UK teachers' unions demand ban on racist teachers

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Unionist
UK teachers' unions demand ban on racist teachers

[url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/8112747.stm]BNP teacher ban "is considered"[/url]

Quote:
A possible ban on teachers in England from being members of the British National Party is under consideration, a government spokesman has confirmed. [...]

The NASUWT teachers' union argues that belonging to the party is incompatible with "respecting ethnic, cultural and religious diversity".

It says a ban could follow the example of serving police officers who are not allowed to be BNP members - and says that such an exclusion could be achieved through an amendment to teachers' contracts.

Reminiscent of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Ross_(school_teacher)]Malcolm Ross[/url].

 

Unionist

Here's another try at that last link: [url=http://tinyurl.com/ncuk8s]Malcolm Ross[/url]

God I hate the software here.


Snert Snert's picture

Seems to me that Ross was actively creating and distributing anti-semitic literature.  That's different from simply being a member of a legal political party.  Criminalizing actions is a bit different from criminalizing beliefs.  Personally I'd love it if creationists were barred from teaching, but we have to settle for 'barred from spewing'.

Unionist

This has nothing to do with their beliefs. They can believe what they want. This has to do with the act of taking out membership in a neo-fascist party. No one who performs that act should be allowed anywhere near children in a school setting.

 

Snert Snert's picture

They used to say the same about homosexuals.  Oh well.  Go, thought police!  Keep us safe!

Unionist

Snert wrote:

They used to say the same about homosexuals.

Correct. And fascists and racists used to have free rein in our schools. Now we ban discrimination against homosexuals, and we ban the Malcolm Rosses from our schools. It's called progress.

 

Ghislaine

Interesting that unionist is no longer putting children in quotes....

Unionist

Ghislaine wrote:

Interesting that unionist is no longer putting children in quotes....

I only put "children" in quotes when someone uses the term to include 17-year-olds as well as late-term foetuses.

 

Ghislaine

Unionist wrote:

Ghislaine wrote:

Interesting that unionist is no longer putting children in quotes....

I only put "children" in quotes when someone uses the term to include 17-year-olds as well as late-term foetuses.

 

Incorrect - you put it in quotes to include 12 year olds.

oldgoat

Ghislaine I'm not seeing where in this thread unionist uses quotes as you describe.  Do you have a point?  If so make it, if not, stop derailing the thread with inane picayunities.

Ghislaine

sorry oldgoat, it was from another thread, where unionist refused to label 12 or even 14 year olds as children - however here he seem quite comfortable labelling them children in need of protection.

sorry for the drift.

Unionist

If Ghislaine were as worried about racist and fascist teachers as she is about 14-year-olds having sex, she might take a moment to comment on the topic here.

 

Caissa

Malcolm Ross, if my memory serves me correctly attended a mandatory PD event which Ms.C. was involved in coordinating on Holocaust education. Again if my memory serves me correctly, Josh Beutel was one of the presenters that day and displayed some of his editorial cartoons re. Ross. My memory could be faulty since this all took place before me and Ms. C. were married. The SCC is correct; teachers must be held to a higher standard.

abnormal

And that higher standard should relate to their actions, especially in the class room.  Banning membership in a particular political party, no matter how much you may abhor that party's beliefs, comes very close to attempting to legislate people's thoughts and opinions.

To use the example of creationism that someone brought up earlier (I agree, it's not as extreme as the BNP) banning membership in a political party is analagous to banning membership in a particular church because that church teaches beliefs that "we" don't share.  All you can do is insist that the teacher in question keep those beliefs out of the classroom.

Caissa

So abnormal are you arguing that freedom of association is absolute or at the very least that all individuals should have the same freedom of association rights?

Unionist

Abnormal, there's nothing wrong with being a creationist, as long as you teach the prescribed syllabus.

Or are you comparing that with being a fascist?

I think our social norms provide good guidance on that score.

Anyway, this isn't about "freedom of association" - it's about qualifications for teaching. We don't let pedophiles teach, even if we don't catch them practising their "beliefs" in class.

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Banning membership in a particular political party, no matter how much you may abhor that party's beliefs, comes very close to attempting to legislate people's thoughts and opinions.

And if British teachers were being removed from teaching for their belief in Stalinism, you'd hear applause right now. In fact, wasn't this same sort of thing done with Communism, back in the 50's? How'd that work out? Was it a big success? Did it do anything other than ruin some careers?

Freedom of thought can be such an incredibly inconvenient principle. So inconvenient that even self-described progressives are happy to leave it at the door sometimes.

Quote:
We don't let pedophiles teach, even if we don't catch them practising their "beliefs" in class.

That's correct, because we have valid concerns that they could physically molest children.  What's the equivalent here?  Presumably the school system is set up to deal with racist teachers who are NOT members of the BNP... can someone suggest a good reason why the same safeguards wouldn't suffice when a teacher IS a member?

Unionist

The teachers themselves have demanded that these scummy Nazis be banned from the schools. I personally would deprive them of far more than the right to teach. You want someone publicly associated with neo-fascists teaching your children? Hire a private tutor. The Supreme Court of Canada got it right, and so did the UK teachers' unions.

