When Freedom of Speech Comes with a Price

2013 was an interesting year for educators, to say the least. Left and right, teachers have been making the headlines for the things that they have been communicating, directly and indirectly, to their students. Many parents are infuriated, students are confused, and teachers are losing their jobs, all because they freely shared their personal thoughts and ideas.

Which is worse:
1. A teacher telling an African American student that “we don’t need another Black president?”
2. A teacher telling young students that Santa Clause doesn’t exist?
3. A teacher telling kids that there is no God, it is just a myth?

When does freedom of speech reach a limit, if ever at all? The great debate is as educators, do teachers have the right to share their own thoughts and ideas with their students, even when their thoughts oppose the beliefs of the children and their families? What do you think?

8 Responses to “When Freedom of Speech Comes with a Price”

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  1. Educator says:

    I think that number one is the worst; the comment: “we don’t need another Black president.” The other actions pose layered wrongs in my mind, but to me the first action is most offensive because it is the most personally directed towards the child, and no doubt negative. Dismissing God and Santa may negatively impact a child’s perspective of the world or some realm of their intellectual, imaginative, and/or faith-based thought, but those comments do not directly, personally attack the child, as the first comment does. The teacher disrespects, dismisses the worth of, belittles, imposes inferiority and cuts at the child’s self esteem by the comment of not needing another black president, presented to the black child, particularly, but to anyone it is wrong! Not wanting an individual in office based on their politics, their values, or attitude makes sense, but not wanting an individual in office based on their race is racist and a hateful stance; and most aggregious directed at an innocent child victim of the hateful perpetrating voice practicing freedom of speech. Also, if you read the full article, it is clear that this teacher practices hate ongoing, as this was not his first offensive/racist comment/action in the classroom. I urge all readers to read the comments from others posted to the articles, directly; they all make for interesting commentary on human thought and nature! Some arguments compelling, others seem to be very thoughtless.

  2. Latasha says:

    I think all three is pretty bad. Teachers are very significant part of our younger generation’s upbringing. But like everything in life, there are boundaries. At some point, you have to know when you’re crossing line of a teacher – student relationship into parent – child.

  3. Drew says:

    I definitely can’t pick which is worse. Telling any student (regardless of whether or not the student is African American) that we don’t need another black president misses the entire point of what political debate should be happening in class (not to mention is prejudice). A teacher should challenge students with questions that relate to policy making and focusing on the ethnicity of the president entirely misses the challenging discussion that should be going on. Telling a little kid there is no Santa is not a teacher’s place and is really sad. Telling them there is no God should never come up in conversation (at least in MA public schools) as it is not even close to any of the state curriculum. Overall teachers should challenge students with questions and the best teachers have students guessing on the teachers’ personal opinions all year because they are that good at challenging all sides of a debate and making students think for themselves and become informed citizens.

  4. Joe Whiting says:

    What’s worse than any of those indefensible statements is spelling Santa Claus wrong.

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