Today’s teachers must navigate complex issues within the classroom, so it’s essential that each teacher is protected by the group and individual freedoms. Knowing a teacher’s rights and liabilities in the classroom may shape how you proceed as either an educator or a guardian.
1. Freedom of Speech
Like all other citizens, teachers are protected by the First Amendment. This means that teachers cannot be fired or otherwise reprimanded for having personal opinions on social, political, or other public matters. This freedom of expression does, however, come with certain limitations. A teacher should never deviate from the relevant class material.
2. Academic Freedom
Thanks to the First Amendment, the material that a teacher chooses to teach is equally protected by law. Though unlike freedom of speech, academic freedom is highly limited. A teacher should not share personal opinions or information with students. Courts may or may not recognize this protection depending upon various factors, such as student demographics and course guidelines.
3. Personal Privacy
In addition to classroom rights, teachers are protected against violations of personal privacy. Schools and school boards are not permitted to punish teachers for the lives they lead outside of the classroom. As with academic freedom, there are strict limitations. When a teacher’s external life starts to affect his or her job, disciplinary action may be pursued.
Educators are protected by a number of freedoms. Regardless of which side of the classroom you’re on, being aware of a teacher’s rights and liabilities in the classroom is a crucial step toward ensuring a smooth educational experience.