Pennsylvania state lawmaker Will Tallman is looking to curb the free speech of public school teachers with a bill that would ban discussion of modern-day civics, politics and science in the classroom, according to The Morning Call.
> On Friday, Tallman sent a memo to the 203-member state House seeking support for a bill he dubbed the “Teacher Code of Ethics,” which legal experts questioned as unconstitutional overreach.
> In the memo, Tallman said his bill would forbid public school teachers from endorsing, supporting or opposing candidates or incumbents for local, state and federal offices while in the classroom. On the job, teachers could not discuss enacted or pending legislation, regulations, executive orders or court cases involving any level or branch of government. They could not talk about activities “that hamper or impede” law enforcement actions or military recruiters on campus.
Tallman’s bill likely has little chance of passing, as legal experts decried the legislation as unconstitutional.
> “It runs roughshod over the cardinal principle of academic freedom,” said David Hudson, a professor at the Nashville School of Law in Tennessee and ombudsman for Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C. “In certain classes, political speech and frank discussion is necessary. I mean social studies class, contemporary issues — you need teachers talking about current events.”
The Republican’s memo said teachers would be unable to “introduce into class any controversial subject matter that is not germane to the topic of the course being taught; or advocate for any issue that is part of a political party platform at the national, state, or local Level.”
Violating the proposed law could see teachers suspended or even losing their state license.
> “Our K-12 school teachers should not be using their classroom time spent on political or ideological indoctrination,” Tallman said in his memo. “Doing so takes time away from instruction in the academic foundation subjects of mathematics, science, English, history, and civics, and prevents our students from receiving a high-quality public education for careers in the global, high-tech economy.”
The Morning Call noted that Tallman is not seeking reelection this year.