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Sound off: What is USD 497’s policy on teachers espousing their personal political and religious beliefs in class? My daughter has been inundated with anti-Republican and anti-Catholic sentiments lately.

The school board’s policies “state that professional employees and classified staff members ‘shall not use school time, school property or school equipment for the purpose of furthering the interests of any political party, the campaign of any political candidate or the advocacy of any political issue,’” said Julie Boyle, the district’s director of communications. In addition, she said, another policy says, in part: “When religion is included in the curriculum, the focus shall be on the study of what people believe, but must not be on teaching a student what to believe. The purpose is to educate, not convert. The instruction is academic, not devotional or preferential.” Boyle asked anyone with concerns about whether employees are adhering to policies to contact their child’s principal. USD 497’s Board Policy Manual is at usd497.org/AboutUs/SchoolBoard/ on the district’s website.

Comments

Carol Bowen 2 years ago

Even college students are greatly influenced by what they hear in the classroom. Don't get too comfortable thinking that you have taught your children to be independent thinkers. It is the responsibility of teachers to avoid biases.

It concerns me that the response from Boyle was a typical bureaucratic brush off. How hard would it be to send out a reminder of the school policy on bias to all teachers? This doesn't need to start out as a problem with a teacher. It would be better to give fair warning.

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kugrad 2 years, 1 month ago

While I sincerely doubt there is any truth to the original claim that starts this discussion, I will comment as a long-time teacher. I will not tell students who I am voting for, although I might give it away if my car has a bumper sticker (which it currently doesn't, but who knows). I try very hard to be even-handed in any discussion, letting the STUDENTS talk about their views, asking questions, and not indicating my preferences. I want to bring out both sides of an issue, but I do not want to advocate for one or the other. My goal is to help raise students who think for themselves. It would be wise for parents to do the same, but that is their choice, not mine.

In my building, I am certain this is the prevailing philosophy. The chances are good that the original question arises from a misunderstanding or miscommunication of some sort.

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ivalueamerica 2 years, 1 month ago

partisan political rhetoric should be left to moderated discussion from the students, learning to express, support, defend their opinions and have them challenged. Teachers should moderate with neutrality.

As far as anti faith discrimination, if that really happened, it is also completely not acceptable, however, most of the time I hear people whining over the anti religion card, they are really upset because their desire to force others to practice their version of their faith has been challenged.

They mistake freedom of religion with religious supremacy. Just like white supremacy, black supremacy, male supremacy, religious supremacy is a violation of the values of this country and the law.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 1 month ago

I am impressed by the grown-up quality of your response. Thank you for showing me what you think mature looks like, it answer my query quite effectively.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

Like a weeping Nanny Pelosi and Chuck the Duck All Water In The United States ponds, rivers, streams, run off needs to clean enough to swim in, and oh by the way guns should be banned New York Senator Schummer for example.

This green belch stuff sounds so good...........to

Yep, sounds good to high school kids, then of course they grow up and realize there is farming, there are ranches, there are lands near border areas, and by golly they could actually own one someday.

jonas, actually many of us are starting to realize we have gone so far socialist this nation is gone forever. Actually socialist is not quite the word, Nanny State is better. We have far too many folks who never heard John F. Kennedy say ask not what your country can do.............

Obama 2012.........yes ask beg demand the country does something for you, just do as Michelle and I say, not do.

Yep Jonas maybe time I need to think differently. Hey, I can give your money for donations, pay somebody to volunteer, instead of helping people just show them how to get a free chow card. Really easy to do, give using others money and freedom.

Mr and Mrs. Wissmo need to learn how to reach the hand out palm open while begging more more more.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 1 month ago

Your defense of your statement is how long it's been around? Haha.

If conservatives were, as you say, adult and grown-up by definition, then why do so many of them act like petulant children who aren't getting their way?

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

jonas, the saying is as old as American politics. Conservatives are simply grown up democrats.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 1 month ago

"Conservatives believe and rightly so, when a person is ready to understand and not react like a burro with burrs under the saddle to complex problems, then they change to Republican."

