The Palo Alto Educators Association is reminding teachers to reference their contracts before making any controversial remarks about the presidential election to their students.
According to Appendix G of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the PAEA and the Palo Alto Unified School District, teachers are obligated to “approach controversial issues in the spirit of inquiry rather than advocacy.” Additionally, teachers must “emphasize that differences of opinion and protest are to be exercised” and “respect for minority opinion should be encouraged.”
PAEA also gave teachers’ advice about how to conduct themselves during The Palo Alto Peace March, a student-led walkout scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The march is scheduled to begin before the official end of school, presenting a large attendance issue. While the march’s Facebook event page states that the march “is not directed towards trump specifically” and that “the demonstration is purely peaceful and NOT political,” PAEA urges teachers to keep their contracts in mind.
“While we would never suppress students’ rights to free speech or the right to gather, as educators, we can not promote students leaving classes and possibly school grounds during school hours,” PAEA President Teri Baldwin said. “We need to make sure our classrooms and school campuses are a safe place for all of our students to feel they can share their opinions without judgment or fear of retaliation.”
The issue was recently brought to light when a Mountain View High School teacher was put on paid administrative leave after allegedly comparing president-elect Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.
The current situation opens up important questions about what teachers should and shouldn’t do post-election, in the classroom.
“I think it’s important for teachers to be mindful of their verbiage as they discuss the election because there are students of differing political backgrounds and it could potentially make a student feel uncomfortable knowing their teacher feels a certain way about the topic,” senior Alexandra Stump said.