 

Ghislaine

I agree with this motion. It is similar to being a member of the KKK, which should also get a teacher fired. The BNP specially refuses to have members who are not white. Considering some of their policies in regards to send non-whites "home", they are most definitely a danger to children in their classes (which much to their chagrin are becoming less and less white in Britain).

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
 I personally would deprive them of far more than the right to teach.

 

Why not deprive them of the right to belong to the BNP, by outlawing the BNP?

 

I'm not being facetious. If the BNP is that odious that a person cannot be a member and also hold a job, why does it continue to exist?

 

At least by making the BNP illegal, you'd be consistent in denying teachers the right to a job if they choose to belong to the (now) illegal party.

 

But there's something really illogical about barring someone from belonging to a legal political party. And whether you, personally, feel it's a small price to pay, I think going down the road of firing teachers for their legal political beliefs outside of the classroom is a pretty obvious slippery slope.

al-Qa'bong

I'd like to hear the NASUWT teachers' union's views on how English history is taught in British schools.

sanizadeh

Unionist wrote:

Anyway, this isn't about "freedom of association" - it's about qualifications for teaching. We don't let pedophiles teach, even if we don't catch them practising their "beliefs" in class.

But one is marked as a pedophile typically because of a crime involving children. This criminal record makes him ineligible. As long as BNP is a legal party in England, on what grounds people could be punished for joining it? For example, in Canada could one ban members of communist party from teaching too? I certainly doubt that. You implied there was a supreme court precedent. Does it allow restriction on people for joining a legal political party?

 

Unionist

sanizadeh wrote:
As long as BNP is a legal party in England, on what grounds people could be punished for joining it?

On the same grounds that BNP members are not allowed to be police in the U.K.

Quote:
For example, in Canada could one ban members of communist party from teaching too? I certainly doubt that.

Communism = racism and fascism? Sure, if you think so, then this discussion is over. I'm not smart enough to teach people that the whole world allied to destroy racism and fascism. You either know it or you don't.

Quote:
You implied there was a supreme court precedent. Does it allow restriction on people for joining a legal political party?

I didn't "imply" anything. I made reference to the Malcolm Ross case. Why don't you [url=read">http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/1996/1996rcs1-825/1996rcs1-825.html][co... it for yourself[/url] rather than have me interpret it for you?

Teachers must be held to a higher standard than bank managers or millwrights. Teachers who allow themselves to be publicly associated with racist and fascist organizations should be drummed out of the school system. That's my opinion, and I'm quite gratified that that's the state of the law in Canada to the best of my knowledge.

 

Unionist

Snert wrote:

But there's something really illogical about barring someone from belonging to a legal political party.

Read more carefully. No one is proposing barring anyone from belonging to any party. They're proposing to bar them from TEACHING.

Quote:
... I think going down the road of firing teachers for their legal political beliefs outside of the classroom is a pretty obvious slippery slope.

Read more carefully. No one is proposing barring anyone for their political beliefs.

Why not have a read of the Malcolm Ross decision and see what it is you're disagreeing with.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
No one is proposing barring anyone from belonging to any party. They're proposing to bar them from TEACHING.

Riiiight. They can feel free to be members of the party, so long as they're able to photosyntesize nutrition for themselves, or print money.

I'm guessing that the reality is that any teachers who are members will have to let their membership lapse. At which point they'll be perfectly qualified to teach Britains kids!

Quote:
Why not have a read of the Malcolm Ross decision and see what it is you're disagreeing with.

I already know what I'm disagreeing with.  I'm disagreeing with barring someone from teaching based on their political opinion.  And  describing belonging to a political party as some kind of "act", akin to Ross' authorship and distribution of materials doesn't make beliefs = acts.

I have to assume that the British school system has some process for dealing with racist teachers who aren't members of the BNP.  So I ask again how it is that that process cannot be effectively used for dealling with those teachers who are.  If you don't have a logical answer, or you can't bring yourself to say "well, I suppose it could" then feel free to say so.

Unionist

Snert wrote:

I have to assume that the British school system has some process for dealing with racist teachers who aren't members of the BNP.

I hope not. If all "racist teachers" are barred, there will be none left. I think the problem is those who publicly espouse that racism, whether in or out of school, whether by burning crosses or by publicly associating with a neo-fascist party. It has nothing to do with your brain or your beliefs.

Quote:
So I ask again how it is that that process cannot be effectively used for dealling with those teachers who are.  If you don't have a logical answer, or you can't bring yourself to say "well, I suppose it could" then feel free to say so.

I'm not sure what "process" you're talking about. If a teacher goes on TV and advocates that immigrants of colour should be sent back "home", then I would think there's a complaint process which would drive that scum out of the school. I think the teachers' unions are simply requesting that public association with a neo-fascist party be treated in the same fashion.

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
I'm not sure what "process" you're talking about.

 

I'm assuming that if a teacher stands up in front of the class and says "White people are smarter than brown people", there's a process in place for dealing with that, whether it's a suspension, a firing, a letter on record, mandatory training, or all of the above.

