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    15 Year Old Wisconsin Conservative Meets Bullying From Teachers

    Originally posted March 28, 2013 -

    As a 15 year old, I never imagined my activism in politics would translate into controversy for me at school.

    My name is Benji Backer and I attend a public high school in Appleton, Wisconsin. I have always supported the public school system and plan to do so for the rest of my life. Many Americans who stand up for the public school system and the unions believe there is no attempt to sway opinion or that students with opposing beliefs are singled out. Unfortunately, experiences I have had with harassment and bullying prove that wrong. This is a timeline of the most extreme cases of harassment and indoctrination I have had in the three different public schools I have attended over the last three years. 

    I am currently in my freshman year of high school and the incidents are happening more frequently and I believe are more severe.  As you can imagine, the ongoing pressure and bullying has been disturbing to me, my friends and my family.

    Just before the 2010 Midterm election, I was on the front page of the local newspaper for my political volunteer work and my teachers noticed. One of my seven teachers made it very clear that she dissaproved of my civic engagement. In a period of two months, my Geography teacher frequently would take me aside after school for a few minutes and tell me how stupid, wrong and misguided I was for being Republican. The harassment with this specific teacher got so bad, I had to switch schools halfway through the year.  At this time I was only 12 years old. To my knowledge, this teacher was not disciplined at all for her actions. 

    Two months after I switched to my new school, Scott Walker passed the controversial Budget Repair Bill. Most of the teachers at my new school were more than upset. A couple of my teachers wore red every day while crying, protesting and providing a one-sided perspective on the reforms and making it clear to us just how bad they believed Scott Walker was. One teacher even said she wouldn’t be able to have another child because Scott Walker was cutting so much money from her pay.

    A few months later, I expected things to die down and be over with; it didn’t. Almost four months after Walker’s budget was passed, I walked into choir to find a substitute teacher showing us a 5 minute video about how great unions were and then she talked for an additional 10 minutes about how bad she believed Scott Walker to be.  At the end of the class, I stood up, defended the governor and told her how inappropriate her behavior was. I was told she didn’t do that to another class for the rest of the day.

    During my 8th grade year I received more attention for my political activity. I had become known in the community because of newspaper, radio and TV interviews and was aware that this would possibly make me a target. Not only was I a volunteer for Governor Walker, but I was a very vocal supporter of him as well. While there were some minor instances of teachers complaining about Walker and a few mentions of my media appearances and such, the rhetoric seemed to be dying down. 

    It was a short-lived reprieve.  Things have deteriorated again this year, my freshman year. I came into the year with the knowledge that some teachers would already view me negatively because of my political views and I was correct. 

    Right after Scott Walker won the recall election, I started helping out candidates for November. I was named Young Americans for Mitt Romney Co-Chair in Wisconsin and once again, my teachers took notice; my English teacher in particular.  In one of the first weeks of school, he had us write about an article we had read for homework. The article was about political campaigns “mining” into the personal lives of the American people. He asked, “other than Facebook and phone calls, how do campaigns mine into personal lives?” I raised my hand and replied: “well, you can check who signed the recall.” Immediately after, he said “I signed that!” That was the trigger to the last 40 minutes of class. He spent the remainder of that period lecturing us about how much he hated Scott Walker and explained all the reasons why. He said, “most small business owners and workers take off Fridays and summers”.  According to him, small business owners go golfing every Friday. He also said many businessmen work fewer hours than teachers. He explained how his pay was too low to support his family. He told the class his pay was so bad he had to paint houses in the summers. During this discussion, he was swearing and saying how wrong it was for anyone to support Walker. Students were telling him to stop, and he wouldn’t. 

    I decided I would not argue with him. Past experiences had shown me that arguing with someone like him would only make things worse and inflame the situation. Since no one was debating him, these students were being presented a very biased view and placed in a very uncomfortable situation. By the end of class, some students had a completely negative view of Scott Walker.

    A couple of days later, he took me into the hall and apologized. He said he had felt bad about it all weekend. He then gave me a book to read about Abraham Lincoln. He told me that “good politicians read a lot.” Then he said, “I don’t think Scott Walker likes to read.” The indoctrination and conversations with the class dropped off for a while after this incident, but in mid-October, it started up again. On a regular basis, he would talk about politics in front of the class or in private with me.

    The harassment got particularly bad one day in late October, about a week after I was featured in USA Today for my involvement in the upcoming November election.  Again, this video and article was sent throughout the school and was even played in several classes. The same English teacher who had lectured to almost 30 students about a month earlier took me aside during class again. He started talking about Mitt Romney and Scott Walker and his views on them. He reiterated how much harder he worked compared to my dad, a small business owner, which he had no knowledge of. He went on to ask how much my parents made because he wanted to compare it to his salary.

