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AAE's Tracey Bailey on Teacher Activism Gone Too Far
posted by: Colin | May 19, 2010, 04:24 PM   

AAE’s Director of Education Policy and 1993 National Teacher of the Year Tracey Bailey was interviewed in a story about teacher activism for

The article reports on the activism of an Oregon schoolteacher who is in trouble for creating an anti-Tea Party Movement website. Jason Levin is on paid administrative leave while the school district investigates whether or not he used work time or resources to create the website, which encouraged liberals to crash Tea Party protests and to collect social security numbers and other personal information of Tea Party supporters. The school has been inundated with angry letters from parents.

"It's not a prank when a teacher does it," said Tracey Bailey, education policy director at the Association of American Educators, which provides a teachers' code of ethics.

Bailey said that teachers get extensive training on the ethics of expressing their political views. They can attend political rallies and take part in the political system, but Bailey said Levin's actions show poor judgment.

Levin had suggested that tea party crashers gather personal information from the activists, and in doing so may have suggested identity fraud and illegal behavior.

"If a teacher lets their behavior go too far, even if that behavior is after school hours, they run a very significant risk of losing their job," he said.

The article’s author, Ambreen Ali, graciously linked to the AAE Code of Ethics for Educators. If you haven’t already, read this very unique document for yourself and print out a copy for a fellow educator.

At what point does teacher activism cross a line?
Are teachers held to a different standard? Should they be?

Comment below.

Comments (3)Add Comment
Disagree with sceptical
written by bwoods in CA, May 30, 2010

First of all, the article said "angry letters from parents," not phone calls. How quick you are to blame Sean Hannity and Tea Partiers. Letters by parents are easily validated as legit vs. phone calls.

Second, you think it is not illegal to suggest obtaining SS numbers and using them for detriment? Whether it is illegal or not, that is not the point. To suggest doing so to me is highly unethical. Do you want him to have your SS#?

The main point of this is 1) did he use worktime or resourcesto create this website. That seems to be the focus of the district's investigation. It does not seem to be a "retaliatory" action, but a legitimate action of any employer of its employees.

I agree--teachers should be held to a higher standard both during working hours and outside of working hours.
written by Jack Brown, May 25, 2010

In my mind - "ethics" separates activist from cultist.
Real thinking is independent of any single side of an issue, and includes many points of view.
Too few ever ask "why" - only choose a side and defend/advocate.
written by sceptical in california, May 24, 2010

First fo all, 99% of the angry calls to the school board were generated by Sean Hannity and tea party web sites. These were NOT parental protests-- they were attempts to punish him for his speech.

And there is absolutely nothing illegal about this teacher throwing out the idea of causing mayhem with SS numbers-- whatever that means. If he organized an actual attempt to do so, or did it himself, maybe. But that's not what happened. Speech isn't culpable unless it causes danger. This reminds me of teachers who were punished years ago for advocating draft resistance.

The real problem here is that the school district is retaliating against him because of his speech. Why no mention of that possibility? Why is the onus on the teacher in this article?

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