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Why Teachers like Jay Bennish are not Good for Your Kids

Zoë Cole

With all of the new technology that makes this world a global village we are able to find out information very quickly by just turning on the TV or looking on the internet. This has given us the ability to know what is going on in politics. Having different beliefs in who is the right person or party to lead us is one of the great freedoms of the United States of America.

Needless to say, there is a lot of debating among the different parties to prove that they are right. The debaters believe that their party has the right answers and that the others do not. They try to convert those that are not sure what party they are in that their party is the right one.

People are making these decisions faster than before because technology gives us news within seconds. They are getting information, mostly with spins on it, at a rapid pace. They then go out and passionately debate what they believe is right using their information as proof.

Recent debates over whether teachers should be allowed to speak on behalf of their party's beliefs have become a hot issue. Are they protected by the first amendment when teaching a class or does this protection not exist when they are being paid to teach the youth of America? One of the landmark recent cases resulted after conservative radio and talk show hosts released a 20-minute rant of a teacher's far left views.

On February 1st at Aurora Colorado's Overland High School twenty-eight year old high school geography teacher, Jay Bennish, said, talking about Bush, "Sounds a lot like the things that Adolph Hitler used to say." He also said this about the American intelligence world "Sometimes you do want to kill people just for the sake of killing them" and "Bill Clinton when he launched the missile attacks into Afghanistan and Sudan and killed thousands of innocent Africans and Afghanistan people" (Jay Bennish) Sixteen-year-old sophomore, Sean Allen recorded the teacher's rants with his MP3 player, which he often did to help him with his notes.

When Sean Allen's father listened to the teacher's passionate rants he became upset and took up a complaint with the school. A month later they released the tape to the media for the whole world to listen to. Bennish was suspended with pay until things were looked at. The school, not sure of what to do about having a ACLU lawyer down their backs, allowed him to return to the class to continue teaching with nothing more than a slap on the wrist and a warning not to do it again. Allen, however, has changed school since he released his teacher's speech to the public.

So should a teacher like Jay Bennish be teaching their personal views on politics? No, they should not be doing so at all! In fact, we should not even know what the teacher's points of views are. I will use the Bennish/Allen controversy to prove to you why not.

The Denver Post quoted author on academic issues, James McGrath Morris, who told the Denver Post that the US courts ruled that until the age of 18 years, children can be influenced easily, and that they cannot sort out what is right and wrong. This means that when Bennish got up and gave his speech on how America is evil and bad he is leaving an impact on these young high school scholars. If he was giving both sides of an argument, then the students would be able to evaluate both sides and choose what is right and what is wrong for them. Instead, he is telling them only what he believes.

I, myself, ran into this a lot my sophomore year when I was 16-17 years old. My classmates were 14 to 16 year old freshmen for the most part, including my little sister. The in class support teacher would argue with me, and me alone, about politics. I would argue my far right views while she, and she alone, would argue her far left views. I would go home and wonder if what I believed and what my family believed in was right, because my teacher was able to beat me in the debates. She had a lot more education than I had; she was older and had at least a 4-year college degree. I did not agree with her point of view. However, I was older than my classmates, and would soon be old enough to vote. They would side with my teacher, even my little sister who grew up with the independent, but leaning to the right side family. One of the major concerns when picking a party is which party agrees with most of your views and morals. Therefore, when a teacher is teaching politics, they are also teaching morals. Who should be teaching morals to children, the teachers or their family?

Bennish not only had rants, but they also had false information in them. "Bill Clinton when he launched the missile attacks into Afghanistan and Sudan and killed thousands of innocent Africans and Afghanistan people- Afghanis- that had nothing to do with al Qaeda or anything. In fact in Sudan, he blew up the country's largest pharmaceutical plant, which was producing medicines" (Jay Bennish). Bennish was talking about the August 10, 1998 bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Khartom, Sudan. He is right on track about us bombing them, but far off from how many were killed and injured. In reality, the missiles only killed one person and injured ten (Al-Shifa). When I attempted to do the math, I could not understand how Bennish got his number of thousands. I was bewildered because a five year old can count up to ten. If that is not a spin to make the United States look evil and give Bennish the chance to "prove" his point, I don't know what is.

It is dumbfounding that they allow a teacher that we pay for with our tax money to teach our youth wrong facts. It is not like he had it slightly off, but it is absurdly off. If he was not being biased and trying to teach his own agenda how could he come up with those numbers? You might argue that Bennish only spoke like this some time, but Allen claimed that his teacher taught geography only 20% of the time. So where did the other 80% of the class go? To Bennish's one sided, political agendas, Allen has informed the radio talk hosts that he was not the only one to complain about Mr. Bennish. Other parents have told him that two months before he released the tape (one month before his rant on that is in question) they called the school complaining about the teacher. Allen did the right thing by informing the public about the teacher, because the school would not even look into it until then (Fox News).

You could also hear Allen try to argue with his teacher, just as I had done when I was younger and just like me he lost. The reason why is simple. These teachers are going up against young high scholars that barely pay attention to the news and are only learning to understand and put huge pieces of facts together. The students do not have the years of history, psychology, and passion for polities as a teacher does. This gives the students a huge disadvantage, leading them to lose quickly. If a teacher wants to spark controversy and debate, he or she should have the students' debate among each other. This is a fair way to get the students to think and see what they believe is right and wrong. It is not easy to go up against an adult that is at least twelve years older than you who has a full education and is passionate and forceful in their debate agents them takes guts, and secretly in their beliefs, which Allen had both. For one of these kids to win against someone that much older and more education with that much passion they would have to be a prodigy.

Bennish has claimed that he has had told both sides of the agenda in his class. If this is so, then why are none of the students able to tell us how? This might mean a few things; perhaps he did give other sides but did it so quirkily and without the same passion. Is that really balanced though? No, if it were, he would have gone on a 20-minute rant with as much passion on the other sides' point. However, it is more likely that the kids did not wish to see their teacher under fire. This is likely because even Allen did not wish to see his teacher fired, just get him to stop giving one side of the agenda.

Teachers, like Jay Bennish, who we pay with our high taxes, have not been doing their jobs. Instead they have been trying to teach their political views, which are based on morals. Morals are the families' job to teach, not a teachers. Instead of getting the students the education they should be receiving they are coming away with a one-side political view. It is no wonder why all of the new scientific breakthroughs are happening in other countries. Instead we will get a group of people that were shaped by teacher after teacher that have the same views to be a certain party. The result will be a one sided political party that cannot think for themselves. This is not what America is about; we are about multiple parties with political differences so that everyone is represented.

--Zoë Cole--

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