The start of the new school year is right around the corner and many parents are concerned about the fact that their children will, once again, be learning in a “virtual” environment due to concerns related to the coronavirus. While the concept of “virtual” learning poses many challenges to students and parents, it also provides a much-needed opportunity to “equal the playing field” in a traditionally left-wing learning environment. More particularly, virtual learning allows parents to listen to what their children are learning, thereby serving as a “check” on teachers who try to use the classroom as a medium to promote their political opinions and agendas.
Most teachers are wonderful people who serve an invaluable role in our children’s lives. Many also tend to support left-wing candidates and/or describe themselves as Democrats. Unfortunately, in today’s polarized political environment, many teachers do not hesitate to impose their political opinions/agendas on their students, who oftentimes feel like they have to acquiesce. By way of example, shortly after President Trump was elected, a middle school teacher refused to include a slide of Trump during a class discussion of the nation’s presidents. Of course, the teacher had no problem including slides of former President Obama and all of the other former presidents. To this teacher, Trump was simply too controversial and, therefore, unnecessary. On another occasion, a teacher encouraged his young students to read sources like the New York Times, NPR and the Washington Post, which the teacher deemed “neutral,” “mainstream,” and with “minimal partisan bias.”
In the traditional classroom, parents typically rely on their children to tell them what they are learning. While some children are happy to share this information, many others choose not to do so. As a result, parents do not necessarily know what their children’s teachers are saying in the classroom.
There are some teachers who keep politics out of the classroom, which is where it belongs. Sadly, however, there are many others who don’t. Some examples can be found here. Moreover, as reported by The Hill, some teachers have also discriminated or retaliated against conservative students who did not support their liberal ideologies. This is not difficult to imagine in light of the perceived power and control that a teacher has over a student.
The virtual learning environment changes this dynamic somewhat. As reported by Fox News, Matthew Kay, who teaches English at the Science Leadership Academy, tweeted:
“So, this fall, virtual class discussion will have many potential spectators — parents, siblings, etc. — in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work? How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of ‘what happens here stays here’ to help this?”
“While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment — I am most intrigued by the damage that ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in the host conversations about gender/sexuality. And while ‘conservative’ parents are my chief concern — I know that the damage can come from the left too. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia — how much do we want their classmates’ parents piling on?”
Herein lies the problem. With all due respect to Kay and many other educators, it is not their place to “teach” our children about such things as homophobia, transphobia, and sexuality. It is also not their role to sharply criticize President Trump, to promote/encourage his impeachment and/or removal, to bolster Joe Biden and his “policies,” and/or to saturate the classroom with their social and political interpretations, definitions, and opinions.
While the same argument holds true for those teachers who promote conservative policies and/or publicly voice support for President Trump in the classroom, these teachers oftentimes face disciplinary action that their left-wing counterparts don’t. High school teacher and coach Justin Kucera’s story is a timely, yet unfortunate, reminder of this. As reported by Glenn Beck, Kucera, who was liked by most students, had no disciplinary action while teaching, and taught social studies in an apolitical way, was fired after tweeting, “I’m done being silent. Trump is our president.”
Fortunately, the online learning environment presents an opportunity for parents to observe and/or listen to what their kids are being told. Unlike the traditional brick and mortar learning environment, where many parents are in the dark about what their kids are learning, the online learning environment provides parents with the opportunity to “check” those teachers who try to use the classroom as a megaphone to promote their political ideologies.
This type of conduct is unacceptable and should not occur in the classroom. Parents put their trust in those who teach their children. In doing so, they expect the teachers and faculty to remain neutral, professional, and to refrain from directly or indirectly pushing/promoting their political agendas/opinions on their students. Teachers are not there to serve as political pundits and/or arms for their respective political party. They should not impose their positions/opinions on young and impressionable children who won’t dare talk back and/or disagree with them.
When this happens, parents must step in. Fortunately, the virtual learning environment puts parents in a better position to do so when necessary.