Political discussions take place in the classroom
By Catherine Brown, Photo & Business Editor
Election Day is right around the corner, which tends to bring up controversial political topics in the classroom. However, some students are finding it difficult to speak out about their political views during class.
Junior Isabella Allen was one of many students who was faced with the task of answering political questions in a non-political class.
“I had one main teacher that was heavily promoting his political views and asking students to share their [opinions] openily with the class. And not just broad subjects; instead he was asking really really personal questions.” Allen said.
The students were asked to move their names on a Jamboard, an interactive whiteboard by Google, to whichever side stated the claim that they agreed with. One side stated ‘I like Trump’ and the other stated ‘I don’t like Trump.’
“I feel like political opinions are on the same basis as religion because if teachers aren’t allowed to talk to us about their religious beliefs, then it should be the same thing with politics.” Allen said.
Issues such as these tend to resurface between students and staff every four years in response to the presidential election.
“I have just made it a regular practice to remind staff about what the rights of students are and [what] the responsibilities of staff are related to sensitive or controversial subjects.” principal Danny Rock said.
Despite these reminders to not show political bias, some staff members still speak on their political views during class.
“The same teacher [as before] proceeded to tell parents on curriculum night that he was going to include politics in his classroom… it was definitely not a class where that topic should be brought up.” Allen said.
Political conversations are deemed acceptable when they are taking place in a political class.
“There needs to be a connection to the curriculum. A student shouldn’t expect their PE teacher to start talking randomly about the news of the day. That would have no clear connection to the content.” Rock said.
The question remains as to whether or not teachers should act politically impartial in the classroom.
“I caution teachers from sharing their political bias because of the off chance that it would alienate other students or make them not feel that they are safe.” superintendent Slade McSheehy said.
Although some teachers continue to show their bias, other teachers try to lead the topic to intellectual discussions.
“I try to present a balanced approach, and I’ll often play the devil's advocate when it comes to something, understanding that there’s always a different perspective on every issue,” U.S. government teacher Jason Butler said.
Butler feels as though it is important for students to be informed on the opposing viewpoints.
“As soon as you go somewhere else, millions of people aren’t gonna see it your way… Instead of being in the liberal majority that tends to be on Vashon, you’re gonna be in a vast majority of people who think whatever it is you think.” Butler said.
Even with the differences in politics, we are able to find common ground.
“I often joke with my wife, we'll be in a mall or some other parking lot and we’ll see a bumper sticker that will just drive her crazy. And my joke is, ‘but I betcha they love dogs’. She's an avid dog lover, and you can be republican, independent, democrat and be a dog lover.” McSheehy said.