Politics in the Classroom


A quote from Dr. Seuss' Yertle the Turtle was considered too political for one B.C. school district and there's now a court case. But those seeking guidance may have found it in a separate ruling this week as the B.C. Appeal court ruled teachers can use buttons and posters in schools and advocate political ideas. Today, we're asking about politics in the classroom and the line between free expression and pushing a cause.

Panel: Susan Lambert / Alan Chell / Annie Kidder

Teachers are paid to shape young minds. But in British Columbia, they've been accused of indoctrination. Shelley Balfour is a BC teacher and president of the Cranbrook District Teachers' Association. After she was told to get rid of a button protesting education cuts in 2008, her union took her case to court.

This week, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled teachers may wear buttons or put up posters advocating reforms to education. The court said teachers have a right to free expression and this did no harm to students.

But the controversy is hardly over. Callers to a Vancouver radio station were passionate in their opinions. We aired some of those calls.

The BC Teachers' Federation fought for the right for their teachers to advocate on hot-button issues. Its president Susan Lambert joined us to tell us why she believes activism and education should mix. She was in Port Coquitlam.

Alan Chell is chair of the British Columbia Public School Employers' Association. He was in Revelstoke, B.C.

And Annie Kidder is the executive director of People for Education, an education advocacy group in Ontario. She was in our Toronto studio.


This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley, Vanessa Greco and Melissa Shaw.

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Other segments from today's show:

The Politics of Virus Hunting

Checking-In: Listener Response

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