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Reading Teacher Essay

How should the proper balance between teacher freedom and responsibility be determined? Position 1: Fir increased Academic Freedom: * Schools are at the center of local debates about touchy subjects such as, morals, sex and sexual orientation, religion, politics, economics, racism, and a host of other social value controversies. * Censorship denies, defeats, or diminishes academic freedom! * Sex, Politics, and Religion: A few Cases * A parent in Loathe, Kansas, demanded that John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men be banned from the school curriculum and classroom because the book is “worthless” and “profanity filled.

” The Majority rejected the effort. * In Oakley, California, some parents wanted the same Steinbeck book banned for racial descriptions. * Schools use the popular Philip Pullman book The Golden Compass was protested by a group of parents and Christian leaders in Winchester, Kentucky; because Pullman was call “an atheist” and the book “anti-Christian. ” * A high school history teacher in Denver Public Schools was dismissed because the city newspaper published his and other candidates’ views as they ran for congressional seat” the district thought his views were too controversial.

He won the case but the district limited him to teaching Basic English and erased his teaching history. * A high school student paper in Bakersfield, California, was prohibited from publishing a story with interviews about gender identity, but a county judge ruled that student to have the right to exercise freedom of speech. * Most frequently banned books: Harry Potter, Diary of Anne Frank, Catch-22, Farewell to Arms, Deliverance, The great Gatsby, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Chocolate War, and Slaughterhouse Five.

Even some comic books suffered censorship. * Most censored authors: Judy Blume, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck, J. D. Salinger, Toni Morrison, R. L. Stine, Maurice Sendak, William Golding, and Rovert Cormier. * Quotes about censorship from famous figures: * Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. ” * Historian Henry Steele Commanger: “Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of real discretion.

” * Actress, playwright, screen writer, and sex symbol Mae West: “I believe in censorship. I have made a fortune out of it. * Climate of Fear * Challenges to school and library books have been 400 to 500 per year over the past three decades. A lot of the challenges were mostly by individual parents. Organized efforts have joined. * Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (PABBIS) and safelibraries. org. * On safelibraries. org they have published the most shocking and inappropriate segments of each book.

* A lot of schools try to limit controversy by passing strict policies that are even sometimes illegal. * Good school districts have splices and practices that promote academic freedom which doesn’t allow for parents, students, and the public to challenge or raise questions about what is taught and how. * What happens? Teachers lose jobs, students can be suspended, and teachers avoid controversy, and education suffers. * We need freedom: Intellectual freedom! * A Necessity, Not a Frill * Academic Freedom = Free Society, which is what our Nation was founded on.

* It is increasingly important for teachers to become more active advocates for academic freedom in public discourse and in political arenas. * Democratic education requires debate and discourse – only with teacher freedom can this happen. * Freedom to teach and learn is basic to good education. * Arguments against Academic Freedom * Based on traditional ideas that teachers are not “scholars,” they have a captive audience, they can influence impressionable minds and they are public employees subject to the will of board and administrators.

* The argument against those that believe in those traditional ideas is that our education system now requires teachers to have scholarly qualities; students are expected to inquire and challenge rather than just be a captive audience. * Mischief in Defining Academic Freedom * Zealots everywhere (Zealot being someone who believes their way is superior) has tried to use schools as agents to impose their views and values on the young. They don’t want schools to present opposing views or conflicting evidence and are against real critical thinking.

* Academic Bill of Rights – is a bill of rights that demands neutrality for institutions and requiring a diverse faculty along political lines. This bill of rights is for colleges but is popping up in precollegiate schools. * Academic Freedom Petition – a single-issue document that argues that academic institutions should ensure student and teacher freedom to discuss scientific strength and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. * The problem with these two laws/bills is that they contain seeds of censorship and self-censorship to avoid controversial subjects.

This twisted use of academic freedom can cloud the more valuable condition needed for critical thinking in schools and colleges. * A threat to academic freedom – self-censorship – When teachers screen ideas from classroom use in order to avoid controversy. * Conclusion: Fear threatens academic freedom! * The Essential Relationship of Academic Freedom to Democracy. * Democracy states that people are capable of governing themselves. People can make knowledgeable decisions and select intelligently from among alternative proposals. * The Evolution of Expansion of Academic Freedom.

* We have adopted German theory – Lehrfreiheit and Lernfreiheit – the freedom of teachers to teach and learners to learn without institutional restrictions. * Socrates – was said to be sinful and wicked because he and his students had the freedom to pursue truth. All wickedness, he argued, was due to ignorance; freedom to teach and learn would uncover knowledge, eliminate ignorance and improve society. The judges at that time did not agree and Socrates was sentenced to death. * Courts, in general, have exhibited an expanding awareness of the need for academic freedom in schools and have provided protection for teachers.