    Later, I looked up this teacher’s salary. He had been making over $100,000 with benefits for the 2010-11 school year, the same year Walker's reform bill passed.  For a few more days, he talked to me in class about his feelings about Walker and Romney. I decided to tell my parents about the two incidents. My parents thought it was very inappropriate and decided we needed to talk to the principal about it. The principal at my school was very upset with the situation. He was disappointed in my English teacher and he told me I needed to talk to my teacher one on one. After I talked to the teacher, my principal said he would meet up with him to follow up. When I went during my lunch hour to talk to my teacher, he apologized and took ownership for everything. Later during the apology, he started to talk about Walker again and how much he hated him. He just couldn’t stop. At the end of the conversation, my teacher asked “you know how you went down to the principal’s office?” I said yes, and he said “I don’t give a sh*t.” I asked why, and he went on to explain that he was friends with the principal so it didn’t matter to him and he wouldn’t get in trouble because of their friendship. 

    My principal called me into his office the day after to see how it went. I told him what my teacher did and said. He then told me if there were any more incidents with this teacher there would be serious consequences.  He also told me if there were any more incidents like this with other teachers, I was to report it right away. I felt as if it was being properly addressed and had hoped I had seen the end of it. Unfortunately, the relationship between the teacher and I turned out to be worse than before. Since I reported these incidents, he has stopped talking about politics in the classroom, but sadly, he has not treated me the same as he did before I reported him.

    In my Health class, also this year, our very first homework assignment included writing down four activities you do as a person currently and four things you want to do in the future. We were also assigned to present in front of the class. In one of my four boxes, I wrote down that I was a conservative speaker. When I presented in front of the class, he asked if I supported the Tea Party. I said yes. He rolled his eyes and told me believing in the organization was “weird." He also told me he knew nothing about the Tea Party. This teacher then told me to explain, in front of the class why I supported the Tea Party, so I did. When I left the class, I thought about what had happened. Why was I being called “weird?” Why was I being questioned so much? The simple truth reveals that some teachers want to obstruct and block my personal views from looking valid. If a teacher asked why someone was homosexual, Atheist or Muslim and called what they believed “weird”, there would be serious consequences. I decided not to report this to the principal because I realized it wouldn’t help. I had experienced the fallout from reporting prior instances and I didn't want a repeat situation.

    The latest incident involved another substitute teacher in my civics (government) class. Every day we watch a ten minute show called CNN Student News. The substitute asked us to recap the show and discuss it in class. The first part of the show had to do with gun control. Instead of having us discuss the topics as she said she would, she decided to share her views. She talked almost twenty minutes. In those twenty minutes, she said the recently released picture of Obama shooting a gun was forced out by the conservative and far-right members. She explained how she believed Obama’s birth certificate was forced out, therefore this was too. For about five minutes, she called all Republicans racist. According to her, she had never seen such discrimination against a president and President Obama has been the most ill-treated president in the history of the United States, all because the Republicans don't want a black man in the White House. 

    I believe that the majority of my teachers (and teachers in general) are professional and leave their personal political views out of the classroom. There are a few teachers that have been extremely inspirational to me. Unfortunately, most is not enough. Teachers that do bring a one-sided view of politics into the classroom are attempting to influence students’ opinions. They want to teach us what to think instead of how to think.

    The intimidation has not swayed me or made me cower from my beliefs, but I worry about the other students. I'm certain I am not the only one that has experienced this sort of intimidation.  My teachers have always talked about bullying, including bullying homosexuals and how wrong it is. I agree one hundred percent. They shouldn’t be bullied, nor should anyone else. But if homosexuals can get equal treatment, why can’t I?  Why can’t my conservative friends? If teachers want bullying to end with homosexuals, other races or religious beliefs, they should want it to end with every type of bullying possible, including political views. 

    One-sided political conversations are happening in the classroom with impressionable students at a young age. This has gone on for decades. The problem is, not enough students speak up and speak out about it. The more educated I become, the more I realize the indoctrination that happens is very subtle and may not be noticeable to most students. Slowly but surely, these views seep inside a student’s head.  Only a year and a half ago did I realize our country was a Republic, not a Democracy. Why is that?  I had been taught otherwise for years prior.

    Teachers presenting a one-sided political view are a problem and they need to be stopped. A school should be a place students can comfortably and safely express their beliefs, learn, grow and form their own opinions. If we want an educated Republic, we need to educate our students in a fair and balanced way.

    80 comments
    James Parker Jr
    03/30/2013

    Keep up the activism! Sounds like you have it going!

