the 2021 gubernatorial race. AFT Chairman Randi Weingarten even personally campaigned for him.
At Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), the democratic fervor is palpable at the school board and at the school level. The 12-member FCPS board of directors were endorsed by the Democratic Party in 2019. Additionally, a quick walk through any of the county schools will likely reveal several Democratic nominees in bejeweled frames on teachers’ desks. . In my family’s eight years with Fairfax County Public Schools, I have yet to see a Republican politician framed on the desk of a teacher or administrator. My friends who are Republican teachers or administrators keep their political views a closely guarded secret.
Good for them. While Republican teachers in Fairfax County are more likely to be booked for job security reasons, all teachers should keep their political bias against students in the interests of professionalism. This is not a restriction of speech, but a professional necessity to drive politics out of schools and recommit wholeheartedly to academic excellence. Long ago, public education was meant to educate American children in math, science, reading, and factual history. Given the fall in standardized test scores across the country, public education has clearly lost its way.
Violation of the First Amendment
Public schools have changed from institutions of learning to identity-affirming daycares. For example, the Fairfax County School Board recently adopted a policy to suspend students who “trick” or “name” their peers — which is forced speech, a clear violation of the First Amendment. The policy institutionalizes the idea that while school personnel are prohibited from speaking to a student’s parents about any gender identity issues, the student’s classmates must be fully aware of the student’s identity. each and participate in the affirmation process with preferred pronouns. Gender identity currently receives the most attention, but the FCPS board is also obsessed with whether students belong to any “marginalized” demographic groups.
At the July 14, 2022 meeting, for example, the FCPS Board of Directors passed a motion directing the Superintendent to develop a plan for implementing a bias incident system by December 2022. I emailed Abrar Omeish, who presented this motion, asking him what the reason was for it, what it would entail, and how it would work. She did not answer. Another board member, Laura Jane Cohen, explained that this new system would look at incidents of bullying or harassment “to see if the information can be further disaggregated to include the number of incidents involving hate or prejudices”.
At the university level, in many identity-based incident reporting systems, students self-report the incident and the alleged bias reported by the “offender” may be either intentional or unintentional. In other words, this system is a completely subjective data collection system riddled with the biases of school board members – and is ripe to be weaponized against dissenting students. It bears all the hallmarks of an Orwellian thought-policing experiment.
Ironically, the real bias in schools is political and stems from school boards, teachers’ unions, administrators, and teachers themselves. In order to alleviate the real problem of bias (not just “perceived” bias), we need to persuade school boards across the country to follow Kettle Moraine’s example.
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a mother, author and member of the Independent Women’s Network.