Indoctrination, a Hero Emerges, and a Code of Ethics

Indoctrination

The other day I came across an article called Stop Indoctrinating Our Children.  that struck a chord with me.  Having had a career in education, I know things have changed and I thought what I read in the article wasn’t right.  Whether you agree with everything in the article or not, I would venture to say you will probably find things that strike a chord with you as being wrong.  One may wonder whether the examples are exaggerated, fictional, or distorted by being taken out of context.  In the news recently there have been two examples of  teachers using their position for the purpose of influencing or indoctrinating students with regard to political and ideological positions and issues.

Almost as if on cue, yesterday a friend sent me a link to ‘America’s Never Been Great’: Student Records Teacher Saying Trump ‘MAGA’ Slogan Trying to Bring Back Segregation.

A Hero Emerges

 The above video is the same as the video on the linked article.  It does have a little more discussion at the end that is worth watching if you already watched the video in the article.

My heart goes out to the students, parents, community, and all others affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  This unfortunate incident has sparked some much needed discussion.  It has also spawned the schools being used for the purpose of influencing or indoctrinating students under the veil of paying respects for the victims and their families.  The needle has been cued up for the voice of our country’s youth to be heard.  Unfortunately, some of the voice that is being heard resembles disrespectful bad mouthing, making uncompromising demands, and profanity laced rants.  Maybe it is the media at play here capturing what can be sensationalized rather than capturing what I hope is more representative of our youth.

From a situation where a teacher is using their position to influence and indoctrinate, a hero emerges.  The gender of the word hero and its use here is another issue.  Hero is an acceptable form to use.  Josie Orihuela is a welcomed breath of fresh air.  She is a hero in my eyes.  I am confident there are lots more students like Josie across the country. I fear they may be intimidated and get overshadowed by others who may be more outspoken and capture attention with disrespectful bad mouthing, uncompromising demands, and profanity laced rants.  Good for Josie.  She helps restore some faith.  She would make a good spokesperson for the today’s youth.

Reading the article and watching the video featuring Josie, led me to another article, GA Teacher Assigns Students to Write Letters to Lawmakers Pushing for Gun Control.

The linked article and video presented above are the second recent example of  teachers using their position for the purpose of influencing or indoctrinating students with regard to political and ideological positions and issues.

Two separate and different incidents.  Two different teachers.  Maybe it is just a coincidence that both incidents took place at the same school.

I know things have changed since I started my career in education in the mid 70s.  The focus at that time was on providing students with an academic and knowledge based education.  Now, without an open discussion, it seems the purpose of education is for work force preparation with a strong side of indoctrination, or maybe it is the other way around.  Has it really reached the point that it is acceptable for teachers to use their position for the purpose of influencing or indoctrinating students with regard to political and ideological positions and issues?  Is this being promoted from somewhere up the food chain?  I would like to think not, but it is not unusual for me to be wrong.

Is it time for a Code of Ethics like the one presented below?  While I don’t recall such a written code from when I started my career, it seems to me there was a similar unwritten code that was understood.

The Code of Ethics below prohibits teachers from using their position for the purpose of influencing or indoctrinating students with regard to political and ideological positions and issues.  This Code of Ethics was found here.

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 in a partisan manner 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. To ensure that students have the resources to make up their own minds on such issues, teachers must provide them with materials supporting both sides of the controversy, and present those views in a fair-minded non-partisan manner. Teachers may express their opinions on these matters but only in such a manner that students understand that they are free to make up their own minds and to disagree with the teacher without incurring any penalty for doing so.

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.

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