Photo Credit: Rutherford County Students First / Facebook – Background / Public Domain
Published August 25, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Earlier this week, a Rutherford County parent reported that a sign was displayed in a classroom of Smyrna Middle School that outlined many left-leaning agendas.
The concerned parent reached out to the respective Rutherford County School board member with the information and yesterday, August 24th, the Tennessee Conservative reached out to the Principal of Smyrna Middle School for comment.
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The school’s media contact replied:
“The principal addressed this poster with the teacher yesterday (August 23rd) and explained classroom walls and bulletin boards are intended to be used for displaying materials related to the academic standards covered in the class. The teacher agreed to remove the poster immediately.”
Prior to the sign being taken down, Rutherford County Students First posted on social media that the sign could potentially be in violation of Rutherford County Schools policies as outlined below:
1. Rutherford County Board of Education Policy Manual addresses “Controversial Issues” in section 4.800.
– The policy says, “The discussion of issues in the classroom which are politically, philosophically or socially controversial shall be relevant to the subject matter being taught, related to educational objectives, appropriate for the age and maturity of students…”
– The policy focuses on framing controversial issues from both sides of an issue, but also says: “Teachers shall place major emphasis upon “why” and “how” to think rather than “what” to think.”
– Potential policy violation: This sign is a statement of advocacy, not neutrality.
– Potential policy violation: Was this sign part of classroom instruction? If so, was the other side of these statements discussed. Also, were both perspectives presented in a neutral way with knowledge as the focus, not advocacy?
Rutherford Students First states that, “if this sign was not part of neutral, two-sided discussion, it is pure advocacy and clear violation of the school policy.”
2. A 2nd potential RCS policy violation may have occurred if the sign was not part of a neutral and two-sided classroom discussion. – – There is a policy for “Political Activities” in section 5.606 of the manual, which says: “Employees may, on their own time, campaign for or against any candidate or referendum, but they shall not use the schools, the classroom or system position for political forum nor engage in any political promotion or solicitation during school hours.”
Rutherford Students First (RSF) states, “We can’t make this more clear. We do NOT want any politics or personal agendas in the classroom. Not “right.” Not “left.” Nothing.”
They go on to say, “Despite what the unions are telling their members, teachers should NOT be activists in the classrooms. This is not their job.”
“Regardless of how you feel about any of the slogans on this sign, it is not the place of teachers to advocate for these perspectives. If a teachers put a sign up opposing all of these viewpoints, we would condemn that sign as well. The problem isn’t the perspective. It’s the advocacy and insertion of personal politics and agenda into the classroom. This is unacceptable, no matter what the perspective,” RSF states.
About the Author:
Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com