A School Board's Control Over Teacher's Book Selections

1073 words - 4 pages

The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple are three novels that are considered classics, and in some school districts these books and others could also be considered inappropriate. Within these school districts not only are the books regulated but also the teachers’ choices of such books. This regulation of teachers has been established throughout the years through court cases and within multiple school districts. Teachers’ book choices and lesson plans are regulated in result of representation of the government, allowing students a neutral learning environment and following the curriculum established within the school district.
One of the main court cases that have dealt with teachers’ first amendment rights is the case of Evans-Marshall v. Board of Education of Tipp City Exempted Village School District. This case first began in Ohio, when English teacher Shelley Evans-Marshall asked her class to select a book off of the list “One Hundred Most Frequently Challenged Books”(Lampe, 2010). The students were then asked to debate in class why they believed that the book had been challenged by other school districts. After this assignment was given, several parents “complained about the curricular choices”(Lampe, 2010: pg.1). Eventually a petition was signed by over 500 parents of the school, saying they wanted “decency and excellence” in the classroom. With this, the school board unanimously voted to terminate Evans-Marshall’s contract. Evans-Marshall filed against the school board saying that they interfered with her First Amendment rights (Lampe, 2010: Pg.1).
In this case, the Sixth Circuit court of Ohio sided with the school board of Tipp City Exempted Village School District. This decision was made because the court determined that the community must have “a say over their children’s education by giving them control over membership on the board”(Lampe, 2010: Pg. 2) and the books that are included in the curriculum of their children’s school. Thus, one of the main ways a parent has control over their child’s education is through whom they elect to their local school board.
The court also stated that if the school hires a teacher, the employer gains the right to regulate the content of what the teacher says within the classroom or school day (Lampe, 2010: Pg.2). It is stated by the court that teachers still maintain their First Amendment rights. However, those rights “do not extend to in-class curricular speech of primary and secondary school teachers made pursuant to their officials duties”(High school teacher does not… 2010:Pg.1) within the school. Teachers are still given their First Amendment rights, but they cannot let those rights conflict with the education of their students or the curriculum of their school.
Secondly, teacher’s First Amendment rights must be regulated during school hours so that students are able to learn in a neutral environment. The court has said that allowing teachers to have...

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