Edina Teachers Take Sides In Partisan Politics

Zephyrus is “the official news site of Edina High School.” Students supply most of the content, but on November 22, 2016, 80 teachers–a remarkable number–signed an editorial addressed to the student body. The context for the editorial was the presidential election that had concluded two weeks earlier.

Over the last week, in the wake of a disturbing example of racial hate speech at our school and a historically divisive election, you’ve heard and read a lot of calls for unity for the school and the nation. This letter is not one of them.

The editorial’s theme is that “[u]nity is not a starting point but a destination.” Unity can be achieved only when one side–the liberal one–is finally victorious, and the other side–whoever disagrees with liberal politics–surrenders.

Over the course of the long campaign, multiple groups of students might have felt targeted in some way: black, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ+, and female students–particularly sexual assault survivors–among them.

Targeted by whom? I don’t think they are referring to the Hillary Clinton campaign. And are there really a lot of “sexual assault survivors” at Edina High School? If so, these teachers have a much bigger problem on their hands than the one the editorial addresses. But happily, I doubt that they are serious.

Right now, many of you in these groups feel more vulnerable than usual because of the racist image spread on social media, as well as the results of the election. Know that we will do all that we can to protect you and to fight for you.

What was the the “racist image”? The Star Tribune reports:

The photo was shared through Snapchat, a phone app that deletes pictures or videos after they are viewed. It shows a student’s face with a white robe and hood drawn around him, the letters “K.K.K.” scrawled on the hood and a racial epithet written in text.

That is stupid, obviously, and deplorable. But since the image was sent via Snapchat, everyone knew who the source was. We are talking about one teenager here–and, I hazard a guess, not a very scary one. Did that Snapchat image really terrify a majority of Edina High School students, as suggested by the 80 teachers’ editorial? I sincerely doubt it.

The teachers equate “the results of the election” with the KKK image on Snapchat. Why? They obviously imply that Donald Trump and his supporters are somehow equivalent to the one individual who posted the KKK picture.

Many of you have made clear through conversations with us that right now, you don’t feel physically safe.

Because of a single disappearing Snapchat? Or because Donald Trump–the candidate disfavored by Edina teachers–has been elected president? I don’t think Edina teenagers are that timorous, but the teachers’ political editorializing is inexcusable.

Some of you were crying the morning after the election, worried about possible consequences to others, such as your friends being deported.

So the teachers are scofflaws, opposed to enforcing federal immigration law. But seriously: Edina is a haven for illegal immigrants?

The school building the day after the election was as somber and quiet as we’ve ever seen it.

The 80 teachers who signed this editorial align themselves with the Democratic Party and its candidate, Hillary Clinton. Nearly half of all Minnesotans celebrated the Republican candidate’s victory. But those people are marginalized by Edina’s teachers, who insist that everyone subscribe to the Democratic Party’s narrative.

We are already seeing signs as close as Maple Grove High School that some people feel the election result has validated them to unleash their worst impulses.

One person at Maple Grove H.S. (enrollment 1,651) scrawled offensive graffiti in a bathroom stall. Just as one person at Edina High School (enrollment 2,002) posted an offensive Snapchat. But 80 Edina teachers think that these two people are somehow typical of the many millions who voted for President Trump and that their offensive behavior has something to do with the presidential election.

For our part, we’ll do everything we can to abide by these words by Tom Rademacher, Minnesota’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, which he wrote two days after the election:

Why do they keep talking about the election as if it were some kind of cosmic tragedy? Because they are Democrats, I guess.

“We will fail, but will not accept failure. We will teach. We will teach to fix a world we cannot fix. We will teach rebellion against a broken world. We can do that, starting today.”

That is a silly, grandiose statement, but it seems clear that “rebellion against a broken world” means rebellion against those who are not on board with left-wing politics and who vote for the wrong candidates.

The teachers’ manifesto is clear enough, but if any doubt remains, check out Tim Klobuchar’s Twitter feed. He is a rabid Democrat, and his tweets are devoted almost entirely to attacking Republicans and advancing the interests of his Democratic Party. A few examples:

It goes on and on, just check the link.