Yes, the rest of us understand that you believe that, and if a single premise in that thought held any observational validity, then you might be on to something. Sadly, however, not a single one does. Except, of course, "conservatives believe". That one bears itself out under observation. They certainly do.

One might even say they have faith.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

Conservatives believe and rightly so, when a person is ready to understand and not react like a burro with burrs under the saddle to complex problems, then they change to Republican.

Most often it comes when they begin paying in taxes, and not thinking the government is giving money back to them. Hey folks, it's always been your money.

What I can't understand is why in Lawrence with all the LImo LIbs on the HIll living in cool ranch houses making big bucks, sipping booze off the golf courses traveling to France every two years on students dime, we have the 60 year old libs who serve us french fries living in squalor with no health care.

They need to develop a museum of old hippies.

This I will never understand.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

Good God Agnes, when a Lawrence Lib thinks the public schools are a bastion of free exchange of conservative and liberal ideas we have some serious problems.

LHS Young Dems, LFSHS Young Dems.............Green Party yes, any other cause left wing cause yes.......Conservative groups, nope.

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lunacydetector 2 years, 1 month ago

i cannot wait to walk through the halls of our local schools in a few months seeing the "Obama" bumper stickers pinned to some of the cork boards of the classrooms, then i'll recall this sound off question and the official school policy, when i complain.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

Agnostick, ummm what planet and what age are you living in right now. Teachers have great impact on young minds. Personally I do have problems with if my son was correct in telling me about open campaigning by Government teachers at LHS for Obama.

BTW........of all folks hurt by President Obama teachers as many government workers barely noticed the monster recession under his leadership.

Inflation has not hurt folks getting a regular salary or even raises. Once ObamaCentric programs really hit home come the cruelest of the cruel, inflation on top of overinflated energy prices.

Again, if you get free chow, and housing what does inflation mean to those on the dole? Teachers are not on the dole and will feel 30 percent inflation. They align themselves with thoughtless get elected officials who only vote more more more without thought to who is paying. If I was a teacher, you bet I'd be on the line for Obama types.

You will begin to see real cracks in Obama support, Kansas pays teachers very poorly. Not like Wisconsin.

Like any other government tax paid worker dropping 10-30 teachers in district like normal people deal with home budgets and you would hear squealing like stuck pigs.

Yet, we cut cut cut, why can't government?

Pretty sure LPS could cut, tweak, move, and be creative in making our district more efficient financially.

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Agnostick 2 years, 1 month ago

If teachers are having a larger impact on your child's thinking than you are.... the problem most assuredly is not the teachers...

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Agnostick 2 years, 1 month ago

Classic!

"Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you're being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don't forget what you're celebrating, and that's the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn't want to pay their taxes."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106677/quotes

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seriouscat 2 years, 1 month ago

It would not matter if your teacher were conservative, liberal...or any of the other BS labels people like to throw around if schools actually did what they are supposed to do: Teach people how to THINK. As long as thinking critically = intellectualism=the devil, schools will serve to indoctrinate in line with whomever gets to decide on the angle of the truthiness.

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jonas_opines 2 years, 1 month ago

List of People, Groups, Publications, Creatures, and Inanimate Objects Conspiring Against the GOP, and therefore, America:

Liberals Democrats Socialists Geologists Biologists Meteorologists Atheists Muslims Jews ABC NBC CNN CBS PBS All of cable except FNC The New York Times The LA Times The Washington Post The Associated Press Reuters BBC The Guardian Black People Mexicans Human Rights Activists SCOTUS Europe Movie Industry Television Industry Environmentalists ACLU The United Nations UAW SEIU AFL-CIO Colleges Teachers Professors ACORN National Endowment for the Arts Gays Judges NPR Paleontologists Astrophysicists Museums (*except Creationism Museum) WHO WTO Inflated tires The Honolulu Advertiser The Star Bulletin Teletubbies Sponge Bob and Patrick Nobel Prize Committee US Census Bureau NOAA Dogs Sesame Street Dictionaries Comic Books AARP Condos

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 1 month ago

Good grief, bet there are not more than 5 conservative teachers at either LHS or FSH. Not a huge problem for many former students figure the truth out on their own in later life.

