Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Can A Teacher Tell Students Their Rights?

A social studies teacher in Illinois was punished for telling his students they have constitutional rights. Students at Batavia High school were given a 34-page survey that asked students about their use of illegal drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Nosy questionnaires like this have become common in schools and often ask for private information about students and their families. This kind of information is none of the school’s business and it has nothing to do with academics. A social studies teacher named John Dryden reminded his students that they have a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves. He said he wasn’t trying to tell them not to take the survey but wanted them to be aware of their rights and wanted to protect them, since some of the questions involved criminal behavior.

School administrators were angry about this, saying that Mr. Dryden “mischaracterized” the survey. The superintendent said that the teacher’s comments gave students the impression that teachers and administrators were not there to help them. On the other hand, Dryden received great support from students and parents. Nearly 100 students attended a board meeting to support him. An online petition gathered 6,000 signatures. Nevertheless, the district issued Dryden a formal reprimand and docked him a day’s pay.

Eagle Forum has been opposing these nosy questionnaires for years, and some states have passed laws preventing them. I am really appalled that a school is so hostile to students’ and parents’ rights that a teacher can be punished for telling his students about his constitutional right not to incriminate himself. Criminals are given their rights not to respond to nosy questions about criminal actions. But if you are a student at Batavia High School, you are not supposed to hear about your constitutional rights.

Listen to the radio commentary here:


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Jeff said...

Phyllis, you are 100% correct. Thank you for standing tall!

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