Teachers are entitled to their opinions — as long as they keep them to themselves

February 8, 2018 — by Ryan Kim

The First Amendment dictates that all citizens are allowed to have their own opinions and voice their thoughts, so long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others.

In such a polarized country, public schools have become a battleground for the political forces that are raging. Though teachers obviously have the right to free speech, they must also respect the opinions of their students as well as their particular roles as educators rather than proponents of an ideology.

Saratoga High does remarkably well in promoting objective education, but teachers are still prone to introducing their own biases. Although teachers across campus constantly affirm that it is not their place to share out their own opinions, they nevertheless sometimes insinuate their derision or support for a political candidate, especially during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Classes that involve more critical thinking in reading, like English or history classes, generally promote a sharing of ideas from both students and teachers. Government classes often discuss the various implications of political decisions and personal attachments to certain organizations. Teachers in more humanities-focused courses often tell personal anecdotes of their own opinions on issues, especially regarding religious or moral beliefs.

While teachers’ passionate support of their own ideals — as well as their attempts to remain neutral in their roles as teachers — is commendable, public schools must remain neutral in the battleplace of ideas.

The point of an education system is to teach students how to think, not what to think.

That’s why we have a secular nation rather than a theocracy or the secular equivalent; we respect freedom of ideas and thought instead of forcing our opinions upon others.

Just as we separate government from our respective religious beliefs in our country, so too should teachers not teach their own beliefs as the absolutely right answer.

 

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