Last Thursday, the Senate’s E-12 Education Policy Committee held a hearing on proposed legislation that would require public schools to strive for academic balance when teaching controversial political subjects. I wrote about the proposed legislation and the hearing here. Several students and parents in the Edina public school system testified in favor of the proposal, along with the Center’s Katherine Kersten. Tim Klobuchar, an Edina High School teacher, was one of those who testified against the legislation.
In his testimony on Thursday, Klobuchar talked about events at Edina High School on the day after the November 2016 election. President Trump’s victory was viewed as a tragedy by Klobuchar and quite a few others at the high school. In response to a question from one of the senators, Klobuchar described how he handled students’ concerns about the election.
I talked to her [a Somali student who had spoken in class] as an aside later on. Frankly, the day, it was just kind of a crazy day. I didn’t really have any great moments that day in terms of teachable moments in front of the class. A lot of these moments were off to the side, not in front of the class. Feelings were very raw that day, and so it just didn’t seem to me to be the time or place to have those kinds of discussions in front of the entire class at that point, everything was at a pretty high emotional pitch at that point. So I thought private conversations were the best way to go.
Here is the audio clip, beginning with the senator’s question:
Tim Klobuchar clearly told the Senate committee that he did not discuss the election with his classes the next day. Rather, he thought “private conversations were the best way to go,” and it wasn’t “the time or place to have those kinds of discussions in front of the entire class.” I want to be scrupulously fair to Mr. Klobuchar. Maybe there is another way of understanding his comments that I am not seeing. If he thinks I have misinterpreted his testimony, I invite him to weigh in in the comments.
Because Mr. Klobuchar’s testimony that he didn’t talk about the election in front of his classes as a whole was indisputably false. In fact, he went on long, partisan, anti-Trump rants before both his 10th grade and 12th grade English classes on the day following the election. This is what he had to say to his 12-grade class:
My job as a teacher…I’ve always been a little bit more probably laid back than a lot of teachers because I don’t really care about a lot of things about school. I care about education and I care about kids and I view my job…as someone better known for talking about books and movies and writing and things like that. But I’m also here, I think, to help us get through this, whatever it is; through the high school experience. Uh high school is not an easy time, I know and I remember. And so that is my job. So I am here, I will still protect people as needed and I will encourage you to protect and take care of other people as well.
And be particularly sensitive to groups who could be subject to some harsh treatment whether it comes from the administration or not it’s pretty clear that many, though not all, of his supporters have some feelings about how things are changing in this country and they don’t like them. So take care of people that you know are people of color, who are of non-dominant sexual orientation and things like that because we need to work together on this. That’s just kind of my main message. I want you to know that I am here to help protect and I will if there’s any kind of incident whether it’s in the classroom or the school or the world at large, I will fight for you and I want to encourage you to educate yourself so that you can make a difference as you graduate from high school, and most of you will graduate this year, and as you go out into the world. So just engage others in discussion and try to make the world a better place.
Do you guys have any…I’m not going to force anyone to talk about it, but I also want to give people space to talk about it if they do want to ask a question or make a comment or something like that. If people don’t that’s totally fine. We’ll start the movie at some point, I’m not trying to monopolize the time with discussion if people don’t want to have it, but I also want to give people space to share their feelings, thoughts. So if anybody has anything go ahead and share it. I’ll give it like 30 seconds for contemplation if no one raises their hand….
So Klobuchar is driving the class toward a discussion of the election results. The impetus comes from him, not the students. What, one might ask, does this have to do with the literature that Klubuchar is supposed to be teaching in 12th grade English?
A student offers a nice comment in response to Klobuchar’s invitation:
I just want to in spite of the vindictiveness involved (indiscernible) I think that it’s really important that we remember above all else we’re still all Americans. (indiscernible)
But the student’s comment was way too inclusive for Klobuchar:
That reminds of one other thing I did want to say. That’s that if you or someone you know voted for…some of you are old enough to vote…voted for or supported Trump, I don’t automatically assume that you are a card-carrying, sheet-wearing racist. Ok? I realize that there are going to be people who that that’s the conclusion they come to. I don’t think that’s true. I do think that there are other factors at play…that came up in this election. I would ask you if you are someone who voted for him, supported him, don’t see what the big deal is, I would ask you to think about what David said and think about what message it sends to a lot of people of color, people of Muslim faith…he made a pretty good run at the Jews towards the end of the campaign you know, think about your Jewish friends, Hispanics the whole thing…
At this point you can hear a student mutter, “Here we go.” Apparently this wasn’t the first anti-Trump or anti-conservative rant to which these students had been subjected.
…through the whole campaign. I would ask you to consider what message that sends to those groups of people…even if you did not intend to send a message of racism and hate. The idea that we’re all Americans is true nominally. Like we are defined as American if you live in this country, you are an American. But a lot of people made the decision to vote for someone who started the birther movement…
This isn’t true, of course. But that is a subject for another day.
…which insinuated and accused the current sitting president of the United States of not actually being an American. And his campaign was waged in such a way that a lot of people felt like he was essentially saying you don’t belong here.
And so supporters need to reckon with that. I’m seeing a lot of rhetoric about like that we really overlooked this group of people who were so mad and like we need to reach out to them. Sure, like we can argue all day what the Democrats should have done to try to appeal to the white rural whites, although it was more than just rural whites, but I’m not going to, and I don’t think we should just give a free pass to them and say that their vote has no consequences because it does. So, anyway, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to start yapping again, but David’s comment just kind of reminded me of something I wanted to say initially.
Other thoughts, or comments, or questions? Again, I’ll give like 30 seconds for people to think.
There you have it: “I don’t think we should just give a free pass to [people who voted for President Trump—the winner of the election, let’s remember] and say that their vote has no consequences because it does.” Tim Klobuchar is an ardent partisan for the Democratic Party and the Left, and he abuses his position of trust as a teacher to inflict his ideology on his students when it has nothing to do with the course he is supposed to be teaching. No wonder Klobuchar didn’t want to tell the Senate committee what he said to his students—as a class, in a group, a captive audience—the day after the 2016 election.
Here is the audio:
On the same day, Klobuchar said essentially the same thing–a very similar anti-Trump, anti-Republican, anti-conservative rant–to his 10th grade English class. Audio of that performance exists, too. So it was a planned effort at indoctrination.
Tim Klobuchar told the Senate Education Policy Committee that he didn’t talk to his classes about the 2016 election on the following day. That, he said, was because he thought “private conversations were the best way to go,” and it wasn’t “the time or place to have those kinds of discussions in front of the entire class.” Audio recordings show that Klobuchar’s testimony was false, and reveal him as a political partisan who misuses his position of trust as a teacher to urge his own left-wing political agenda on his students.