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One-Sided Politics in the Classroom? An investigation finds conservative students and teachers have concerns about discussing political ideologies in school

School is expected to be an unbiased and safe space for students of all races, religions, sexualities, and genders.

The Squall examined the issue and, unfortunately, the findings seemed to show quite the opposite. In the investigation, many students admitted to not feeling like they are in an accepting environment when it comes to their political beliefs.

The educational system is seen by many to be somewhat left-skewed, and it’s not hard to arrive at this conclusion. According to an Education Week survey, over half of America’s educators voted for Hillary Clinton compared to the 29% who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Student bodies tend to vary district to district, but Dexter High School’s student body is primarily left-leaning. In a 230-student survey, 45.2% claimed to be liberal while 25.7% identified as a conservative. The other 29.1 % identified as being in the middle ground or moderate.

One anonymous student, who claimed to be right-leaning, said, “over the last three years I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and not say a word [regarding politics].”

Another student described a situation where a group of left-leaning students were discussing gun control, and these students stated the solution to mass shootings was for the government to take all the guns away. The anonymous student questioned the group as to how they’d go about obtaining these guns and what they’d do about illegally-obtained guns that were unregistered. The group disregarded their second question and stated “anyone who would refuse to turn in their guns is a horrible person who supports killing of children.”

The two parties continued the discussion and eventually the anonymous student was told they were “a supporter of Donald Trump and how I had no issue with the mass shootings that are happening in America, just like [Trump].”

After showing the group of students research that demonstrated the number of mass shootings has increased with every president, the students ignored their point again and yelled at the student for “wanting mass shootings to happen.”

Another student told a story about a teacher embarrassing them for supporting President Trump. While sitting in the English class, the teacher made a “backhanded comment” about the president. When the student defended Trump, the teacher called them out.

“[The teacher] “embarrassed me in front of the whole class,” they said.

The student left the room, almost dropped the class, and skipped three days because they didn’t want to go back in there.

Eventually the teacher wrote this student an apology letter, but the student said the teacher was “still rude to me the rest of the year.”

“It is hard as a moderately-conservative teacher to feel like you can’t speak openly with colleagues about various issues for fear of being ostracized or labeled as a Trump supporter or something like that. In 2019, being conservative or Republican has somehow become synonymous with being a racist, homophobe, misogynist, sexist and every other undesirable label. It’s unfortunate.” -- An anonymous teacher

Another student was invited to express his views in the classroom and was seemingly alienated and mocked by the teacher. In a discussion regarding guns in schools, a teacher framed a question that made having an opposing viewpoint look wrong. The teacher then asked for a raise of hands who thought it would be a good idea for guns to be in school. The student said the question framing made students who might have wanted to raise their hands feel isolated from their peers.

This student saw what the teacher was doing and still raised their hand. The teacher was allegedly stupefied that a student supported a position the teacher disagreed with and proceeded to make a joke of it, alienating the student for expressing their ideology.

Even some teachers, many supporting the hypothesis that there is a legitimate fear in expressing a more conservative opinion, have learned to stay silent on political discourse.

“It is hard as a moderately-conservative teacher to feel like you can’t speak openly with colleagues about various issues for fear of being ostracized or labeled as a Trump supporter or something like that,” an anonymous teacher said. “In 2019, being conservative or Republican has somehow become synonymous with being a racist, homophobe, misogynist, sexist and every other undesirable label. It’s unfortunate.”

Even the National Educators Association (NEA) can’t remain unbiased. The NEA frequently emails teachers and educators in the teachers union (which is nearly every teacher) articles of topics related to their fields.

On January 11, an article was sent out titled: “Education is Political: Neutrality in the Classroom Shortchanges Students.”

The article encourages teachers to bring personal politics in the classroom rather than trying to strive for neutrality.

The article sites Alyssa Dunn, an assistant professor at Michigan State, who argues that neutrality in the classroom is bad for students without providing evidence or reasoning to back up her claims.

A teacher quoted in the article states, “Trump, unlike any other presidential candidate, stands for everything I work to combat: racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.”

The entirety of the article expresses left-leaning views, bashes the president, and says to bring politics into the classroom but only certain (left-leaning) beliefs. Again, this was sent to every NEA member in the United States.

While schools and the majority of its employees seemingly try to remain unbiased in the classroom and walk the nonpartisan path, it’s clear students and teachers alike feel a clear, blue slant.

While more than 60% of students who identify as liberal or centrists felt safe expressing political viewpoints in school, just 39% of conservative students felt the same way.

“People don’t leave their personal life at the door,” DHS Principal Kit Moran said. “Do we wish they were as neutral as possible in the classroom? Yes.”

There might not be an easy fix to the problem, but there seems to be a logical first step: Acknowledge a problem exists.

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