American Election Process.

Politically-balanced unit

In 2011, John Jones, a middle school social science teacher began a unit on the American election process. He began with an introduction of political parties from the revolution to present day. At the end of the politically-balanced unit, students participated in mock debates as candidates from each party and ultimately held a mock presidential election in his classroom.

After the votes were counted and a winner determined, one of his students asked Mr. Jones who he was planning to vote for in the “real” election.  He answered the question in age-appropriate language and, when prompted, explained why. He reminded his students that voting was not only a reflection of personal beliefs, but a responsibility as a citizen of the United States.

When Janie Johnson got home from school that day, she noticed – for the first time – signs in her neighbor’s front yards supporting one of the presidential candidates. At dinner she asked her parents who they planned to vote for. Their choice differed significantly from her teacher’s. Janie’s father was quite upset at Janie’s explanation of the other candidate. To him, it was not Mr. Jones’ job as her teacher her to “put those kinds of ideas in her head.” The next day he called the principal demanding that Mr. Jones be removed from the classroom.

You are the principal.

1. What do you tell the father? Why?

2. What, if anything, do you say to Mr. Jones, the teacher? Why?

You are Mr. Jones.

1. Have you done anything wrong?

2. What court case(s) would you cite in your behalf? Be specific. Cite the case name, court ruling, or law.

Answer the following questions:

1. Who was Pickering and why is he important?

2. A teacher speaks out at a rally against FCAT. This is not the first “FIRE FCAT” rally held in this community. Can her statement be protected by the First Amendment?  Under what circumstances?

3. A student sees a picture of math teacher James Johnson in his KKK garb that Johnson posts on his Facebook page. Can Johnson be fired because of his KKK membership? Why or why not?

4. After their honeymoon Jane Jones and her new husband Jason return to their teaching jobs at JFK Middle School. At lunch that day the principal informs them that one of them must transfer to a new school. Can the principal do this? Why or why not?

Chapter 10 covers several topics, chief among which is teachers’ rights.  There are three main court cases which address free speech:

· Pickering v. Board of Education

· Connick v. Myers

· Garcetti v. Ceballos

In order to respond to the questions, you will have to do some research on your own.Ask yourself this question:  “Is the employee speaking as a private citizen or as an employee?”

Question 1 :  What is the main difference between the Pickering decisions and the Garcetti decision?  Where does the Connick decision fit in?

Question 2:  A special education teacher complains to his principal that the school is violating federal law in trying to meet the needs of students with disabilities.  The teacher subsequently made a statement to the local newspaper accusing the principal and district of improperly spending federally allocated money.  The principal did not renew the teacher’s contract.  The special education teacher subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging a violation of his First Amendment rights.  What might be the result of the lawsuit?

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