For whatever reason, the Edina public schools are paying Democratic Party activists to indoctrinate their children. I wonder how many Edina residents understand this. My guess is, only a small minority. Most people believe that the public schools should be nonpartisan.

So, as a prominent political figure–I forget who–once asked, What is to be done? If you think that teachers should stick to the subjects where they have expertise and refrain from propagandizing their captive students, David Horowitz’s Code of Ethics for K-12 teachers is a good starting point:

Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility For Educators in K-12 Public Schools

Whereas the purpose of public education in America is to produce knowledgeable and competent adults able to participate as informed citizens in the democratic process;

Whereas education in a democracy is best served by teaching students how to think, not telling them what to think;

Whereas our country is divided over many issues affecting its citizens;

Whereas it has been established through testimony at legislative hearings that many teachers in K-12 classrooms are abusing taxpayer resources and abusing their ability to speak to captive audiences of students in an attempt to indoctrinate or influence children to adopt specific political and ideological positions on issues of social and political controversy;

Whereas it has been established that some teacher training institutions, teacher licensing agencies, state education departments and professional teacher organizations have condoned this behavior under the guise of “teaching for social justice” and other sectarian doctrines;

Whereas time spent on political or ideological indoctrination takes time away from instruction in the academic subjects taught by public educational institutions including the foundational subjects of mathematics, science, English, history, and civics and prevents students from receiving the best possible public education as funded by the taxpayers of this state;

Whereas parents and taxpayers have a right to expect that taxpayer resources will be spent on education, not political or ideological indoctrination;

Therefore be it resolved that this state’s [board of education or other relevant regulating body] will promulgate clear regulations and enforcement mechanisms for appropriate professional and ethical behavior by teachers licensed to teach in this state; that these guidelines shall make it clear that teachers in taxpayer supported schools are forbidden to use their classrooms to try to engage in political, ideological, or religious advocacy.

At a minimum, these regulations shall provide that no teacher is permitted during class time or while otherwise operating within the scope of employment as a teacher in a public educational institution to do the following:

(1) Endorse, support, or oppose any candidate or nominee for public office or any elected or appointed official regardless of whether such official is a member of the local, state, or federal government;

(2) Endorse, support, or oppose any pending, proposed, or enacted legislation or regulation regardless whether such legislation or regulation is pending, proposed, or has been enacted at the local, state, or federal level;

(3) Endorse, support, or oppose any pending, proposed, or decided court case or judicial action regardless of whether such court case or judicial action is at the local, state, or federal level;

(4) Endorse, support, or oppose any pending, proposed, or executed executive action by an executive branch agency of the local, state, or federal level;

(5) Introduce into class any controversial subject matter that is not germane to the topic of the course being taught;

(6) Endorse, support, or engage in any activities that hamper or impede the lawful access of military recruiters to campus;

(7) Endorse, support, or engage in any activities that hamper or impede the actions of state, local, or federal law enforcement;

(8) Advocate for any side of a controversial issue, defined as an issue that is a point in electoral party platforms at the national, state or local level.

The regulations promulgated pursuant to this act shall apply to all teachers at public educational institutions, tenured and non-tenured. Moreover, the regulations shall contain clear guidelines for enforcement and provide penalties for violations, up to and including termination. The state’s [board of education or other relevant regulating body] shall provide written notification to all teachers, parents, and students of their respective rights and responsibilities under the regulations promulgated pursuant to this act and shall provide at least three hours of annual continuing teacher education instruction to teachers to instruct them regarding their responsibilities under said regulations.

Moreover, we call on the state’s professional teacher organizations and unions to voluntarily adopt an educators’ code of ethics and professional responsibility that incorporates the above principles and specifically prohibits teachers in K-12 schools from using the classroom for political indoctrination.

If left-wing teachers want to advocate on behalf of their views, they are entitled to do so, no matter how misguided they may be. But they are not entitled to propagandize at the taxpayers’ expense, nor are they entitled to propagandize before audiences of captive students. Edina’s parents should rebel against being forced to subsidize partisan politics in the public schools.