I personally try to refrain from discussions of politics in school. Most 7th graders are not interested in that kind of thing anyway, so it doesn’t come up a lot. Sometimes they ask me who I’m voting for, and I tell them they can probably figure it out from what they know of me, they guess right and the convo is over. However, one of my co-workers wore an Obama shirt to school recently, and that got me wondering. Do you think it’s OK for teachers to wear t-shirts or display other political propaganda? How much talk about politics is appropriate or OK in the classroom in your opinion?
I’ve thought about this as well. I’m a teacher of sixth graders in Canada. Often I want to voice by leftist tendencies but I refrain from it. I think kids at that age largely aren’t concerned with such matters, and only would be if it were brought up as a formal class topic. I don’t like to wear such clothing that promotes debateable ideas.
If talk in the classroom is well balanced, then I think talking about politics in school is great. I think the teacher's role should be as a moderator though. I would never try to voice my opinion, rather I would try to guide a students questioning process so they lead themselves to their own answers. I think it is VERY important to speak about politics in schools due to poor voter turnouts, and the widespread disease of uninformed voters. Perhaps in the older grades though.
My seventh grader is interested in politics- she reads the news and watched the whole debate, but she may not be typical. She likes Obama.
I would not recommend wearing an Obama or McCain t-shirt to school (niether teachers or students, but especially teachers) mainly because of the 'lefty liberal media/school" charges you hear so much about these days.
What Quasimodal said.
Teachers aren’t there to shill for their political favorites. They’re there to teach.
Grabbing a proverbial ‘educable moment’ to examine issues, voting as an obligation of citizenship, etc. is one thing. Behaving as an ambulatory yard sign is unprofessional as hell. It’s also an abuse of power; a subtle one, but real, I think. A serious question: since this teacher thinks he/she is entitled to campaign for Obama in school, does he/she also grant students the equal right to get up on their high horses in support of John McCain?
If the students are old enough to vote, it’s blatant manipulation by people who should know better.
If they aren’t old enough to vote, it’s simple mindless showboating. “Look what I can get away with” is never a very impressive accomplishment.
I teach 7th Grade and I don’t think it is a great idea to wear a shirt pushing one candidate.
Since we teach kids who support both candidates(or whose parents do), it just seems like I’d be pushing away the kids that support the opponent. I try to encourage kids to make up their own minds and decide what they believe.
My co-worker, however, wears shirts about Sudan and poverty in Africa. This, I support, since I feel it raises awareness about something just about anyone can get behind.
I have worn shirts with Chinese flags, since I lived in China for a few years(something well known with my kids). Again, if we were at war with China or something, I wouldn’t do it.
I remember a teacher at my previous school who carried a mug that said, “Bush/Orwell '04” or “Bush/Big Brother '04”. I found it distasteful, even though I am not a Bush supporter.
I’d avoid it and I think it’s not worth it.
What I do to raise awareness is ask extra credit questions like, who is running for president for each party, including VP candidates? Who is our mayor, congressman, etc.? Once they realize they can get free points on the test by being up on things like how many justices are on the SCOTUS, in Congress, and about current politicians and events, they start giving a crap. Beyond that, I try to stay out of it. They are in 7th grade, so mostly they believe what their parents believe, so there’s not much debate to be had really.
I’ve certainly seen college professors wearing political clothes/buttons.
While I didn’t always agree with my professors, I wasn’t manipulated.
I was old enough to vote.
I think it is right up there with a “Jesus Saves” shirt. If a teacher can not understand how wearing something like that can be intimidating to a child and in fact, is wholly inappropriate for their JOB, then I don’t think they need to be teaching. Now, wearing a “VOTE” shirt is great, but no telling kids who they should vote for.
It shocks me how little adults can remember how intimidating it is for a child to disagree with an adult.
Then again, what the hell do I know? I’m withholding screaming at my childs school for having a teachers aide that doesn’t speak english worth a damn.
I guess it would be worse to be wearing a “el Jesucristo dice el voto para el mccain.” shirt.
As a parent, I would be pissed in the extreme if one of my kids told me that their teacher wore a shirt supporting a candidate, especially in a public school. Teaching civic responsibility in terms of encouraging kids to value and participate in the political process is the role of the schools and the teachers. Influencing who they vote for is out of bounds.