    Marian Dujsik
    03/30/2013

    That was a really inspirational blog. I'm happy to know that there are good conservative students in schools. Stand firm. You'll go far.

    Judy Bachman
    03/30/2013

    I'm sorry you are going through this..no beliefs should be forced apon another person. This is STILL America. This one teacher who makes 100k a year...that's not enough to live on and support a family? I'm an RN and I don't make half that a year. I am currently making 10-15k less a year since Obama was elected. I am working 2 jobs and struggling big time. Alot of people didn't like Bush, but I did and I supported him. (Even though this was not popular!) STAND STRONG BENJI!!! You have alot of people in this great country supporting you!

    Ken Rumbarger
    03/30/2013

    I supported Bush both times too, Judy, because I cannot let myself vote for a pro-abortion candidate. I no longer admire or support him as I once did. Indeed, somewhere along the line he morphed into a "RINO", (Republican In Name Only.) Socially and economically he was turning into a Democrat. His support of the National Do-Not-Call List with its extreme $5000 penalty for a single mistake was enormously harmful to small business. I used to say for a while that my four reasons for not regretting I voted for Bush were the two Democrats he kept out of the White House, (Gore and Kerry), and the two Supreme Court justices he appointed, (Alito and Roberts). Then Roberts supported Obamacare and knocked me down to three reasons, if not two.

    Jamie Pacheco
    03/30/2013

    This is very unfortunate. As a conservative teacher, I have kept my views out of the classroom because of what I went through in college, and I wouldn't want to be hypocritical, doing the very things I abhorred. However, it is a constant struggle because I know many of my liberal colleagues do not do the same. Do I present an opposing view and expose students to other viewpoints or maintain the proper course, which is neutrality in the classroom? I would never (and have never) treated a single student differently because of their opinions, but I would not want them to feel uncomfortable either by having them know that I have differing views than they do. It's certainly a dilemma, and it's getting harder and harder seeing the other side not adhere to the same moral code.

    Jamie Pacheco
    03/30/2013

    When I do get questions, I usually just tell my students to question everything and do their own research, which is much easier (though does also present more problems with misinformation) in this technological age. Few, if any, choose to do so, but it could just be the age.

    Ken Rumbarger
    03/30/2013

    I understand what you are saying. It is difficult to make any suggestions that are guaranteed to be practical because I am not a teacher. I am not without ideas, however.

    One of the fundamental skills that I believe young people should be taught - which I think they seldom are - is to be alert in their OWN thinking to distinguish fact from assumption. I worked for years as a computer programmer and learned that when I could not figure out what was causing a problem I should go back to the one thing that I was sure could not possibly be wrong. In programming and in most professions or occupations, unexamined assumptions cause a host of problems.

    I strongly suspect that teaching students to distinguish facts from assumptions or generalizations in their own thinking is the best way to get them to do so in what they are taught by others.

    You know better than I do as a practicing teacher that you won't get uniformly positive results. Fewer and fewer people these days really want to think. Too many prefer to "download" other peoples' ideas into their heads and let them "execute" unquestioned. This is obviously greatly to the benefit of the liberal indoctrinators and if you can introduce a glitch into that process at a basic level you may do a world of good.

    El.Infidel
    03/30/2013

    The solution is to cut property taxes in half and eliminate public indoctrination centers. Education is an individual responsibility, not a right. It will always be run by those who believe the government should confiscate the property of the productive and give it to the indolent.
    When you pay for something directly, competition forces a better product.

    Scott Anderson
    04/01/2013

    Westboro Baptist Church is run exclusively by registered Democrats.

    Black Knight
    03/31/2013

    We cannot sacrifice a generation of students by hoping for the miracle that public schools infested with indoctrinators will eliminate them, recognizing that evil morals cannot be reversed.

    The solution will require both school voucher programs to escape indoctrination and community-sponsored, grandparent-mentored "summer startup" programs to give students the entrepreneurial experience needed to reverse indoctrination's effects and create conservative champions.

    Ken Rumbarger
    03/30/2013

    Competition is not a cure-all in this situation. Without public education, the only children to receive even a potential boost out of ignorance would be those already growing up among literate people, or fortunate enough to attend a religious institution. If we simply "eliminate public indoctrination centers" then, at best, we throw education back in the hands of what may be little better than private indoctrination centers: Catholic schools teaching salvation by good works, or center-city mosques teaching a need for Sharia law, or extreme right-wing aberrations like the Westboro Baptist Church. Public education needs restraint of liberal indoctrinators, I agree. (If we will ever see it.) But complete abolition throws out not only the baby and the bath water, but the tub and the faucets and the plumbing as well.

