Teachers Must Remember They Have Captive Audience

Jay Bennish is getting his job back, probably because he's backed off a bit and allowed that yes, he probably could have picked another dictator to compare to George W. Bush.

Bennish now sees that comparing Bush to Hitler was wrong.

OK. How about Mao? He killed tens of millions.

Same with Stalin. Would either of those have been Bennish's choice? He isn't saying.

But I assume he would use those names. There's no indication his malice for George W. Bush has subsided.

He's just learned to not let it out where anybody can catch him pushing his political views on high school kids.

He'll be more subtle from now on, no doubt. But does anybody doubt that he's a teacher on a political mission?

Same with the high school in Parsippany, New Jersey.

Anybody think the teacher, principal and superintendent of schools realize that their war crimes trial of George W. Bush tipped their hand on their views of Bush?

Calling for a debate on the war or a war crimes trial suggests that up and down the line in that school district, responsible adults felt it was completely fair to hang the war criminal label around Bush's neck.

Think that sends a message to a group of anxious teenagers worried about their college prospects?

I think it does.

Do teachers have a right to do such things?

If the voters in their school district let them, I guess they do. But teachers might not want to live in an environment where voters are constantly looking beyond their teaching skills and into their political views.

Teachers have to remember they have a captive audience of teenagers whose main interest is getting out of high school and moving on to something else. If a left-wing or right-wing teacher is going to make that student jump through political orthodoxy hoops in order to get the grade and move on, there's just something wrong there.

Yes, students must confront the issues of the day. But teachers have to realize that using politically loaded terms — Hitleresque, for instance, or rogue war crimes trial for another — is beyond their free speech rights.

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