From Tri-City Herald: A Kennewick middle school teacher landed in hot water when she pulled aside a student wearing a “Build the Wall” shirt. The language arts teacher at Chinook Middle School compared the shirt’s message with wearing a swastika.
Now, the young teen’s mother is hoping her son’s experience shines a light on political bullying. “It does happen,” said Michelle Fischer. “I think (politics) should be taught in our schools, but only in a two-sided positive way.”
Fischer posted her outrage over the teacher’s handling of the issue on Facebook and the story went viral. Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity shared her story to his 2.8 million followers, contributing to more than 100 comments on Fischer’s original post.
Fischer said she hoped her seventh-grade son’s experience makes it easier for other children to talk about feeling bullied for their political views.
Her son Jack told her that the teacher had appeared opposed to Donald Trump since the beginning of the school year, including the way she’d handled discussions of the presidential election and candidates in class.
Jack had worn other pro-Trump shirts to school but it wasn’t until he wore the “Build the Wall” shirt on Inauguration Day that the teacher pulled him aside. “She asked, ‘How would you feel if someone wore a T-shirt with a swastika on it?’ ” Fischer told the Tri-City Herald. “He said, ‘You can’t compare my shirt to wearing a swastika. They aren’t the same thing.’ ”
Fischer said the teacher asked Jack to stay in her class during lunch to talk about the shirt. Kennewick School District officials said the boy wasn’t forced to stay in the classroom during lunch as some social media reports said.
During the lunchtime conversation, the teacher reportedly told Jack it wasn’t appropriate to wear clothing with a political message. Jack noted that he’d seen a math teacher wearing a shirt with Barack Obama on it.
After school, when Jack shared what happened with his mother, she was upset and posted her concerns on Facebook with a picture of her him wearing the shirt along with a message that his teacher “compared my shirt to wearing a swastika.”
Later, Fischer spoke with Chinook’s Principal Kevin Pierce, and was told there wasn’t anything wrong with the shirt.
“My goal is not to get this teacher into trouble,” Fischer said. “I made it clear to him. She’s a nice person. I just haven’t agreed with the way she’s taught the class.”
On Friday, school district officials said in a statement that Pierce investigated the incident and took appropriate action. Details were not released because it’s a personnel issue.
The district said students expressing themselves is an important part of education in a democratic society. District policy allows them to express their opinions as long as it doesn’t disrupt the education of others.
“I think most parents would agree with me,” Fischer said. “If this was the other way around, I guarantee there would be some parents that were pretty upset.”