380 Teaching About Controversial Issues
Policy Number: 380
The Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District believes that an essential component of a strong educational program is the open exchange of ideas. Through the study of controversial issues imbedded in our curriculum - political, economic or social - students develop the critical thinking abilities needed for citizenship in our society. Controversial issues shall be handled as they arise in the classroom, and shall not be avoided in order to restrict or restrain the academic freedom of either the teacher or the student. This policy is designed to guide school staff in the handling of controversial issues and in the selection of teaching methodologies and materials.
In the teaching of controversial issues, the teacher:
In the study of controversial issues, the student has the right:
- should help students identify relevant information, learn the techniques of critical analysis, make independent judgments, and be prepared to present and support them.
- may not present his or her own personal position as the only acceptable position that may be taken on the particular issue; nor shall the teacher seek to bring about a single conclusion to which all students must subscribe.
- shall not suppress a student's view on that issue as long as the expression of that view is not derogatory, malicious or abusive toward other students' views.
- is responsible for selecting issues for study and discussion that contributed to the attainment of course objectives. A sincere effort should be made to select equally representative materials covering contrasting points of view.
- is expected to be objective in the presentations of controversial issues, and not use the classroom as a vantage point to persuade students to accept a particular point of view.
- shall present controversial issues with good judgment, keeping in mind the maturity and background of the students.
- must monitor the discussions of controversial issues so that students do not feel intimidated by others for their position on issues.
The school board believes it has the duty to provide open communications with the constituents of the school district. It also feels that many problems, conflicts and concerns can be resolved through a proper sequence of communication. Listed is a sequence of communications to help resolve any issues that may arise regarding the teaching of controversial issues:
- to study any controversial issue that has political, economic or social significance and is appropriate to the student's developmental level.
- to have access to information, including books and materials that circulate freely to study under competent instruction in an atmosphere free from bias and prejudice.
- Conference between student and teacher.
- Conference between parent (possibly student) and teacher.
- Conference between parent, and/or student, teacher and building administrator.
- Conference between parent and/or student with building administrator and District Administrator.
Policy Review Date