@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Senate bill would limit teachers' political activity

Posted April 22, 2015

— School employees would be prohibited from campaigning for a political candidate during school hours or using school computers or telephones to campaign under a bill passed Wednesday by the Senate Education Committee.

Sponsor Sen. Andy Wells, R-Catawba, said Senate Bill 480 simply applies the same rules now in effect for state employees to all public school employees statewide.

"North Carolina now has one set of laws for state employees around political activities and 115 sets of policy rules for school board employees," Wells said. "This replaces that disparity with one uniform law for everyone. Everybody's treated the same."

Violations could result in disciplinary action by a school district, including termination for "deliberate or repeated" offenses.

Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, called one section of the law "quite murky," because it bars the use of a person's position to support or oppose a candidate without placing any limits on that prohibition. She asked if that would prevent a teacher from appearing in a campaign ad.

Legislative staff said teachers would be prevented from telling students to urge their parents to vote for or against someone, but a teacher's right to campaign on their own time wouldn't be affected.

Sen. Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, said teacher participation in school PTAs, which often take positions on candidates and policy issues, could be affected. Legislative staff plan to review that issue for a possible amendment before the bill is heard in the Senate Judiciary I Committee.

Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, asked whether school employees could still lobby for support of a school construction bond. Wells said school superintendents and principals are exempted from the political restrictions and could advocate on such issues.

Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said there should be no carve-out for superintendents and principals, saying the sway they hold in local school systems should make them the primary targets of campaign prohibitions.

Legislative staff said the exemption applies only to lobbying for or against policy issues, not partisan campaigns.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, a former school administrator, added that most superintendents and principals could be considered to be on the job 24 hours a day, so restricting their ability to engage in political activity all the time would infringe on their First Amendment rights.

23 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Terry Watts Apr 23, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    You misunderstood me. Introducing a blanket ban to eliminate loop-holes, then introducing loop-holes in spite of the ban, are opposing ideas. I don't necessarily disagree with the rest of your statement, but that statement alone doesn't necessarily support a blanket ban.

  • Abrams Gunner Apr 23, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread



    "You two thoughts are diametrically opposed."
    No they are not. Teaching the basics of politics and the framework of the political system is a whole lot different than actively steering students to sway for a particular political party. When you steer students in a specific direction based on your own political beliefs you fail to teach them objectively.
    "how does a teacher address things like CRA or VRA w/o having an politically activist mindset?"
    By teaching students what led up to it, why they were created and what they achieved. This can be done without being an activist.

  • Terry Watts Apr 23, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    I'm not sure I follow your train of thought... You want a blanket system b/c of your perception that it eliminates loop-holes, then you immediately state that you want a loophole for teaching politics. You two thoughts are diametrically opposed. Either you create a blanket policy that eliminates all discussion (ie loopholes) or you judge each issue on its own merits, ie you allow teachers to teach Civics and combat Activism when its inappropriate (though I think there is a place for teaching activism that too).

    Another question, how does a teacher address things like CRA or VRA w/o having an politically activist mindset??? How do they teach kids to *think* if they are only presented with facts, and not the know-how to use them...

  • Terry Watts Apr 23, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    "Communism"... You guys are hilarious...

  • Abrams Gunner Apr 23, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread



    I agree that blanket rules tend to over-generalize however they also eliminate the loop holes. The problem isn't politics in the classroom. Students need to learn about the political system and how it works. The problem is political activism in the classroom. Using your position of authority to sway students on one direction is not teaching, it's steering and therefore should not be allowed.

  • Abrams Gunner Apr 23, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    Depends if it was his personal car or his state issued car. If it is his personal car then it is absolutely a first amendment violation.

  • Matt Price Apr 22, 2015
    user avatar

    Of course every liberal here will make a point that "Ut Oh, can't talk civics and politics - that's a no no."

    Well, when you are talking about what the teachers are supposed to do, and that is teach the facts in an objectionable way, rather than the liberal social justice (read communism) to the students, I support this bill.

    This bill does not squash the freedom of speech one has off the job. It does squash the liberal trash strewn all over causing the kids and parents to take offense.

    But then again, they can't be offended because only the liberal mindset matters. No matter what.

    On the flip side, a teacher surely can teach civics and not politics.

  • Terry Watts Apr 22, 2015
    user avatar

    Can a HS Civics teacher talk about upcoming elections and/or issues in his class??? Look up candidate's campaign material on-line for in-class discussions??? Blanket rules tend to over-generalize. IMO, each case should be judged on its own merits, and appropriate action taken thusly.

  • Joseph Shepard Apr 22, 2015
    user avatar

    As a retired teacher, I can see the value of this..Using school computer and telephone equipment should be banned for political purposes---teachers have no business engaging in political activity on school time. What they do after hours away from the school--and kids--is perfectly within their legal right. As for teachers attempting to influence their students, or the students parents as who to vote for or against is just plain wrong. Explain---objectively--the political issues and personalities involved, yes.
    Try to tell the students or their parents who to vote for---should never happen in a classroom. If it does, that teacher does not belong in a classroom...

  • Thomas Morris Apr 22, 2015
    user avatar

    I'm a teacher...I would be willing to bet that there are about the same number of actual cases of teachers in NC who actively campaigned during their work hours as there were actual cases of voter fraud that led to the GOP backed changes in voting laws.....no where near enough to evenly remotely affect the outcome. Suspicious? Oh, yes.......

More...