Should this sign be in a classroom at a Rutherford County Schools (RCS) middle school?
This is a real question for parents, as this sign was sent to us by an RCS parent from a Smyrna Middle School classroom. This information has been reported to the respective school board member, and we are awaiting feedback from the parent.
In the meantime, we can look at existing RCS policies for some guidance on whether the teacher is breaking the rules:
1. Rutherford County Board of Education Policy Manual addresses “Controversial Issues” in section 4.800.
– The policy says, “The discussion of issues in the classroom which are politically, philosophically or socially controversial shall be relevant to the subject matter being taught, related to educational objectives, appropriate for the age and maturity of students…”
– The policy focuses on framing controversial issues from both sides of an issue, but also says: “Teachers shall place major emphasis upon “why” and “how” to think rather than “what” to think.”
– Potential policy violation: This sign is a statement of advocacy, not neutrality.
– Potential policy violation: Was this sign part of classroom instruction? If so, was the other side of these statements discussed. Also, were both perspectives presented in a neutral way with knowledge as the focus, not advocacy?
– Clear policy violation: if this sign was not part of neutral, two-sided discussion, it is pure advocacy and clear violation of the school policy.
2. A 2nd RCS policy violation may also have happened here if the sign was not part of a neutral and two-sided classroom discussion.
– There is a policy for “Political Activities” in section 5.606 of the manual, which says: “Employees may, on their own time, campaign for or against any candidate or referendum, but they shall not use the schools, the classroom or system position for political forum nor engage in any political promotion or solicitation during school hours.”
Rutherford Students First (RSF) can’t make this more clear. We do NOT want any politics or personal agendas in the classroom. Not “right.” Not “left.” Nothing.
Despite what the unions are telling their members, teachers should NOT be activists in the classrooms. This is not their job.
Regardless of how you feel about any of the slogans on this sign, it is not the place of teachers to advocate for these perspectives. If teachers put a sign up opposing all of these viewpoints, we would condemn that sign as well. The problem isn’t the perspective. It’s the advocacy and insertion of personal politics and agenda into the classroom. This is unacceptable, no matter what the perspective.
If you are ready to join the fight against political agendas in RCS classrooms, sign up here.