State Rep Wants To Ban Political Discussions in School – Good Idea?

Is it appropriate for teachers to discuss politics with their students? State Representative Will Tallman doesn’t believe so. The Pennsylvania legislator is proposing a “Teacher Code of Ethics” that would restrict the kind of contemporary issues that teachers could bring up in the classroom.

Tallman wants to see discussions of political platforms, bills, executive actions, ongoing court cases and other potentially controversial issues kept out of schools entirely. Teachers who broke this (proposed) law would either get suspended or potentially lose their teaching license.

“Our K-12 school teachers should not be using their classroom time spent on political or ideological indoctrination,” said Rep. Tallman.

Not many would disagree that we don’t want our children indoctrinated – the question, of course, is whether indoctrination is even a problem in the classroom. By Tallman’s own admission, in his time as a member of a school board, he can’t recall any complaints that school employees were pushing political agendas.

Regardless of how substantial the problem is, Tallman’s “solution” for the perceived problem goes way overboard. Part of education is preparing the next generation to be informed citizens. In forbidding conversations about current political topics, we’re not giving students the tools to be thoughtful about these issues, or the encouragement to be politically active.

As a former teacher myself, I can say that teachers already take an ethical approach to these topics. Rather than injecting our own opinions into these discussions, we open the floor to the students to express their thoughts and viewpoints. I had more faith in the students who left my class knowing how to better think critically about issues than the ones that might have agreed with me in the moment because they’d be able to tackle subsequent issues with wisdom, as well.

Presumably, that’s part of what conservatives like Tallman are afraid of. Given the GOP’s current approach of spreading misinformation and counting on the votes of a less educated populace, it doesn’t seem like they want future generations who are knowledgeable or even particularly interested in politics, and that goes double for people who will engage critically with what leaders say.

Opponents of Tallman’s proposal cite constitutional concerns, on top of everything else. Restricting teachers’ speech could contradict the First Amendment. If a bill of this nature were to pass, it’d inevitably head to court to determine whether it could even stand.

Normally, bad legislation like this would be a reason to call for Tallman to get ousted in the next election, but Tallman will be leaving office at the conclusion of his current term. Hopefully, this notion will leave Pennsylvania’s state government along with him.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

40 comments

Ann B
Ann B16 days ago

bad idea as long as they are calm/controlled discussions

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga1 months ago

thx

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Paul B
Paul B1 months ago

The left will never agree to this, unless their radical leftist ideals are exempt. Without any discussion of politics in school, the left will lose their ability to brainwash and indoctrinate the young sponges in school.

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Paul C
Paul Cole1 months ago

i thought teachers believed that more knowledge is better, i disagree with restricting knowledge of any kind ignorance is not better.

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Ann B
Ann B1 months ago

i was a teacher too and from what i see and hear today the kids ARE NOT learning much...phones do not belong in schools, a dress code is needed and ESPECIALLY no matter what is taught-=-- the lesson should demand the discussion be cool calm and collected NOT A SHOUTING MATCH like the parents so as an example----take a ballgame as an example!!!!!! nuf said

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN h1 months ago

tyfs

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Julie W
Julie W1 months ago

I was educated in the UK and left school in the 50's. We had no such discussions, and I wish we had done. It would have prepared me better for the world we live in and the choices I had to make.

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Shirley S
Shirley S1 months ago

Discussions & debates on different issues is normal & an exciting part of education.

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Robert Fitzgerald
Robert Fitzgerald1 months ago

Political discussions are an essential part of Civics, which in turn is an essential topic or course within a democratic educational system. Something conservatives cannot argue effectively. Coherent political discussions run against mindless religious ideology.

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Mary B
Mary B1 months ago

Kids definitely need to have the foundation of how our political system works. A 2 party system. One representing primarily the interests of business and the other representing the interests of ordinary people. Many other smaller party's too, but when it comes down to voting, if you want your vote to count for more than your personal opinion, then you need to decide which of the main parties to vote for. And start at 4th grade and show them how registration works and how the machines work. Simple stuff with simple reasons as to why it is all so important. The word civics could be subtitled "How the world of adults work" so it will give them something that sounds interesting. Explain that business calls people "consumers" because they buy things and Dems call people workers because they build or grow the products that are consumed. The rest will need to be incorporated as the kids get older and form more adult questions. No more of this people voting against their own best interests because they don't understand the function of each party.

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