No problem, couldn't be a teacher. What a job, and many do it with great skill.

Teaching is a bastion of liberalism. They never grow up. Public education, college, then into the brink of the difficult job of teaching. Everything move they make is based on being paid with tax dollars.

Liberalism, big government, teaching perfect match.

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BornAgainAmerican 2 years, 1 month ago

My wife is a retired teacher, and I just asked her if she knew any conservative teachers where she taught scholl. She replied that she couldn't think of any. I then asked if she knew any liberal teachers and she immediately said that she did. Are liberals more open than conservatives about their political persuasion or do conservative teachers keep their policial belifs to themselves for a reason?

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Nikki May 2 years, 1 month ago

I have two children in the Lawrence Public School system. The oldest one is in middle school now, so that's as far as my personal experience goes. I know which church a few of the teachers go to. I know some political leanings of some of the teachers. However, I haven't really had an issue either way. Recently, I've heard that the middle schoolers are required to do the pledge of allegiance, with one teacher very adamant that they will do it. Another teacher at that school chooses many Christian songs for the class to sing. That same teacher made a big deal at the winter concert to say, "Merry Christmas - If I can even say that any more." AFTER singing 80% Christmas (mostly religious) music. The music choice really didn't bother me, because they weren't discussing the MEANING of the songs. They were just singing pretty songs. I believe that the teacher chose them for both reasons, but the same teacher lets them sing pop songs as well (which I actually find worse!)

Anyway, I'm willing to bet it's not as bad as the author implies. It probably is more of a current event type thing. If you send your kids into public they WILL hear things you don't like, no matter what. That is exactly why you must teach them HOW to think (and in some people's case WHAT to think) at HOME.

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Elaine Elliott 2 years, 1 month ago

My nephew's teacher told him God makes the clouds and makes it rain. That was at an elementary school here in Lawrence. We explained to him that some people believe that but then explained the water cycle to him. Sounds pretty atheistic and liberal, evil USD 497.

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acg 2 years, 1 month ago

Good, maybe your daughter will learn something. Something besides how to blindly follow something without question. Kind of like one is supposed to do with their religion or their political party. Stop being sheep!

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mdab1609 2 years, 1 month ago

(I think) This question is asking what is USD 497's policy on teachers TELLING students what to believe and what not to believe. This question is not asking if teachers are allowed to discuss beliefs, teach beliefs, or share their own personal beliefs. This is not a demand that all the teachers in USD 497 be Republican and Catholic. If a teacher told their class that all Democrats lie or that all Atheists are misguided, then I would disagree with that teacher's attempts at indoctrination.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month ago

Well teachers do teach kids to be nice to each other and share and help each other out. They teach about the history of our country that evolved to include rights for all people, not just white, property owing males. They also teach them to ask questions and wonder about the world, instead of following a lock step agenda. I guess that's pretty liberal.

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overthemoon 2 years, 1 month ago

I suspect that the school is engaged in teaching about reality. That's a mighty liberal area according to people hanging off the right wing cliff.

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xyz 2 years, 1 month ago

Right on! Keep up the good work with your kids!!

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irvan moore 2 years, 1 month ago

brainwashing children is a parents right, how dare the schools interfere and give a kid another point of view

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nomorebobsplease 2 years, 1 month ago

I have 2 kids at LHS right now. I am one of those parents who goes to PT conferences and to events that my children are associated with, and I've met a few teachers whom I would consider conservative, perhaps even radically so. I have heard from my kids about some of the more conservative leanings of a couple of the teachers, but that's OK. It was a conversation starter for the two of us. I WANT my kids to learn to think for themselves. I want them to be able to engage in philosophical debate and to be able to figure out where they stand on issues, even if their viewpoints are different than mine. You know, to actually USE the brain that GOD gave them.

