No academic freedom for public school teachers

When Matthew Hawn attempted to teach about white privilege in his high school social studies class in rural Tennessee, he was fired for insubordination and unprofessional conduct (“He Taught About White Privilege and Got Fired. Now He’s Fighting to Get His Job Back,” EducationWeek, Sept. 22).

Although I hope Hawn is rehired, I hasten to point out that he should have known better, particularly as a social studies teacher.  I say that because in 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Evans-Marshall v. Board of Education of the Tipp City Exempted Village School District that only school boards can determine the curriculum. Teachers have no such right.  In short, school districts hire teacher speech.

As a result, teachers who inject material into the classroom that has not been approved expose themselves to dismissal.  I wish that were not the case, but until the courts rule otherwise teachers need to be on guard.

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