    Zak Grant
    03/30/2013

    I'm also a freshman in high school. I live in NE Ohio and my teachers always talked badly about our governor and Mitt Romney. I loved to wear my Romney buttons just to see the look on their faces.

    Marian Dujsik
    03/30/2013

    I'm surprised the teachers didn't rip it off you!

    Won HungLo
    03/30/2013

    stand your ground Benji it is a difficult place to be but you are in the right. Shows how they should keep politics out of schools also.Teachers have way to much influence on our children.Sadly they need someone to put them in their place after all this is america sure does not seem like they are respecting his amendment rights what so ever

    Mike Foley
    03/29/2013

    Amazing that you got so smart attending public schools. Hang in there. You are not alone and when you run for governor of wi I will be sure to vote for you.

    britta anderson
    03/29/2013

    Keep up the good work, Dude. Don't let these ignorant, bullying bigots get to you. Remember, they are no better than you are, so who are they to judge you? Who are they to condemn you? It goes to show that even the Idiot Left are ten times lower than the Nazis, because they are Nazis. You can tell them that too. You can even tell them that Political Correction is a horribly, ugly cancerous mental disease that is deeply rooted in Nazism. It's unfortunate that the Idiot Left practices this garbage. There are a lot of good people that will be behind you, myself included. You are not alone, Hon. God bless you.

    JewishOdysseus
    03/29/2013

    These bullying "teachers" are nothing more than filthy subversive America-haters who need to be named, fired, and prosecuted for fraud against the public. They take their paychecks to "teach"--they spend their time "indoctrinating" and bullying. How can they look at themselves in the mirror? Disgraceful. If our country was sane, they'd be tarred&feathered. Bravo to Benji for his courage & guts, our country has a chance!!

    Scott Anderson
    04/01/2013

    If your teachers had the ability to function in the private sector, they would do so. The reason they hate is because they fear. And the thing they fear is being compensated fairly.

    Pete Welsh
    03/29/2013

    Contact Jay Sekulow at the American Center for Law and Justice. He does great work on these types of things.

    Derick Schuhart
    03/29/2013

    I posted this article on Jay's Facebook page and asked if he could help. Hope he gets to read this.

    Danielle Stultz
    03/29/2013

    I had similar situations like this in highschool and that was in 2006 before walker was elected the only difference is I never spoke up. I think.it's sad that teachers are persuading students to vote on the left side. It scares me to think that when my 2 year old is in school it will only be worse. You are an inspiration to our future generations.

    Ron Johns Jr.
    03/29/2013

    Great post Benji! Stay strong you having to stand for what you believe in will only make it stronger. Your one teacher was right though good politicians do read so start with Ron Paul's End The Fed, Rand Paul's Government Bullies, Economics in One Lesson, some Milton Freidmon and some F. A. Hayek.

    Gee Pucc
    04/05/2013

    BENJI FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!!

    Derick Schuhart
    03/28/2013

    Stand Strong Benji. Don't let anyone intimidate you, harrass you, or get you to change your conservative beliefs! Stand for something, or die for nothing. You are going to be great!
    Derick- Neenah, WI

    Sue Kroeber
    03/28/2013

    What courage! Makes me sad because this is a whole new level of school bullying and intimidation. The goal is to change how you think and how dare you think differently. The progressive movement is Orwellian.

    Freedom Barbie
    03/28/2013

    Benji, you are an inspiration and give me hope that our future is not lost. You are correct that it is time to go back to teaching how to think and not what to think. A lone voice can sometimes have the greatest impact..... Thank you for Loving America and standing up to the liberal indoctrination that has been going on way too long. ~ Freedom Barbie!!

    verbatim's picture
    verbatim
    03/16/2014

    d***. public schools sound like a war zone. you're my hero, kid. don't give, don't back down to these know-nothings. young conservatives like you are the future.

    Gee Pucc
    04/05/2013

    Benji, there are alot of us who believe as you do...keep it up! As u probably knw the collage in florida had to appoligize to a student, after an incident involving inappropriate teacher behavior! Make the school public as u can! Sock it to them...as scott walker inspired you, you will inspire someone else,perhaps another student! Luv u kid!(:

    Erin Grzeda
    03/31/2013

    Benji, you are truly an inspiration. As a elementary school teacher, I see this type of behavior from other teachers and am often very frustrated. I myself, have felt bullied and mistreated for my conservative views as well and am proud of you for fighting for your beliefs and standing up against the inappropriate behavior of your teachers. You are absolutely right that school should be a place where anyone can voice their opinions and not be mistreated. I applaud you for your maturity and determination. Keep fighting!

    Charlotte Whitaker
    03/29/2013

    Bold & brave, Benji. You have taken challenging situations, grown from them and at the same time made the country better.

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