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DOE: "Schools are not a place for politics"

Here’s official word from Ann Forte of the Department of Education on teachers wearing political buttons while at work:

Schools are not a place for politics and not a place for staff to wear political buttons. During school hours, DOE staff must maintain a posture of neutrality with respect to all candidates in an election. This is a longstanding Chancellor’s regulation that predates the current administration. We don’t want a school or school staff advocating for any political position or candidate to students, and we don’t want students feeling intimidated because they might hold a different belief or support a different candidate than their teachers. The courts have agreed, ruling in several decisions that teachers do not have an unfettered right to express their personal views in school.

A reminder went out in this week’s Principal’s Weekly newsletter, Forte said.

As I noted on Tuesday, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) contests this policy, also citing court cases that back up their view. According to today’s article in the Post, union leaders don’t know of any specific instances this year of teachers being told to remove campaign buttons. The UFT has been distributing Obama-Biden buttons to its members.

Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported yesterday that teachers in a California school agreed to stop wearing “Educators for Obama” buttons in the classroom after a student reported them to her father, who complained to the school. The 16-year-old student said that if the buttons had been pro-McCain, the candidate whom she and her family support, she would have thought it was wrong but probably wouldn’t have mentioned it to her father.

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