US Constitution: Banned in Batavia

A teacher at Batavia High School in Batavia, Illinois, has been disciplined for informing students of their constitutional rights. Education News reports:

A high school social studies teacher in Batavia, Illinois, faces disciplinary action for informing students of their Fifth Amendment rights in connection with a survey asking about illegal drug use. The survey, ostensibly aimed at assessing the needs of students at Batavia High School, was distributed on April 18. After picking up the survey forms from his mailbox about 10 minutes before his first class of the day, John Dryden noticed that they had students’ names on them and that they asked about drinking and drug use, among other subjects. Dryden, who had just finished teaching a unit on the Bill of Rights, worried that students might feel obliged to incriminate themselves—an especially ticklish situation given the police officer stationed at the school. Since there was no time to confer with administrators, he says, he decided to tell his students that they did not have to complete the forms if doing so involved admitting illegal behavior.

Dr. Jack Barshinger, the school superintendent, issued a cowardly set of innuendos to justify the action. While hiding behind confidentiality to avoid giving any facts or making any concrete charges, he stated: “What the BPS101 Board does not, and will not support, is any employee giving students false impressions about the motivations of those who come here every day to try to improve the lives of the students entrusted to our care.” Without saying a single thing about what Dryden did, he implies that Dryden misled the students. What falsehood did he suggest? That the Constitution applies to high school students? That admitting to illegal acts could endanger them? That the students should take their own safety into account rather than blindly obeying the school?

He concludes by hypocritically declaring that “the best interests of the students must, and will, always come first.” Apparently he thinks ignorance is what’s in their best interest. That’s a disgusting position for a so-called educator to take.

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