Manitowoc teachers told not to give opinion on controversial issues

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Manitowoc, Wis. (WBAY) – A policy change in Manitowoc means teachers can no longer voice their opinion on controversial issues in the classroom.

This, after a unanimous vote of the school board recently which has also led to some debate on social media.

While students in Manitowoc will still engage in controversial discussions in the classroom, teachers will no longer be allowed to guide students to a particular viewpoint they support.

Manitowoc School Board member Tony Vlastelica said, “Teachers and staff can certainly have an opinion. I don’t think anyone here is saying you can’t have an opinion on these issues. I think it’s is the classroom time an appropriate time to share that. So I just wanted to make that distinction. I’ve seen some comments on social media, we’re not allowing teachers to have an opinion, that’s simply not true.”

Vlastelica made that remark during a discussion which took place during the August 24 school board meeting.

Controversial issues cover four categories, according to the district policy.

This includes politics, religion, social studies and economics.

“I think it’s great, because there’s no attempt here to suppress or mute anything. It’s just like, but things have a place,” said Kerry Trask, another school board member.

Much of this comes after parents spoke out before school boards across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, asking for more control over what is being taught in the classroom.

Vlastelica said in a follow-up interview, “Everyone I’ve talked to, once they understand it doesn’t limit the actual discussion of controversial issues, all it does is limits the teachers injecting personal opinions on it, everyone I’ve talked to once I understand that, seems to agree, yeah, that makes sense.”

We did reach out to the state teachers union but haven’t heard back.

The policy also requires teachers to notify the district administrator of any controversial issues to be discussed if they have not been specified in a course of study.

School leaders say controversial topics can still be discussed but without teachers’ personal opinions because they could influence students.

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