Dear Dr. Hinson,
Social media sure was buzzing today! I thought at first your BFF Brownback finally got his rose from President-elect Trump to be Secretary of Agriculture, but then I read about the big controversy in the Shawnee Mission School District about teachers and staff reprimanded wearing safety pins. Why the safety pins? (For readers who may have been living under a rock for the past two weeks), let’s go to the VERY neutral source of Pop Sugar who brings us cutting edge articles like “These are the 9 best body butters for soft skin in winter.” There are some great tips so please stop and read.
“A few days post-election and it’s not unusual to hear about hate crimes happening around the country, including — but not limited to — ones against immigrants, people of color, and Muslims. But in the midst of all that negativity, people are banding together in a positive way, wearing safety pins to symbolize solidarity and to combat what’s going on. The movement, which started in the UK when similar events occurred post-Brexit, is a simple and easy way of saying, “Hey, whoever you are, whatever you believe in, you’re safe with me.” http://www.popsugar.com/fashion/What-Does-Wearing-Safety-Pin-Mean-42695540#photo-42695540
Your official statement below– I took the liberty of bolding the interesting part.
“Recent events require us to remind our employees of their rights and responsibilities. As a staff member, you do not give up your first amendment right to free-speech on matters of public concern. However, your communication inside the classroom on school time is considered speech on behalf of the school district and there is a limitation on that speech.
The wearing of a safety pin as a political statement is the latest example of such political speech. Although wearing the safety pin as political speech is not the problem, any disruption the political statement causes in the classroom or school is a distraction in the education process. We ask staff members to refrain from wearing safety pins or other symbols of divisive and partisan political speech while on duty–unless such activity is specifically in conjunction with District curriculum.
Further, the use of district owned devices and accounts is strictly forbidden for anything other than District business. If you have questions regarding appropriate use, please see BOE policies IIBF and GAT.
NEA-SM and the Board of Education are committed to the safety of every student. Thank you in advance for your careful review of this statement and for working with all students of the Shawnee Mission community.”
The Shawnee Mission School District has been and will continue to be a district that focuses on taking care of students and making sure that all students feel safe and supported regardless of issues or concerns occurring outside of our schools.
Translation – Stop wearing pins and they are reading your emails! You have been warned.
From the Shawnee Mission Post,
“The ACLU of Kansas strongly urges you to reconsider the prohibition on staff wearing safety pins,” wrote Executive Director Micah Kubic. “The school district’s current policy sends students a clear signal that not all students are valued or safe at school, undermines attempts to build community, and is vulnerable to a legal challenge.”
I see the ACLU is in the “strongly urge” stage. It hasn’t been proven, but I know there are 5 stages to the ACLU that you should be aware of and they are as follows:
1.The side-eye and harsh glance stage. This is reserved for minor offenses. This one can be summed up in an amusing GIF.
2.The “ya might want to rethink that” stage. That means you have done something severe enough that they have sent one of their lawyers an email with the subject line “heads up”. The email has then been forwarded about one THOUSAND times so everyone is on alert.
3. The stern warning stage – I’m not talking about a stern warning from your mom to clean your room. This is where they have added you to the section of the website known as “know your rights.” You are part of their strategic communication plan and honey, they are organized. Once you are part of the website, you aren’t EVER coming off.
4. The “strongly urges you to reconsider” stage – that is where we are today. The lawyers are ready, but no action has been taken yet. The key word is yet.
5. Finally, the “Alert! Alert! Rights have been violated” stage – you better lawyer up, because this one is going to be a long and costly process. Here comes the lawsuit. Hope the kids don’t need new books, playground equipment or desks next year, because you are going to be b-r-o-k-e fighting this one. The ACLU moves from stage 4 to 5 faster than college kids swiping on Tinder at 1 am on a Saturday night.
Now that we have identified the 5 stages of ACLU, I noticed that you did what any PR genius would do to calm tensions, you compared the safety pin to the Confederate Flag.
“It was also discovered Tuesday that district administrators dealt with at least one instance of a Confederate flag being displayed in a classroom. “We asked that individual to remove the flag, we found that to be political speech that would be disruptive,” says Superintendent Jim Hinson. “They removed that flag”
“Any political speech that’s disruptive, whether it’s a flag or safety pin, we’re going to deal with it all the same,” according to Hinson. “The school house is not the place for students to be exposed to any type of political indoctrination.”
School house? The 1850’s called and they want their term back. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, calms people down more than comparing the issues of safety and security with the Confederate Flag. Well done,Dr. Hinson, well done. I believe that’s the ACLU for you calling on line 1.
Yours for allowing teachers to wear safety pins,