Culture wars lead to teacher firings, resignations – The Washington Post:

A Florida teacher lost her job for hanging a Black Lives Matter flag over her classroom door and rewarding student activism. A Massachusetts teacher was fired for posting a video denouncing critical race theory. A teacher in Missouri got the ax for assigning a worksheet about privilege — and still another, in California, was fired for criticizing mask mandates on her Facebook page.

They were among more than 160 educators who were either fired or resigned their jobs in the past two academic years due to the culture wars that are roiling many of the nation’s schools, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports. On average, slightly more than two teachers lost their jobs for every week that school remained in session.

The teachers included in the analysis all lost their employment when hot-button cultural, racial, political or pandemic issues intersected with their ability to teach, either because the teacher sought to address controversial topics in the classroom or because administrators took issue with the teacher’s views as expressed inside or outside the classroom.

I made the case several years ago that teachers should not bring their politics into the classroom. I was told, by teachers themselves in some cases, that I was wrong. That support for Black Lives Matter was not political. That support for various political positions in classrooms was not only right but necessary. 

My counter argument was and remains that teachers do not have a pure free speech right inside a classroom. They are government employees and address a captive and impressionable audience. Students who might be on the opposite side politically may be particularly alienated. I have yet to be persuaded otherwise. 

So here we are. Politics roiling classrooms, with teachers getting fired and resigning under pressure. 

“Our educators,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, “are being caught in the crosshairs of the culture wars.”

She said many teachers were already exhausted before the wave of high-profile conflicts over what can be taught or expressed, tired out by pandemic-induced stress and the extra demands being made on both their professional and personal lives. She predicted the wave of firings and resignations will only grow in months to come — and warned some educators will refrain from teaching sensitive topics due to fear of backlash in the meantime.

There is a difference between teaching about a subject and taking a position on a subject. For example, an educator can take an incredibly contentious topic like abortion and explain the arguments of both sides without biasing the information. And if a teacher can’t do that, well, another line of work likely is more appropriate, because students deserve better than propaganda.