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Rights of Teachers

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Discuss three to five United States Supreme Court decisions that have affected teachers' rights and responsibilities. How did these decisions affect the ability of your school administration to lead within your educational community? Give examples from your own teaching experience where appropriate.

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SUPREME COURT DECISIONS ON TEACHER RIGHTS

QUESTIONS
A. Discuss three to five United States Supreme Court decisions that have affected teachers'
rights and responsibilities.
Answers:
1. Freedom of Speech.

The rights of Speech of teachers are governed by the same principles applied to other government employees. When the government acts as employer, it may impose rules and regulations on employees that affect their speech rights on work-related matters. For example, in government-funded health programs, the government may instruct its personnel to provide advice about family planning services, but not about abortion. Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991). Public employees do not lose these First Amendment rights entirely, however, and are generally protected when they speak on matters of public concern in their capacities as private citizens. Waters v. Churchill, 511 U.S. 661 (1994).

Applied in educational administration, teachers are protected of their speech rights on matters of public concern only but not on matters of private concern. In Pickering v. Board of Ed., 391 U.S. 563 (1968), the Supreme Court held that a school board violated a teacher's free speech rights when it dismissed him for writing a letter that criticized the school board's allocation of funds between academic and athletic programs -- a matter of public concern. Also in Cockerel v. Shelby County School District, 270 F.3d 1036 (6th Cir. 2001), a federal court held unconstitutional a school's termination of a teacher for inviting a guest speaker into the classroom to educate students on industrial hemp. However, the Supreme Court in Waters v. Churchill, 511 U.S. 661 (1994) concluded that the discharge of a public hospital employee was constitutional where the employee had criticized her supervisor and discouraged transfers into her department because this was considered one of a private concern.

2. Academic Freedom

Higher education teachers' academic freedom interests are sometimes understood as freedom to make their own decisions about the content of the curriculum and research. In Urofsky v. Gilmore, 216 F.3d 401 (4th Cir. 2000) (en banc) the the court has held that even in the higher education context, academic freedom is a right that inheres in the institution, not the individual teacher. More particularly, this applies among public high school teachers. In Boring v. Buncombe County Board of Education, 136 F.3d 364 (4th Cir. 1998), ...

Solution Summary

A discussion of US Supreme court decisions on Teachers' Rights: Freedom of Speech, Academic Freedom, Rights of Pregnant Women

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