Pennsylvania State Representative Will Tallman (R-193) is proposing a “Teachers Code of Ethics” bill to bring balance to what many are claiming the public-school educational system has become — a minefield of political indoctrination from instructors in the K-12 classroom.
If the bill passes, it would prohibit teachers from endorsing, discussing, or condemning political candidates or elected officials during class time. The “Code of Ethics” also seeks to ban instructors from wading into discussions on pending legislation, regulations, or court cases in any part of government.
It further narrows the field as topics “that hamper or impede” law enforcement actions or military recruiters on campus, would also be strictly forbidden, and violators would be subject to fines, suspensions, and revocation of their state licenses.
Tallman advised his 203 colleagues of his proposal through a memo:
“Our K-12 school teachers should not be using their classroom time spent on political or ideological indoctrination. Doing so takes time away from instruction in the academic foundation subjects of mathematics, science, English, history, and civics, and prevents our students from receiving a high-quality public education for careers in the global, high-tech economy.”
Seems to be a well thought out plan by Tallman, a former Pennsylvania school board member, to bring the current curricula into focus while leaving tension-filled and vitriol discussions off campus.
Oh, but not so fast.
Let Freedom Ring – But not for thee
Detractors of stifling the mostly-leftist rhetoric were aghast that Tallman should even suggest such a thing. David Hudson, a professor at the Nashville School of Law in Tennessee and ombudsman for Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C., opined:
“It runs roughshod over the cardinal principle of academic freedom. In certain classes, political speech and frank discussion is necessary. I mean social studies class, contemporary issues — you need teachers talking about current events.”
Academic freedom? This potential legislation doesn’t fall under the definition of Academic Freedom – as created and outlined by the American Association of University Professors in 1940:
“Academic freedom is the indispensable requisite for unfettered teaching and research in institutions of higher education. As the academic community’s core policy document states, ‘institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free exposition.’”
When educating children of a susceptible age for indoctrination by a teacher, coach, or classmate, Hudson’s argument should be considered dangerous, thereby null and void.
The children Tallman is trying to protect are not out of high school. But then again, start brainwashing early and there will be less resistance.
The First Amendment
Oh, the promise of a First Amendment for all Americans. Yet it’s a subject that causes rancor when wielded by opposing political factions as their own unique weapon against the masses.
Although First Amendment law for K-12 teachers is mostly uncertain, Robert Richards, director of the Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment at Penn State, weighed in with his own opinion, hinting that “They are usually on safer ground” if they express their personal opinion if it directly relates to the class subject matter. He further advises a “blanket prohibition” would likely not pass muster and be invalidated if it was forced to censure a teacher.
Each of these analysts and experts have weighed in on a bill that has not left the first draft stage – there is no text to dissect and examine.
Scott Cosenza, Liberty Nation’s Legal Affairs Editor, summed up the controversy succinctly, saying “It is impossible to fully evaluate the pitfalls of potential legislation, including Constitutional violations, without seeing it. Right now, this is an idea about legislation, and so no-one can say if it is Constitutional or not.”
To Infringe or Not
Tallman spoke on Fox News and explained that he “didn’t want to infringe on anyone’s rights” but that his office had taken enough complaints to warrant an attempt to level the playing field. And if one thinks for just a mere fraction of a minute of why Tallman feels it necessary to fall on his sword in his last term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, click here, and you will understand—but you will have to swallow the bile that bubbles up in your throat.
Just one of a plethora of organizations that flourish under uncontrolled alt-left educators is ReThinking Education. They took pride as an organized to fight Reagan weaponizing school children. Today, they continue to highlight the need to attack conservative thoughts, people, policies, and candidates. In other words, they instruct division.
Will Tallman’s cause be taken up by other state legislatures to protect our children from those who would radicalize them? Should we ban politics from the classroom, or does that cross the line and do more harm than good?