/ March 3, 2006 01:38 AM
Colorado high school teacher Jay Bennish was suspended from his classroom because of remarks that he made comparing President Bush's policies to those of Adolph Hitler. [You can listen to a student's secret recording of the teacher's provocative tirade right here.]
At least 150 Overland High School students walked out of class today to protest administrators' decision to put a teacher on leave while they investigate remarks he made about President Bush during class, including that some people compare Bush to Adolf Hitler.
I think that Bennish's rant was clearly out-of-bounds here. His remarks were uttered not within the confines of a private institution, but in a public school.
Cherry Creek School District administrators were investigating whether geography teacher Jay Bennish violated a policy requiring balancing viewpoints in the classroom, district spokeswoman Tustin Amole said.
Amole said Bennish was placed on administrative leave Wednesday to avoid further disruption at the school in this east Denver suburb.
She said the school had heard rumors about the protest, which included some students who objected to Bennish's comments. Students were told to return to class, but she said no disciplinary action was taken.
"It was peaceful. The students yelled, but there was no fighting," Amole said. "Most of them did return to class." Sophomore Sean Allen recorded about 20 minutes of Bennish's class during a Feb. 1 discussion about Bush's State of the Union speech and gave the recording to his father, who complained to the principal, Amole said.
"After listening to the tape, it's evident the comments in the class were inappropriate. There were not adequate opportunities for opposing points of view," she said.
A telephone number listed for Bennish, who has been teaching social studies and American history at Overland since 2000, had been disconnected.
No action has been taken against Bennish, Amole said. She said the investigation should be complete by late next week while officials continue to talk to students, parents and faculty members.
Amole said Bennish told school officials he had received threats as news of the allegations spread, but she did not speculate on what the threats were and who made them.
She said he was the subject of similar complaints a few years ago, but said that case was resolved after Bennish met with a parent and the school principal.
Allen stayed home from school today to avoid any backlash, Amole said.
What will happen?
My guess is that the most likely consequence that Bennish will receive for his actions will be a few days suspension and the placement of a letter of reprimand in his personnel file. Dismissal is unlikely, as the district will take the view that his utterances did not rise to the level of inappropriateness that would necessitate his permanent removal from the classroom.
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Posted by Edwonk on March 3, 2006 01:38 AM (Permalink)
It is such a shame that in America when you have a teacher who attempts to widen the frame of thought of his pupils, he is suspended.
"you have to figure this stuff out for your selves..but I want you to think about these things(Jay Bennish 17m18secs)"
"I'm not in any way trying to get you to agree with me...But what i am trying to do is get you to think about these things..more in depth(Jay Bennish 20m5 secs)"
I thought the purpose of a good teacher was to forment discussion and challenge conventional thought. The pupil who recorded him, obviously has a one dimensional view that believes all current conflict with the U.S began on 9/11.
"We were attacked first(Sean Allen 18mins)".I think he needs history lessons. He also states that there was a link between Al qaeda and Saddam's Iraq, when the two were fundamentally opposed
"the iraqi government has ties to Al Qaeda(Sean Allen 18m11secs).
Saddam was a secular nationalist and membership of Al Qaeda in Iraq would have meant a death sentence. Al Qaeda believes in the establishment of a wide Muslim caliphate.
Sean Allen attempts to goad the teacher into making anti-israel and anti-U.S statements while he covertly records it. Mr Bennish suffers from a lack of professionalism in his delivery but his way of challenging his pupils is refreshing. What's wrong with your children thinking and making their own minds up rather than being fed a steady diet of media malaise.
Posted by: Deco on March 3, 2006 07:01 AM
Posted by: x on March 3, 2006 08:28 AM
How is his rant education? ... it's not. It's his opinion and ideology.
Posted by: anon on March 7, 2006 12:07 AM
I just WISH one of my teachers would have had the courage to TEACH...YES, TEACH in this fashion. That is, present facts AND interpretation of those facts AND yes, opinion...AND encouragement to think about this stuff ourselves and make our own decision. He is taking the most current news of the U.S. government--Bush's speech--and providing a counterpoint to BUSH'S ranting rhetoric--to challenge assumptions, and foster thinking and reflection, the catalysts of real LEARNING! But some of you out there clearly don't want to think or learn...well, Bush is definitely YOUR MAN...