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Steve Swaggerty 2 years, 1 month ago

Another INANE, IDIOTIC, "WHO CARES" question!! Come on LJ cant you do any better than this? If not why bother? Quit wasting tje time and space in the paper!!

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Lane Signal 2 years, 1 month ago

In our current society, the line between fact and opinion does not really exist anymore. People spout distorted political rhetoric as fact. They repeat political talking points as fact because they saw it on the "news". Many also will reject an obvious and well supported fact as propaganda if it does not fit well with their political convictions. I imagine many teachers have fallen into this trap as well. (I don't claim to be immune from this phenomenon either.) But even if a teacher is able to approach politics objectively, I don't think it will be seen that way. I think most students who think they are politically aware are just choosing which talking points to believe in. In a state where teachers are often required to teach fiction as fact for political reasons (e.g. creationism must be taught as Science), it does not seem like teachers can win on this issue not matter what they do.

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Gedanken 2 years, 1 month ago

Contact the teacher first. Get their side of the story. It is rarely so cut and dry when it comes to what people say and what young minds perceive. If you aren't happy with that response, then go to the principal of the school. If you don't do this - then you won't be taken seriously because you didn't follow generally accepted protocol for handling class room issues.

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lunacydetector 2 years, 1 month ago

perhaps the school district needs to give teachers a mandatory refresher course on school policies. frankly i am surprised this is still going on, unchecked for decades.

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lunacydetector 2 years, 1 month ago

this has been going on for decades in the lawrence schools.....i recall one of my kids having to bite their lip, because, as the teacher put it in so many words, 'if you don't believe what i believe (liberal thinking) by the end of the semester, you'll fail my class.' this was in the 1980's.

she too, was an anti-christian/catholic bigot

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Bob Forer 2 years, 1 month ago

I am getting sick and tired of allegations of Christian bashing, Catholic bashing and conservative bashing, etc. We live in conservative times. The religious right never had it better. Witness how well Santorum is doing. Allegations of that type, as well as the claims of forced liberal indoctrination at State Universities, is the creation of the intellectually dishonest right wing pundits, and their buddies at Faux News.

Give it a rest, will ya. It's old hat, and it's nonsense.

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rooster 2 years, 1 month ago

"Conservative Republican Teacher" Since when do Republicans or even Conservatives give a rats tail about education?

There are NO policies being offered by Republicans that demonstrate that they care even remotely about education.

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Aiko 2 years, 1 month ago

I grew up in Texas and in 2nd grade we were all giving assignments to color a page that read "Viva La Raza" to take home. When I took these home my parents were not too happy.

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Kirk Larson 2 years, 1 month ago

Well, reality does have a Liberal bias...

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Scut Farkus 2 years, 1 month ago

I went to a Catholic High School so I can't relate although we did bash the Protestants quite a bit. I'm also a bit surprised that everyone believes Catholics are conservative Republicans. Have we forgotten about JFK? My guess is that because Santorum is such a lunatic, that it's reflecting badly on all Catholics.

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autie 2 years, 1 month ago

I guess it would be about impossible to not let some of ones own personal beliefs slip in and affect their attitude when teaching. Which at all is not a bad thing. If all the conservative wingnuts think their kids are being indoctrinated to the liberal side of life in the school system I would say that speaks little of their parenting skills. Good lord would you not think the parent is more influential on a kids frame of reference and world view? I had some terrible conservative red neck teachers and I managed to grow up to be a perfectly well adjusted commie pinko socialist.

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SinoHawk 2 years, 1 month ago

It was sometimes bad at LHS for me, but overall not quite the horror story that some experience in some districts. Looking back, elementary school had a lot of the elements of indoctrination, but nothing overt enough for me to understand at the time. I 100% flat-out promise that me being a conservative cost me at least 1 A in High School, but it has probably made me a better person, as it motivated me to work harder.

