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Rantz: Teacher tells students noose, college rejection, and war represent Republicans

A former teacher of the week nominee hosted an ideologically bigoted, overtly political display in her classroom. One freshman took notice and showed a photo to his father. Now, he says the teacher is singling him out.

In a large classroom display at Timberline High School in Lacey, the social studies teacher portrays Republicans as uneducated, bigoted, warmongers. Democrats, on the other hand, focus on justice and are tolerant and successful. There are also several political bumper stickers on display, including “Resist” and a quote from Colin Kaepernick.

The district now confirms to the Jason Rantz Show that the teacher is being investigated for the display. MyNorthwest chooses not to identify teachers when they have not been fired nor charged for any crimes.

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Republican display includes noose

The classroom display is imposing. It takes up a corner near the front of the classroom. It’s hard to miss the one-sided political messages.

At the top of the display is an eagle with its wings outstretched. Each wing is labeled “Democrat” and “Republican,” with images meant to exemplify principles or positions of the political parties. It seems clear that the teacher is no fan of the Republican Party.

On the Republican side, the most disturbing image is a noose. It also shows a troop firing a weapon, a message reading “rejected college application,” and an alien spaceship.

On the Democrat side, it’s less negative and judgmental. It shows an economic graph showing success, an image for equal justice, an LGBTQ message that “love is gender-blind,” and a pro-abortion message, “her body, her choice.”

Bumper stickers are mostly partisan

Beneath the eagle are several bumper stickers. They’re almost entirely partisan.

One bumper sticker demands students “RESIST,” a common rallying cry of Black Lives Matter activists. The teacher also includes a sticker with a quote from former NFL quarterback and anti-cop activist Colin Kaepernick. It reads, “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.”

Other stickers read, “War is how Americans learn geography,” and “The Women are coming. Expect Us.” Many of the other stickers focus on the environment.

Freshman and his father speak out

The freshman who took the photo, Keenan, was disturbed by the display. He was taught better than to label people the way his teacher decided to.

“In her mind, she thinks that all Republicans are bad,” Keenan explained on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “And I know, my dad has taught me, that not everyone is bad and just everyone should treat everyone equal, and it’s not just Democrats that do good. It’s everyone. Because she presumes that we are racist and that kind of stuff, but we aren’t.”

Keenan’s father was also shocked when he learned of the display.

At first, when Keenan explained the set-up, the father thought his son was exaggerating. But when Keenan showed him the picture, he realized he wasn’t being told a story — it’s legitimate.

“The striking thing that caught my eye was the Republican side of the eagle in the picture displays the picture of a noose,” the father told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “So this teacher thinks it is OK for teenage students to view the Republican party as the people who hang people from nooses.”

He reported it first anonymously because he didn’t want to get his son in trouble. But then he went public.

“I have made the school aware of the classroom, and quite frankly, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for discussion [and] they rushed me off the phone and haven’t responded to any of my emails,” he told me.

That has since changed.

The school is investigating

The district’s spokesperson, Courtney Schrieve, confirmed that they are now investigating how this happened.

Schrieve says North Thurston Public Schools hopes for a “balanced” education that allows students to “draw their own conclusions, share opinions, and study an accurate account of our country’s history.” But this display fell short of district expectations.

“Regarding the photo in question, the display was inappropriate and taken down when it came to the attention of the district on Friday, September 10. The matter is currently under investigation by district Human Resources,” Schrieve said.

The spokesperson notes that staff in the classroom are “speaking on behalf of the district.” And that means that they must not take political positions or share personal beliefs — whether in speech or with decorations and displays.

“In response to this event, we will be reviewing expectations of classroom displays and decorations in classrooms with our principals. We are taking this very seriously I can assure you,” she said.

I believe her.

Troubling aftermath for the student

After Keenan complained, he says the teacher singled him out.

He showed up to class on Monday, Sept. 14, and saw the teacher or school had removed the display. He was about to take a photo of the area for his father when he said the teacher saw him. She didn’t react well, he claims.

“She saw me on my phone, so that was kind of my problem for that. And then she took my phone and sent me to the principal’s office, which that’s on me, but then another kid had his phone out, and she just told him to put it away,” he said.

When he returned to class, he felt like she gave him looks because his father complained about her display.

“It sure made me feel uncomfortable just because during the class, she would kind of just like stare at me, and give me dirty looks,” he said.

This is clearly inappropriate, but the student has a great response

This display is objectively inappropriate.

The message to students is that Republicans are evil and Democrats are righteous. That may be how this ideologically bigoted teacher views the two parties, but her bias lets her students down. The teacher leans into hate, too terrified to offer an objective view of Republicans out of fear her students will identify with them. It’s transparently obvious what she’s doing, and kudos to the student who told their father about what they saw.

It’s hard to believe an adult would think this is an appropriate display. But when you’re blinded by ideology, you don’t think rationally. It’s terrifying to think what she was getting away with when it can’t be easily recorded.

What should happen to this teacher? Keenan hopes she becomes more respectful of the people who hold different political positions.

“I mean, she’s probably a nice person just outside of school. … I don’t really want to see people lose their jobs, but I hope she can think of a different way about us and maybe take this mistake and try to evolve as a person,” he said.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM, HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and like me on Facebook

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