Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DISD Violates a Teacher's Civil Rights

The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) has recently been shutting down exemplary schools (while keeping open the worst ones) and has also decided to extend teachers' work days by 45 minutes (not to provide 45 minutes more education for students, but rather for more pointless meetings that accomplish nothing and from which nobody learns anything -- if my experiences are typical), which has had teacher's protesting the actions. In Texas, it is illegal for teachers to go on strike, so protests, letters and emails are all teachers are really left with.

Now, in the U.S., one of our rights as citizens is the right to petition our government for a redress of grievances (Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution). This includes not only federal officials, but all elected officials. It should thus concern us that a DISD teacher, Joseph Drake, was put on "administrative leave" an hour after sending a critical email to Edwin Flores, a school board member. In other words, it appears that Drake was punished for expressing his opinion as a citizen to a board member. That is retaliation, and an abuse of power. Everyone involved in the decision should be removed from office and imprisoned for corruption and violating Drake's civil rights. Yes, imprisoned. Unless we treat people like this as the criminals they are when they violate citizens' civil rights, we can only expect more of this sort of corrupt behavior to occur. Our elected officials should be too scared to even think about such violations, and treating them like the criminals they are is the only way to do that.

More, it should not be illegal, as it is in Texas, to protest government working conditions. Certainly teachers make a pretty good living here in Texas -- better than do most teachers in most other states -- and that is probably in no small part because of the weakness of the teachers' union, but that's really not the point. A strike is a form of protest (typically against working conditions, unfair treatment, etc.), and by prohibiting striking by their own employees, the Texas government is violating the 1st Amendment. (If the state of Texas does not like teachers to be able to strike, they should privatize all the public schools, and then the private schools can prohibit striking by firing anyone who does.) We should thus not be surprised that Flores and the DISD board thinks they can violate Drake's civil rights at will, since such violation is already law in Texas. But that hardly means any of the guilty parties should be allowed to get away with it.
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