Posted by: Bob on March 7, 2006 11:10 AM
Bob, you're an asshole. People (like you) think that the cool thing to do is hate the president, just because he's the president. Bennish's comments were out of line. The only reason he even says, "I'm not trying in any way to get you to agree with me," is to save his own ass, just in case a sitution like this one did arise. That's not teaching, that's pushing your opinion on someone. Nowhere in a teacher's job description does it say that they can compare America to Nazi Germany. Do you know why, Bob? BECAUSE THAT'S NOT A FACT, YOU FUCKING DEMOCRAT! You said it yourself, "present facts." Do you really think that saying America was founded on terrorism is an accurate statement? If so, may God have mercy on your soul, sir, because you're mental acumen is obviously way below par.
Posted by: david on March 7, 2006 10:04 PM
Well David. Your choice to fill this anonymous space with vicious insults, blind characterizations, and filthy language aimed at me objectively and impartially shows you're a sad, small man. And I guess it all demonstrates YOUR level of acumen. Here's why it's obvious you're an unhappy and insecure guy with way too much time on his hands. You're raging against stuff you fantasized that isn't even in my post. You're wrong about my being a democrat; you're wrong to suggest I "hate the president" or that I "think it's cool" (never did I say either thing). You're wrong about the FACT that to England the American revolutionaries were terrorists. You're wrong about the FACT that in the minds of many groups around the world (whether you agree with them or not) the U.S. continues to fund and orchestrate terrorist acts, by supporting Israel, the various bombings under Clinton and Bush, etc. And you're wrong about teachers and their job descriptions; it's perfectly acceptable and necessary for a teacher to present diverse approaches to facts and events, teachers do this every day. So really, you're just wrong. Since you brought up God, and God's mercy, I know I am recipient of that mercy and I pray that you may know it as well. God bless you.
Posted by: Bob on March 7, 2006 10:31 PM
You're right. It is perfectly acceptable and necessary for a teacher to present diverse approaches to facts and events. However, that is not what Mr. Bennish did. In what way is he even presenting any facts? He's not. He's giving his opinion, which is so radically anti-american that it doesn't even belong in the country, let alone a public high school. His subjective views on the tobacco industry are completely inane, and in no way have anything to do with the curriculum of a 10th grade geography class. He suggests that other countries have the right to invade our territory and destroy a completely legal industry. He actually had the audacity to compare our leader to the most hate-filled and evil dictator in world history. Do these sound like appropriate things to be drilling into impressionable 15 and 16 year olds heads? And when did I ever say that to Enland the American Revolutionaries were terrorists?
Posted by: david on March 7, 2006 11:48 PM
Try not to psycho analyze each other too much. You both had good points. But the teacher was out of line.
Posted by: Sam on March 8, 2006 11:28 AM
Thanks for the positive comments Sam. But Sam, this is an anonymous post where David doesn't have to confront me face to face when he insults me with expletives and such. Objective, common sense--not psychoanalysis--suggests a person who would do this is a person acting in a small and insecure way. So I was just observing, not analyzing or insulting back. About the TEACHER though...David, my statement about England having to deal with terrorist miltary insurgents, i.e. George Washington, in the colonies was my response to your vehement objection to the teacher saying the U.S. was founded on terrorism. However proud we may be of Washington, or glad we may be that the American revolutionaries fought England for independence, you cannot deny the FACT that from England's perspective, they were what today we would call terrorists. The people who lived in this country when Europeans got here, though to some degree also violent, would certainly have considered their own full-scale slaughter at the hands of the U.S. military, "terrorism." And the same with our government and slavery of Africans. Call it hyperbole, but in a way Al Qaeda has simply made a "Declaration of Independence" from U.S. power, IN THEIR VIEW. What I'm doing here is what Bennish was trying to do: offer valid alternative views of how others in the world have seen and now see America. This is a little thing called TEACHING. I listened to every second of the twenty minute (out of a 45 minute class!) tape...I mean, have you guys? He gives all sorts of disclaimers and caveats about the kids making up their own minds and not trying to get them to agree with him. I simply don't think Bennish, given the complexity of our world and the NEED to avoid indoctrinating our kids with "my country right or wrong" insanity (not teaching), was out of line at all. He was teaching. Almost HALF of the tape is him taking and responding to questions from the students, mostly the little deceptive liar who was recording him SECRETLY. His responses were zealous yes, but still respectful and considerate. If anything, he might have checked his subject matter through with the principal first. I heard he's keeping his job. Hooray for freedom.
Posted by: Bob on March 19, 2006 03:51 PM
Posted by: ColSamatoshi on July 27, 2006 08:51 PM