Academic Freedom Or Propagandizing?

Swedish television showed a documentary made by their correspondents who traveled in
America seeking out views on the upcoming election. “From Bill To Barack” aired on Swedish television a few days before the election, but it has now caused an uproar in several parts of the United States because of comments made by a teacher to a student. Fifth grade teacher, Diantha Harris, was discussing the election and asked a girl named Kathy to give her opinion, given that her father was in the military service. The girl remained silent and then Mrs. Harris said, “it’s a senseless war. And, by the way, Kathy, the person you are picking for president said our troops will stay in iraq for another 100 years.” Her comments were picked up by conservative bloggers and played on Youtube. Many were upset at the words of Mrs. Harris to a fifth grade student.

School Superintendent William Harrison expressed his dismay arguing while “neutral discussion of the political process is appropriate, at not time, particularly with elementary students, should a teacher infuse his/her political views into the discussion.” Mrs. Harris argues her comments were edited to reflect a certain perspective.

A teacher has a right to hold political views, but they should be conveyed in an environment that protects the dignity of children. A fifth grade student does NOT have political views, she was merely reflecting what her mother and father said. According to the report, Kathy did not speak in response to the question, and therefore, the teacher should have respected the silence of the child. There was no need to make negative comments about Senator McCain because to do so is insulting parents– who are not present to defend themselves.