Wire service and other news reports are saying that Jay Bennish, a high school geography teacher in Aurora, Colo., is planning to file a lawsuit in hopes of getting reinstated after some comments he made about President Bush during a class lecture.
Bennish wasn’t counting on a student recording those comments and making them public.
“Now I’m not saying that Bush and Hitler are exactly the same, obviously they’re not, OK," Jay Bennish was heard saying on a recording of his class lecture on the day after Bush’s State of the Union Address. "But there are eerie similarities to the tones that they use."
A Denver television station quoted Bennish’s lawyer David Lane as saying that a “teacher’s goal is to provoke students to think for themselves.” Lane also told the station that Bennish sees himself as a patriotic American and just wants to get back to teaching.
"He’s terribly upset about the fact that he can’t teach right now," Lane said.
Lane argued that the Cherry Creek School District has no right to place Bennish on paid administrative leave from his high school.
"No action should be taken against someone who is exercising their rights under the First Amendment," Lane said.
Recording lectures is pretty common. I did it during some of my junior college classes because I could not take notes fast enough.
Sean Allen, the student who recorded the lecture, brought Bennish’s comments to the attention of an online columnist and radio talk show hosts.
"He is not teacher geography," Allen said during a radio talk show on Wednesday evening. "About 80 percent of the time, he’s teaching his biased political opinions and giving them to our class as a fact."
Allen didn’t attend class Thursday after getting negative feedback to his actions from fellow students. At the school Thursday, dozens of students walked out in support of Bennish. Other students said they thought Allen did the right thing and that Bennish should "teach, not preach."
Reports say the school district is investigating Bennish’s comments and hoped to have a final decision by late next week.
Oh, does this bring back memories!!
I attended Kimball High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. Royal Oak is a suburb located about 15 miles north of Detroit.
While reading this story it reminded me of a couple of radical teachers I had. I will just use initials because I know one of those teachers is deceased.
During my junior year in high school, I was in a class where the subject was titled “United Nations.” Well, Mrs. O who taught the class never discussed the United Nations but decided to use the class time to lecture students on why the United States should get out of Vietnam and how we should all join war protesters to make our feelings known on that subject.
One day during class and yes, I remember this vividly, she even said that “Nixon and Agnew want to put dissenters into concentration camps.” Implying that Nixon and Agnew were going to use the same tactics that Hitler used in World War Two against Jews and anyone else who didn’t agree with him or his policies.
I happened to be enrolled in that class when then Vice President Spiro Agnew went on network television to lambaste the network media.
The next day, Mrs. O was incensed. She even invited another class to attend while we had to listen to an audiotape of Agnew’s speech. VCRs were not in vogue back then.
Another time she happened to have a 1944 copy of Life magazine and told us how she was appalled that some manufacturing company was promoting bombing Germany. This was a World War Two magazine!! She criticized the company for having no regard “for human life” and this was fighting Hitler’s Germany during World War Two!!
She was not the only one. A Business Law teacher at the same school, Mr. S was from Canada. He made no bones about his dislike for the United States. He enjoyed criticizing Nixon and Agnew as well.
But what killed me was the day that Mr. S said, “Yes, many people come to the United States in hopes of a better life. I don’t know what. But they still come.”
One day I happened to ask Mr. S, “Do you plan to go back to Canada for your retirement?” He said, “I have thought about it. But it is very unlikely.”
Another case of do as we say not as we do.
Many kids, the ones us “straight guys” called the “hippie freaks” at this high school tore down the American flag in the courtyard after President Nixon announced that American troops were invading Cambodia. The commotion got to be such that the city police had to be called in to restore order.
Luckily, the school decided not to implicate those who missed “fourth hour” that day.
It was because of this high school and the liberal teachers and the hippie types that made me decide to become a conservative.
I commend Sean Allen for making these tapes public and putting this teacher on notice. Taxpayers don’t pay for America bashing. This is probably a reason why private schools and home schooling have become so popular with many parents.
When President Bush brings up this “No Child Left Behind”, he should realize that these liberal teachers have dumbed students down and left them behind for several decades now.
Keep fighting Sean! Hang tough and maybe more parents and taxpayers will start questioning what our public schools are doing and actually accomplishing.