MESA, Ariz. – An Arizona mother called out her child’s school after a fourth-grade teacher created a gender-neutral Declaration of Independence for students to recite.
The unidentified teacher at Mesa’s Salk Elementary School put up a large poster with the introduction of the historical document in her classroom, but crossed out “men” and replaced the words with “human,” KGUN reports.
Mesa mother Elizabeth Vaillencourt wasn’t impressed with the teacher’s attempt to be “inclusive,” and took the issue up with school officials.
“I was hurt. I was mortified. I was disturbed at the fact that somebody is changing historical documents and nobody has the right to change our historical documents,” she told the news site. “You teach how it’s written. You don’t get to rewrite it and teach what you believe.”
KGUN noted several local controversies involving teachers injecting politics into the classroom, including an area educator who banned students from saying “bless you” when someone sneezes in class, and others who vent their frustrations with the president’s immigration policies with students.
“The teacher needs to remain neutral at all times,” said Vaillencourt, who shared the situation at Salk Elementary online.
“Zev’s teacher has this hanging in the classroom can anyone guess what’s wrong with this picture?” she wrote on Facebook with an image of the poster.
“Indoctrination is happening at Salk Elementary,” Vaillancourt wrote in another post.
“This is not up for debate I am trying to raise awareness for those like myself who agree and see the problem with what the teachers doing for those of you who did not get that far what she is doing is indoctrination you may be alright with her doing this but it is against board and school policy so therefore she was in the wrong.”
Vaillencourt alleged “this teacher also felt it was ‘a teachable moment’ when she shared with the class that she attended a protest of our President Donald J. Trump.”
“When I confronted the teacher she in fact believed this behavior to be within her rights,” she wrote, according to the Daily Mail.
The mother said her child was removed from the teachers class, but school officials said her social media posts “hurt the teacher’s feelings,” KGUN reports.
Kimberly LaPrade, dean of the College of Education at Grand Canyon University, said teachers should know better than to inject their own personal politics into the classroom.
“It’s about providing a conducive learning environment for all students,” LaPrade said. “As members of society, we have personal opinions, but it is really to speak to the curriculum. That really is not the place in the classroom.”
School officials agreed, and told KGUN they’re setting the teacher straight.
“It should be recited as written, and not modified in any way. School administration, when learning of the alteration to the text, provided feedback and guidance to the teacher to restore the document to its original format,” according to a prepared statement from Mesa Public Schools.
“There is not a specific reference in policy to the discussion of political beliefs by a teacher in the classroom, however in practice the district does not allow teachers to share their political views with students,” the statement read. “When the teacher used a personal example of how individuals can have differing political views but still be friends, the principal reminded the teacher that personal examples are not appropriate in a classroom setting.”