How to Take a Stand Against Classroom Bullying and Bias

As students of all ages go back to school, we need to address a very important issue. This issue is one I brought up this past March; bias and bullying in the classroom. In the course of the past few weeks, we have seen this issue reemerging in the national media. Teachers on both ends of the political spectrum are guilty of bias, and sometimes bullying, and it needs to end.

In late August, a professor at Michigan State University went on a rant about Republicans during class. Early last week, Campus Reform released a video of this impassioned venting, which gained national attention.  Here are just a few of the disturbing and inappropriate quotes from the professor:

“If you go to the Republican convention in Florida, you see all of the old Republicans with the dead skin cells washing off them,” the professor is heard saying in the video. “They are cheap. They don’t want to pay taxes because they have already raped this country and gotten everything out of it they possibly could.”

“This country still is full of closet racists. “What do you think is going on in South Carolina and North Carolina? — voter suppression. It’s about getting black people not to vote. Why? Because black people tend to vote Democratic.”

The video also showed that the professor called out a student for his unhappy facial expressions during the rant.

I have received many emails, tweets, and responses in the past five months since I wrote my first article about my experiences in the classroom.  Many of which lead me to believe that similar instances have happened to thousands of students in high school and college. Almost everyone who spoke to me about this issue said they were either too scared to stand up against it, or they didn’t know how.

Here are a few tips on how to address bias or bullying by a teacher:

Publicly declaring that the bias/bullying being displayed won’t be tolerated is an important first step. Telling the teacher or professor what they said or did was wrong and inappropriate in the presence of others takes courage, but it must be done.  You must show that you will not be bullied, and that you will also not stay silent. They will only continue behavior which they believe they can get away with. To protect yourself, you should have witnesses.  Stay calm, and polite, but be assertive.

“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” ― Maggie Kuhn

In high school, talking to the principal or school board can be an effective way of stopping a specific teacher from sharing their biased views in the classroom.  You should review the school policies with the principal and the school board to ensure that actions are taken, and that the teacher knows you are serious about stopping unprofessional behavior. If necessary, file a complaint and open an investigation with your school or school district. While taking actions against your teacher may cause a disruption in your school year and even cause you to switch classes, this may be a necessary step to avoid further classroom tension. 

If those two options fail to stop the abusive behavior or biased teaching, writing an article or taking a video during class are options as well.  Make sure you follow your state’s recording laws so that you don’t cause more trouble for yourself.  You do not want the story to become about how you broke the law. Share your story with bloggers, on social media and other media outlets too. The more the public knows about it, the better. 

Lastly, in order to help put an end to indoctrination in your area, talk to your college or school board about implementing a rule similar to this one in my district. (Appleton Area School District)’s rule 522.5.

I am currently working with a Madison, Wisconsin think tank to write up a resolution. Critics to this rule/resolution claim it restricts the First Amendment for teachers. This is a false accusation, as teachers can still discuss, volunteer and engage in politics as much as they want outside of school and not during class hours. The rule seeks to provide an un-biased classroom so students can make up their own mind.

If a teacher or professor has been harassing you or other students because of political views, spewing bias or indoctrinating students, you need to stand up. We need teachers and parents to stand up as well. By doing so, you may be saving other students from experiencing the same situation (or worse) in the future.