* Educational Grounds for Academic Freedom * Where if not in schools will students be able to explore and test various ideas, new concepts, and challenge propaganda in a safe and guided environment? * The classroom serves as a “safe place” to explore without social condemnation or ridicule. * Education consists of ideas and challenges, increasingly sophisticated and complex. * Learning best occurs as people test new ideas against their own experiences and knowledge. – that testing requires academic freedom. * Not operating in this manor will risk conformity.

Students will not examine controversial material in schools that students will not be challenged and participate in critical thinking. * The Center of the Profession * Basically we’re currently trained and we know what we’re doing. Professional Development and certification has equipped us uphold ethics and values. * A professional teacher must be free to examine controversial issues openly in the classroom. * Teacher jobs must not be at risk because they explore controversial material or consider ideas out the mainstream.

* We need individuality. * Academic Freedom and Teacher Competency: the Tenure Process * Non Tenure – Incompetent teachers do not deserve and should not receive that extra protection; they should be dismissed if a fair and evidential evaluation find them incompetent. * Teacher competence is a mix of knowledge, skill, and judgment. * Knowledge of the material. * Of the students in class * Professional skill in teaching. * Professional judgment. * Under tenure law teachers cannot be fired without due process and legitimate cause.

The tenured teacher who is threatened with firing has a right to know specific allegations, a fair hearing, and an evidentially based decision. * Obstacles for Academic Freedom * Religious schools sometimes fired teachers for anti-moralistic requirements, sin, not attending religious services, and not exhibiting sufficient religious enthusiasm. * At the beginning of the nineteenth century teachers were fired for not remaining single, avoiding drinking and smoking, dancing, political views, etc. * At the first half of the twentieth century, political restraint and censorship replaced religious and moralistic restrictions on teachers.

* John Dewy and other scholars founded the American Association of University Professors in 1915 which recognized that even then all teachers, not just those in colleges, needed academic freedom. * Some states have tons of censorship attempts each year by parents, school boards, administrators and parents. * The internet * Scare tactics are set up to block access to many “good” internet sites (our school, example). * Many teachers avoid significant topics to sterilize to the point of student boredom. * National Coalition Against Censorship has been created.

Position 2: For Teacher Responsibility * Teachers use classroom for political platforms (especially in colleges). * Power and Responsibility in Teachers * Teaching is among the most influential position in society. Teaching is next to parenting in its power to carry values and ideas from generation to generation. * The influence of teachers goes will beyond the classroom doors, school grounds, and school term; teachers exert influence that can last for years and even lifetimes. Teacher’s ability to influence their students is a huge responsibility.

* Parental Rights * If parents can be held accountable for their children, so should teachers. (Even though they don’t) * Schools must give supportive social and family values among our youth. * Public school teachers are even more accountable than private ones to the community and to parents for what they teach and how. * Teacher Responsibilities to Parents * Teachers must remain sensitive to parent interests. * Teachers have responsibilities for providing a safe, healthy classroom environment, and assume protective moral ethical and legal duties.

* Parents sometimes don’t know what’s going on in the classroom until the damage is already done. * Parents have the right to monitor. * PABBIS lets parents see various pieces of literature and provides evidence to help them make rational judgment about the material. * Internet Access is becoming a huge problem. * There exists a serious problem in Internet usage when websites continue inhumane, anti-American, racist, Antiauthority, sexual, antireligious or other inappropriate material that can be accessed at schools. * Teacher Responsibility to Children.

* Children are vulnerable * Children look to teachers for direction. * Children are immature and unformed. Teachers must be careful. * Teacher Responsibility to Society * Society trusts teachers to develop the young into positive, productive citizens. * Teacher Responsibility to Their Profession. * Teachers can be the key to good education, or poor education * Teachers have the responsibility to recognize children’s needs and academic development. * Teacher Irresponsibility * Tenure covers poor teachers and socially dangerous teachers.

* Sometimes teachers will start to threat a school with atheism, Satanism, sicalism, communism, and take other extreme positions after they’ve been tenured. Deeming themselves as “untouchable. ” * Tenure laws make it almost impossible to rid schools of poor teachers. * Academic Freedom of License * A license to teach is not a license to impose one’s views on others. * Sometimes teachers who “mind bend” for years and teach in an unethical manor gets by because administration is afraid to reprimand them. * Tenure teacher firing is rare.

* Tenure laws create burdensome requirements that save teacher jobs even when those teachers have demonstrated a lock of respect for parents, students, and community values. * We need to make it easier to fire teachers. * 18 states have modified tenure regulations; the Education Commission of the States website shows current state approaches. Idaho has completely eliminated teacher tenure and other states are considering major reform. * Conclusion : * Teachers deserve respect and appreciation for their contributions to society, decent salaries, and comfortable working conditions.


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