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Issues of Free Speech Arise After Teacher Criticizes Bush

It was the day after President Bush's State of the Union address, and social studies teacher Jay Bennish was warning his world geography class not to be taken in. "Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say-'We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward and our job is to conquer the world," Bennish told students.
It was the day after President Bush's State of the Union address, and social studies teacher Jay Bennish was warning his world geography class not to be taken in. "Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say-'We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward and our job is to conquer the world,'" Bennish told students.

The teacher quickly made clear that he wasn't equating Bush with Hitler, but the damage was done. After the lecture was recorded by a student and given to a local conservative talk radio show, Bennish was placed on paid leave by the Cherry Creek School District, sparking an uproar over issues of free speech and teacher conduct.

Reed Dickson, director of a program at Columbia's Teachers College that places Peace Corps volunteers in urban classrooms, said he thought teachers should express their personal political opinions in class and feared that cases such as Bennish's could intimidate some from questioning the government. But, Dickson added, teachers must exercise restraint so they don't impose their views on students. "Once the teacher takes on the role of indoctrinating, the educational process is not possible," he said.

This article, written by Nicholas Riccardi, appeared in the March 4th, 2006 publication of the Los Angeles Times.

Published Sunday, Mar. 5, 2006

Issues of Free Speech Arise After Teacher Criticizes Bush

It was the day after President Bush's State of the Union address, and social studies teacher Jay Bennish was warning his world geography class not to be taken in. "Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say-'We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward and our job is to conquer the world,'" Bennish told students.

The teacher quickly made clear that he wasn't equating Bush with Hitler, but the damage was done. After the lecture was recorded by a student and given to a local conservative talk radio show, Bennish was placed on paid leave by the Cherry Creek School District, sparking an uproar over issues of free speech and teacher conduct.

Reed Dickson, director of a program at Columbia's Teachers College that places Peace Corps volunteers in urban classrooms, said he thought teachers should express their personal political opinions in class and feared that cases such as Bennish's could intimidate some from questioning the government. But, Dickson added, teachers must exercise restraint so they don't impose their views on students. "Once the teacher takes on the role of indoctrinating, the educational process is not possible," he said.

This article, written by Nicholas Riccardi, appeared in the March 4th, 2006 publication of the Los Angeles Times.
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