OpinionPolitics

Free Speech Is Officially Dead In Public Schools

If you ever needed an example of how current racial philosophy is influencing our young people, one need only look at the situation at Dougherty High School in San Ramon, California, outside of San Francisco.

Student journalists arranged to interview teacher Roger Barnholdt about his experience as an Olympic Games historian.

Barnholdt, a former substitute teacher, was hired this year to teach world geography and economics.

Two students for the school newspaper – the Wildcat Tribune – junior Emily Wong and senior Luna Ashebir arranged to speak with the teacher and, in the course of the interview, became concerned about some of the things he said.

When they wrote their report and posted it on the school website, all you-know-what erupted. The instant result was that the teacher was removed from the classroom and is no longer teaching in that school or any of the other schools in the district. This was confirmed by Ilana Israel Samuels, director of communication for the San Ramon Valley United School District.

Evan Powell, principal of the school, sent out an email to staff saying the teacher was removed after he expressed “disturbing and distressing” perspectives on race. He added that the comments were discriminatory against black and Latino students.

So, what on earth did Barnholdt say?

The reporters said that as they spoke with the teacher, Barnholdt began to recount his time teaching at San Lorenzo High School in Alameda County.

He said that he believed Latino and black students “don’t appreciate education as much as other groups,” adding that his comments were meant to be taken “in general, not trying to be prejudiced.”

He also told the reporters that he didn’t feel welcome in San Lorenzo because of his race; he is white. He said many of the students would say openly that they didn’t like white people and since he is white, he felt the effect of their prejudice.

The two reporters said they were shocked by his statements and wrote their story for the newspaper quoting him. The title of the piece mentioned that the teacher expressed controversial views regarding certain racial groups of students.

No sooner was it posted than the principal sent an email to all, disavowing the teachers’ statements and praising the students’ work.

Of course, what also happened is that Mr. Barnholdt was removed from his teaching position and apparently, from any future prospects in the district.

When news of the incident became public, the local newspaper, the East Bay Times, tried to contact Barnholdt for a comment, but it’s reported he did not respond.

The principal praised the students for “sharing the truth of this story with their peers and the community.” He added that what the teacher said were “values and opinions inconsistent with the values we teach and promote among our students, and detrimental to the community of learning we work to create where every student is valued, supported and empowered to reach their full potential.”

Excuse me while I gag from this blather!

The student reporters said they felt validated by their editor and the administration encouraging them to “exercise their First Amendment Rights.”

It’s too bad no one taught them that those rights include the responsibility NOT to read their own biases into the comments of their interview subject.

Ashebir said, “Our intention is, as journalists, always to just let people know what’s happening.”

I would raise the question – just what was happening? The teacher simply related his own experience at another school. He did not indicate it affected his teaching, nor were there any problems with him at that school or complaints against him.

What those two students did was destroy the career of a man who felt he had the right, as an American citizen, to speak of his own experiences when being interviewed by two student reporters.

The reporters betrayed him by using his recollections to illustrate what they perceived as racial prejudice, which they focused on and used in their headline.

They should be ashamed, but unfortunately, being praised by the school, they will continue to do the same thing if such a situation ever arises again.

So much for freedom of speech.

Follow Barbara Simpson on Facebook.


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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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