Lawmaker proposes bill to limit political advocacy by teachers in classrooms

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A public hearing was held Thursday on a bill to limit teacher political activism in classrooms.

Sponsored by Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Bradley, the bill would have rules drafted to prohibit K-12 teachers from "engaging in political ideological, or religious advocacy" in classrooms.

He cited examples in his testimony of what he says is liberal bias in schools across Maine.

"The purpose is just to reaffirm that the teacher's job is to teach kids how to think, not what to think," said Bradley. "So when it comes to these controversial, partisan issues, we can have a vigorous discussion in the classroom over those issues, but the teacher needs to give both sides, and the teacher frankly needs to leave their opinion out of it."

Opponents say if the bill passes teachers' ability to teach and the First Amendment would be infringed upon.

"This bill is neither liberal nor conservative," said Lewiston High School teacher Rachel Nadeau. "It is fascist. Not unlike Hitler's unsuccessful attempt at controlling everything the media communicated and everything teachers could and could not say in schools. And we all know how that story turned out."

The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will continue to work on the bill next week.