During the last election, one of my US senators came to our local HS and spoke to the civics class. Based on what I read in the local paper about the event, the Senator pretty much used the opportunity to pitch his party’s platform to a bunch of HS seniors who just might be old enough to vote. I thought it was an abuse of power, and has made me serious question the judgement of the senator and our school district.
Why is a teacher wearing a t-shirt to class in the first place? Never mind that it’s political, I just think it’s inappropriate. Way too casual. I can understand wearing a school shirt on Pep Rally Day, but even on casual day they should be in nothing less formal than a collared golf shirt.
On the flip side, I look at it as no more controversial than a teacher wearing a t-shirt or jersey of their favorite sports team before the Big Game, again, provided that it’s appropriate to be dressed so casually for class.
I teach Government, and I won’t even put an Obama sticker on my truck. A classroom ought to be balanced whenever possible. We talk politics every day, of course, but I’ve never let a students political leanings affect their grade on an assignment. But I will challenge those beliefs. Whatever they are. Mindless ideology is dangerous no matter which side it’s on.
Oh, Casey? I wear Hawaiian shirts every day.
6 weeks and a day without wearing the same shirt twice!
Yeah, but I’m guessing they’re collared, so it counts.
I think there is a world of difference between students in high school and students in college.
I’d be more concerned in high school. I did vote in high school, but it was only for a school bond election. I voted no even though I was required to go to an assembly in favor of the bond issue.
In college, I had a few very partisan professors. As an adult, I made my decision regardless of my professors’ opinions.
I’m saving The Shirt for last. Attendees of several Dopefests know the one I mean: the one that shows up on radar. The one that is visible on satellite photos. The one a blind man can see.
The only political ideology I publicly support in my classroom is Big Blue. Supporters of other, lesser teams are shunned to the depths of Outermost Darkness.
I think it’s probably bad form- it’s a little tacky to wear a political tee shirt to any job.
But I don’t agree with the idea that all teachers have to go to extremes to present themselves as apolitical. No kid is going to be completely brainwashed by one teacher that has an opinion. I mean when does it stop- can I wear political tee shirts outside of the classroom, but when students might see me? Can I go to a rally? What if I end up on TV? Teachers are human and one of the things students learn in school is how to deal with humans. As long as you aren’t handing out grades or giving the impression that you will give give different grades to people based on political opinion, I think you are good.
And getting students to think critically, form arguments and express opinions on political subjects is an important part of any education. By all means politics should be discussed in the classroom. But it should be a very student-centered discussion.
I think it’s inappropriate, completely. Exception: if a community member or fellow teacher is running for office. Even that’s sketchy, but it’s understandable. (A former teacher at my school ran for a local office, and I seem to remember teachers having buttons on.)
I agree that you don’t have to twist ridiculously to appear nonpartisan. I don’t think you have to avoid putting stickers on your car, though it does make your job more difficult.
I also agree that t-shirts aren’t appropriate attire for most teachers. (Maybe the shop teacher and the PE teacher can wear 'em, but if you’re in a classroom, what the hell?) For the record, I’m a former elementary and middle school teacher. I only wore t-shirts a handful of times - usually the day of the faculty-student basketball game.
This reminds me of my government teacher, who was a passionate supporter of Ann Richards when she ran for governor of Texas in 1990. He predicted she would win the nomination of the Democratic Party and we should meet the next governor at the Hyatt downtown. So a couple of my politically minded friends and I headed over to the hotel, navigated the suits and rich people, and found our teacher - totally legless. He got so excited and ran over to hug us, and then started working the Richards campaign folks to meet these young kids from the East Side who came all this way to see the candidate. (Ann Richards was at one point a teacher.) A few minutes later, I was having a conversation about education with Ann Richards - and she kissed me on the cheek. One of my favorite stories about a teacher.
Personal politicking on my taxpayer dime doesn’t cut it with me. As a teacher, you may not be subject to the Hatch Act, but if you were, I would want your scalp.
Duckster, a teacher is not allowed to affect the results of an election, but she or he is allowed to express a personal preference.
When I was teaching, I wouldn’t tell my choice, but I would allow students to discuss.