Partisan rhetoric rears its ugly head in the classroom

As college students, the phenomenon of a teacher abusing his authority to engage in long-winded political rants with little or no relevance to the subject matter is nothing out of the ordinary.

Unfortunate as it may be, we’ve grown accustomed to the fact that after years of isolation in their ivory towers, far too few educators are capable of comprehending the distinction between education and indoctrination.

In universities, it’s par for the course.

Jay Bennish, a tenth grade geography teacher in Aurora, Colorado, has been in the news recently after a recording of one of his lectures was made public by student Sean Allen.

This “lecture” consisted of a twenty minute anti-American, anti-capitalist rant conducted in a shrill screaming style comparable to a more laid-back Howard Dean, highlights of which include justifying the Sept. 11 attacks and the left’s favorite analogy:

Maybe if Bennish were a college professor instead of a high school teacher his loony left-wing ranting would have been viewed as just another day in class.

George W. Bush equals Adolf Hitler. Not surprisingly, Bennish’s diatribe had nothing to do with geography, unless the occasional name dropping of countries the United States routinely oppress qualifies.

Whether you agree with Bennish’s politics, it’s obvious to anyone who’s listened to the recording that Bennish’s uninformed grandstanding is an attempt to not educate or encourage debate among his students, but instead push his beliefs upon them.

Clearly this is a misuse of his authority and an abuse of the trust between teacher and student.

With proof that Bennish clearly violated district policy requiring balanced viewpoints in the classroom, he was disciplined with a week of paid administrative leave (in other words, a vacation,) and has since returned to the classroom.

Is it any surprise that Bennish got off with a slap on the wrist?

The Cherry Creek school district were more concerned with protecting one of their own then they were with the needs of their students.

In addition, the sympathetic mainstream media was quick to spin the story, portraying Bennish as an embattled upholder of free speech who was bullied and set up by his rabid right-wing student.

Hypocritically, Allen is chastised for egging Bennish on (despite the fact that Allen doesn’t speak up until roughly halfway through the recording).

At the same time, Allen claims that Bennish was only encouraging debate (exactly what Allen was engaging in while supposedly “egging him on.”)

Outside of talk radio and local press, the story was mostly ignored until a “walkout” was staged by 150 students in support of Bennish.

A “walkout” that occurred before the start of classes and was closely supervised by Bennish’s co-workers, but nonetheless rendered the story worth the mainstream media’s attention now that Bennish could be conveyed in a sympathetic light.

However, Sean Allen is quite obviously the hero of this tale.

Usually the media loves a whistle blower, and Allen’s exposure of Bennish as a ranting indoctrinating ideologue would certainly qualify him as such.

Allen has been steadfast in support of his decision to tape Bennish, and has appeared on several news outlets to defend himself, usually debating Bennish’s lawyer David Lane (the ACLU attorney who also defended the infamous Ward Churchill.)

Bennish on the other hand has only submitted to one softball interview on NBC’s Today Show.

Allen is not escaping this incident unscathed either.

While Bennish will remain at Overland High School, Allen has been forced to transfer, because of to various threats from his peers.

However, as much as the media loves underdogs crusading for justice, they also hate conservatives.

If the tables were turned and Allen recorded Bennish ranting about religion or the flat tax the media would be singing a different tune, Bennish would be vilified, not sanctified, and Allen would be presented rightfully as the hero he is.

Even though this story may appeal to have a lackluster ending, with Jay Bennish living to indoctrinate another day, Allen should be applauded for helping to raise an under reported issue to national intention.

There’s nothing a leftist loves more than a soapbox from which to preach and educate at all levels, provides plenty of these lofty perches. It would appear that it’s only a matter of time before kindergartners are being warned about the evils of the tyrannical Bush administration.

Something must be done, and Sean Allen has presented us with the perfect course of action.

Next time your professor hijacks class with his political platform, make sure to hit record on your MP3 player.

Send comments to Erik at [email protected].