By Rep. Lawrence E. Lockman
Should teachers in Maine’s public schools be allowed to advocate for partisan political causes in the classroom?
I don’t think so. That’s why I sponsored LD 589, proposed legislation directing the State Board of Education to draft a Code of Ethics for K-12 teachers.
Simply put, this Code of Ethics would forbid teachers from endorsing candidates as part of their classroom instruction, from introducing controversial material not germane to the subject being taught, and generally from using their classrooms as bully pulpits for political, social or religious advocacy.
There’s abundant evidence that students in Maine’s K-12 government schools are being subjected to leftist indoctrination in the classroom. “Progressive” teachers, administrators and textbook publishers have been working to ensure that students practice “correct thinking” on subjects such as racial guilt, gender identity, illegal immigration and other controversial issues.
As soon as the Code of Ethics bill was referred to the Education Committee for a public hearing, all the usual suspects announced their opposition. The head of the statewide teachers’ union insisted that teachers never engage in political advocacy in the classroom, while the far-left ACLU defended the right of teachers to do exactly that.
Mallory Haar, a teacher at Casco Bay High School in Portland, is one of the bill’s most outspoken critics. She took to Twitter to express her opposition to a provision in LD 589 that would prohibit teachers from “singling out one racial group of students as responsible for the suffering or inequities faced by another racial group of students.” Haar claims this proposed rule would institutionalize “white fragility,” the latest fad in the leftist lexicon of identity politics, and a close relative of “white privilege.”
One can only imagine the level of racial scapegoating and educational malpractice that goes on in Haar’s classroom, with the blessing of Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana, who also tweeted out his opposition to LD 589.
With all this propaganda being spewed in the classroom — crowding out basic instruction in reading, science and math — is it any wonder more than half of Maine high school graduates who apply for admission at their local community college need to take remedial courses?
Anyone who doubts that left-wing extremism is alive and well in faculty lounges in Maine would do well to recall the incident in Rockport three years ago when an assistant principal at Camden Hills High School posted a racist, anti-Christian comment on Facebook.
Get a load of this:
“The only terrorists we need to fear are domestic white ‘Christian’ men with easy access to guns. Vote Bernie. That is all. Enjoy your day.”
The assistant principal deleted his hateful post and apologized profusely after the school was deluged with phone calls and emails. The administration then circled the wagons around the perpetrator, and he was able to hang onto his job, despite his trifecta of racist, sexist, Christo-phobic hate mongering.
At the time, I wondered if that sort of partisanship ever spills over from the faculty lounge into the classroom in Maine’s K-12 classrooms.
Based on what I’ve heard from parents in the last couple of weeks, and from what I’ve seen on social media directly from teachers, it has indeed spilled over. Too many teachers and administrators view the classroom as a taxpayer-funded soapbox to promote their personal opinions on politics.
Such as the elementary school teacher in York County who used her classroom whiteboard to bash Gov. Paul LePage for his allegedly “inept management” of Maine’s economy.
Or the high school in Hancock County where a teacher agreed (out loud) with a student who labeled Trump voters “white trash.”
Recall that last year teachers at a Cumberland County high school facilitated a student demonstration specifically aimed at passage of more restrictive firearms legislation. School officials helped plan the rally and even modified the school schedule to accommodate the anti-gun lobbyist who spoke at the event.
Now more than ever, we need a Code of Ethics for Maine teachers. Our kids and grandkids deserve a quality education that prepares them for rewarding careers, without being indoctrinated in partisan politics and ideology, whether it comes from the left or the right.
Enactment of LD 589 will ensure a level playing field for discussion of controversial issues. And if they haven’t done so already, teachers will just have to learn to check their partisan political opinions at the schoolhouse door.
Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Bradley) is serving his fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives. He is co-founder and president of the conservative nonprofit Maine First Project. He may be reached at [email protected].