The morning after the world learned President Donald Trump contracted the coronavirus, a Seattle-area teacher went on a rant about the president to sixth graders. When a mom complained, he misled her about what happened. Luckily, the mom recorded the incident on her cell phone.
Brendan Stanton, a middle school teacher at P.G. Keithley Middle School in Tacoma (in the Franklin Pierce School District), asked students who they admired and why. One student answered President Trump. That triggered Stanton.
Not only did the teacher boot the student from the chat, he proceeded to scold the child for his “inappropriate” answer.
(Watch video and listen to the parent/teacher phone conference here).
Elsy Kusander’s 10-year-old son logged into his remote classes for another day of online learning on Friday, Oct. 2. Little did he know he’d be scolded for his support for Trump.
Each day, Stanton asks his students a daily question. This time he asked students, “Who is the one person you admire and why?” Students are asked to write their answers in the online chatroom. According to a screenshot, Kusander’s son wrote:
I admire Donald J. Trump because he is making America great again. And because he is the best president the United States of America could ever, ever have. And he built the wall so terrorists couldn’t come into in the U.S. Trump is the best person in the world. And that’s why I had admire him.
Stanton almost immediately kicked the student out of the chatroom, deleted the chat, and proceeded to attack the president, while calling out the student for mentioning him. The student, who I am keeping anonymous, immediately told his mother.
When Kusander came into the room to see what happened, she heard Stanton berating the president. She started to film the comments on her cell phone.
“The example that was shared in the chat, which I went ahead and erased for us, was not appropriate right? Especially as that individual has created so much division and hatred between people and specifically spoken hatred to many different individuals, OK?,” Stanton told his students.
Stanton was so offended, he apparently wouldn’t even say the president’s name. Instead, he referred to Trump as “that individual.” But he wasn’t done.
“Again, that individual has spoken hate to many individuals and I don’t think is an appropriate example for a role model that we should be admiring,” Stanton concluded.
Kusander was shocked at Stanton’s comments.
“I went into my son’s room and I heard the teacher saying that this individual is hateful and divisive, etc. I started to record,” Kusander told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “How can a teacher be teaching to his students horrible things about the president of the country without facts?”
Kusander demanded a phone call with Stanton to discuss the incident. The teacher obliged later that afternoon.
Normally, digital classes are recorded and posted to the online portal for students and their parents. This portion of the class? Stanton said he didn’t record it, citing student privacy. But perhaps he knew he acted out inappropriately, but without any evidence, who could ever know? He didn’t know Kusander recorded a portion of the incident when he initially spoke to her. That might be why Stanton didn’t explain to her everything that happened.
Stanton told the mother that he only deleted the Trump comment because it wasn’t related to the question of the day. He insists he told the students to choose a computer programmer they admired and if they couldn’t think of one they could list someone from the community.
“Donald Trump would not fit that prompt … just because it was a little bit off topic,” Stanton told Kusander according to an audio recording of the conversation shared with the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
Kusander told Stanton she was recording the conversation at the start of the call.
Stanton then claims another student was offended by Kusander’s answer, and that’s why he deleted it. He assured the mother that it had nothing to do with his own political positions.
“My perspective has nothing to do with Donald Trump himself, right? I try to keep politics out of the classroom,” he explained.
When Kusander questions his recap, Stanton again assured her it wasn’t political at all.
“I do try to keep politics out of the classroom … because students have different opinions, right?,” he said. “And so if the way that I said it was not perfect, I do apologize. What I was trying to say is just, ‘Hey, hey, guys, let’s get it back to our topic of the day because we really need to get moving into our content, which was on our computer scientists.'”
But even in this call, Stanton pushed his political position. He said he was offended by her son’s claim that the border wall keeps out terrorists.
“But we know that our neighbors at the southern border are not all terrorists, right?,” he noted.
The student neither said southern neighbors are terrorists nor implied it.
Kusander pointed out that she emigrated to the United States from Honduras. Stanton told her, “So you would understand.” Not quite. She went on to explain why she’s against illegal immigration, despite Stanton assuming she’d agree with him.
Kusander finally revealed she actually witnessed and recorded the incident. Stanton’s story then started to change.
“I came into the room, and you were talking, I got my phone and I recorded part of your conversation,” she revealed before doubling down. “I clearly saw and recorded what you were saying …”
Suddenly, the apolitical Stanton who would never bring his political opinion into the classroom, was a little more honest about what transpired.
“I do apologize if my words were not perfect at the time,” he told her. “If I used … if I said that Trump was ‘hateful and divisive,’ that may have been what I used at the time, but my purpose was in bringing us back to the conversation of computer scientists and the positive role that they’ve played in our history.”
He again offered to apologize to her son.
“I totally respect him as an individual. And his opinion. I am always interested in student feedback and also parent feedback as well. So I appreciate you having this conversation with me,” Stanton said.
As much as Stanton would have Kusander believe he keeps politics out of the classroom, the opposite was quite clearly the case here.
The teacher’s comments weren’t fleeting to get the conversation back on track. They were sustained criticisms to make it clear that he doesn’t approve of the president, as if any of his students even care what his stance is. He literally wouldn’t say the president’s name. That doesn’t seem particularly healthy.
Multiple emails to Stanton, the principal of P.G. Keithley Middle School, and the district communications manager went unanswered.
Kusander shouldn’t just be commended for being such a tremendous advocate for her son. Her decision to record the rant and confront the teacher is a masterclass in how to handle these issues. She’s not doing this to get Stanton fired. She just wants him to understand why this is inappropriate so he better handles himself if this happens again.
Let this be another reminder to pay close attention to what teachers are telling your kids. Some of their political bias is pretty clear.
At Seattle’s Catharine Blaine K-8, one teacher taught students as young as 11-years-old to refer to a riot as an “uprising” and rioters as “freedom fighters.” A second grade teacher at Grove Elementary in Marysville pushed a shockingly anti-police video to students. In Gig Harbor, at Discovery Elementary, students were recommended a book instructing them to become Progressive activists.
Remember to talk to your children and ask them about what they’re learning. And don’t be too shy to record what you witness teachers saying to your kids if it’s inappropriate. If you don’t, the video from the classroom may not be uploaded as you expect.
Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook.