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Making Civics Real Workshop 7: Controversial Public Policy Issues  
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Workshop 7

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Teacher Perspectives: School administration and community

JoEllen Ambrose: I have never had issues with the administration on controversial topics because I think I’ve always had the methodology to back them up. I always feel that an administrator will say, “Are you presenting a balanced approach? How are you using your materials? Do you allow different viewpoints to come out?” I’ve never pushed the envelope to do something as controversial as one teacher in our district, who decided he would demonstrate what flag-burning meant and literally burnt the flag in front of the eighth-grade class. That may be an attention-getter--the very essence of that issue was right there--but it was very difficult for the community.

There’s a sense our community is fairly conservative. I have to really allow all students in my classroom to feel comfortable discussing these things from whatever value perspective they bring to it--recognize what the issue is, look at what values are behind the issue, and let them make judgments as to where that balance falls. I think as many values as promote patriotism can come out of a topic as those that would promote diversity or dissent. When we look at democratic issues, we look at both. I guess that’s part of the balance that you walk with different groups in our community that have strong opinions on these issues.


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