Extremely liberal teacher != bad teacher (just like the opposite), but having an overwhelmingly liberal faculty overall takes its toll. One of my worst teachers was a closet-conservative, though.

A good principal and good administrators can help alleviate some of the problems of feeling ostracized.

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chocolateplease 2 years, 1 month ago

I don't expect my kid to live under a rock when they're at school; particularly by the time they are in highschool. Teachers are human beings with political and religious views, and for some of them to ocassionally reveal those views or even make comments is fine. The fact is that many classes will have discussions about current events (e.g. the debate on whether Catholic employers need to provide health insurance that includes coverage for contraception), and lots of kids will be sharing their views, with teachers sometimes showing theirs as well. Also, as a parent I would never assume that my kid was able to provide a 100% accurate picture of what was being represented in the classroom.

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Armored_One 2 years, 1 month ago

Unless your child is attending a religious school, exactly why should there be ANY religion in school?

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felixiscariot 2 years, 1 month ago

If your daughter is spouting off anti-republican/anti-catholic remarks lately there is a good chance that she's not listening to anyone but rather she has become an independent thinker capable of developing her own opinions of the world around her. You should be proud that she pays attention enough to even care rather than "inundate" herself with jersey shore and energy drinks. I'll tell you. Growing up in Lawrence she's probably going to have a liberal education (not the liberal education you're thinking of though.) She will also probably become liberal, and there is a slim chance she might trying smoking marijuana cigarettes at some point in her young-adult life. So just get over the fact you can't control what your children believe or do. In the words of Eric Cartman: "you can't tell me what to do. I'm my own man. I do what I want."

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cowboy 2 years, 1 month ago

Sounds to me like the students are simply reading current events. The republicans are doing something completely moronic on a daily basis and the Catholics have lost touch with the modern world and their congregation.

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hujiko 2 years, 1 month ago

Turn the other cheek? What a wuss.

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Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 1 month ago

Contact the principal?

Pshaw! Everyone knows the solution is to call into the local paper. And if you don't have time for that, then post your complaint anonymously on that paper's website.

But actually contact the principal? What an outrageous suggestion.

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kernal 2 years, 1 month ago

I have to laugh because when I was in elementary school, a teacher had the class join the John Birch Society. I come from a very conservative background, but what I observed and experienced as I grew up converted me to a liberal. Conversely, I have friends raised by liberal parents, who are conservatives

Careful what you wish for!

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JackMcKee 2 years, 1 month ago

maybe part of the problem is Brownback IS trying to destroy our public schools.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 1 month ago

Translation-- I don't think my kid is getting enough pro-Republican and pro-Catholic propaganda at school.

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scott3460 2 years, 1 month ago

Perhaps a field of right wing loons as the republican party's Presidential candidates has something to do with the discussion that is going on. How sad that the daughter is apparently such a fully indoctrinated ditto head.

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Lee Eldridge 2 years, 1 month ago

It isn't rampant, but it happens. I remember my oldest daughter being told by a teacher that if Dole was elected president over Clinton (this was obviously '96) that he'd take away all the funding for the schools. That was the most outrageous thing that's happened. Most of it is much more subtle than this. What you need to do is teach your children early critical thinking, and to not inherently believe everything they're told.

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lawrenceguy40 2 years, 1 month ago

USD 497 exists solely to indoctrinate our children in the liberal philosophy.

If your child comes home stating that s/he never needs to work again and that barry o will pay his gas bills, you know where he got it. Most teachers are bums whose only real occupation is whining and teaching YOUR kids to be bums like them.

253

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Benjamin Roberts 2 years, 1 month ago

"Boyle asked anyone with concerns about whether employees are adhering to policies to contact their child’s principal."

Any student following Ms. Boyle's advice had best have several other students that can verify the concern. Several sets of good class notes would be in order.

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