Judge rules Newberg school ban on political symbols is unconstitutional, ACLU reports
The school board voted to ban symbols that are considered “political, quasi-political or controversial,” including Pride and Black Lives Matter flags.
This is an Oregon circuit court decision, not Oregon Supreme Court decision, so it’s not clear whether the matter is fully resolved or if it will be appealed.
It’s also unmentioned in the story, but we’re talking about the more expansive free speech protections of the Oregon Constitution, not the US Constitution. Specifically, this deals with Article I Section 8: “Freedom of Speech and Press. No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.”
To me it seems like the question is whether this is the applicable law in the context of government employment while on the job, specifically educators in a classroom setting. I continue to argue it is not. (Outside of the captive audience environment of the classroom, I am strongly in favor of educators, like everyone else, exercising their First Amendment/free speech rights.)
If free speech cannot be constrained within the classroom, then it is difficult to see how one stops “education” from becoming “indoctrination.” If anyone has a standard for this, I am interested in hearing it. In light of this decision, what would stop a high school teacher from putting up “Trump 2024,” “Let’s Go Brandon,” and “All Lives Matter” signs in her classroom and from advocating for all these positions while disparaging the opposition? If this is a matter of free speech law rather than employment law, I see no reason why a classroom couldn’t be inundated with rightwing political advocacy instead of leftwing.
None of this is good for kids. It is not how we create competent citizens. It is outside the educational mission of our schools, and it’s not something many of us are inclined to support with tax dollars.