 

I'm not following why that's not sufficient for a teacher who's a member of the BNP.

 

I get the sense that existing processes are insufficient because they can only deal with actions, not thoughts. A teacher actually has to do something, as opposed to simply believing something.

 

I wonder, though: do you agree that those half-wits who publicly associated themselves with other totalitarian organizations, like, say, Stalinism, also deserved to lose their jobs back in the 50's? I mean, were we onto something back then when we ferreted them out? Stalin is responsible for how many million deaths again?? Surely anyone who could support such a killer would fall under the same category as a BNP member, yes?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

First of all, joining the BNP is not simply expressing an 'opinion'. It is, of course, a statement declaring oneself in goosestep with a fascist and racist ideology, but it is also a declaration of allegience, solidarity and mutual support with a political force intent on earning a measure of influence over the domestic and local spheres of control. I believe what the union is saying is that declaring oneself a member of the BNP (whose malice and threat cannot be exaggerated) is tantamount to calling a child a racist epithet or teaching holocaust denial in the classroon. Essentially, it is updating and particularizing the protocols Snert is claiming are sufficient: joining the BNP is a racist act, therefore, BNP members cannot be teachers.

I also object to the rhetorical trick of calling joing the BNP a 'political' decision. It is disarming and disingenuous. As if joining the BNP was the same as joing the Tories or the Whigs. As if declaring oneself part and parcel of an enunciated project to rid the nation of immigrants, villify Muslims locally and abroad, and send jackbooted thugs out to indimidate anyone who dares point out the raw sewage that flows underneath every BNP statement and press release. Surely this is political, but not in the same way the Liberal Party of Canada is political (the usage at work in this verbal sleight-of-hand) but in the way politics work in real life, in racism, in class and in foreign policy. That is to say, in life and death.

Unionist

Thanks for the reality check, Catchfire.

[url=Here">http://www.nasuwt.org.uk/Whatsnew/NASUWTNews/PressReleases/GTCcasehighli... is a statement[/url] issued in February by the NASUWT:

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The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, will be participating in a two-day rally  on 10 and 11 February in Birmingham to protest against  the British National Party’s (BNP’s) support for a teacher  accused of distributing racist material on a school computer.

The teacher, who is also a BNP member, is due to appear before the General Teaching Council (GTC). At his previous hearing in November, BNP members demonstrated in his support.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“The NASUWT is committed to promoting racial harmony in our schools and communities and to protecting the workforce and children and young people from the damaging effects of discrimination. 

“The NASUWT was the first trade union to press ministers to amend the teacher’s contract to bring it into line with the police, prison service and armed forces, to prevent all those who declare their affiliation to the BNP and other far-right and fascist organisations from working in the teaching profession.

“In fact, we would go even further and prevent them from working in any public services.

“The views and beliefs of those who are active in the BNP are completely incompatible with the ethos and purpose of public services.

“No right-minded person would want those who perpetrate or support their vile agenda nursing the sick, teaching children and caring for the elderly.

“This case before the GTC demonstrates the urgent need for the contractual change for which the NASUWT is campaigning.”

sanizadeh

Thanks for the information, unionist. I have clarified my points in the following:

Unionist wrote:

On the same grounds that BNP members are not allowed to be police in the U.K.

Thanks. I was not aware of that. I wonder if any BNP member has tried to challenge that discriminatory ban in the court and lost?

Quote:

Communism = racism and fascism? Sure, if you think so, then this discussion is over. I'm not smart enough to teach people that the whole world allied to destroy racism and fascism. You either know it or you don't.

My point was that once the principle of freedom of association with a legal party is broken, then next time someone else might extend it to others. Fascists always start their oppression by targetting a despised group forst. I am not too keen on relying on the whole world or the majority to protect individual rights: there was a time when the majority in the US strongly believed that communism was more evil than racism. That did not make it right.

Quote:

I didn't "imply" anything. I made reference to the Malcolm Ross case. Why don't you [url=read">http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/1996/1996rcs1-825/1996rcs1-825.html][co... it for yourself[/url] rather than have me interpret it for you?

Thanks for the link. It seems to me that the Malcolm Ross case was about illegal racist actions that he had taken, not membership in a legal party. I have no problem with the concept that illegal actions may disqualify a teacher from teaching. If BNP is promoting illegal views, it should be banned first.

Unionist

sanizadeh wrote:
It seems to me that the Malcolm Ross case was about illegal racist actions that he had taken, not membership in a legal party.

Absolutely wrong. Ross was never blamed for committing any "illegal actions". That would have made the whole case trivial.

Action was taken against Ross because his off-duty writings and activities (Holocaust denial, accusing Jews of a worldwide conspiracy, calling on Christians to resist them, etc.) had created a poisoned atmosphere in the school division and an unwelcoming environment for Jewish students among others. The decision was to stop him from teaching but hold open the possibility of a non-teaching position. He complained, claiming his freedom of speech, religion, and association were infringed. The Supreme Court ruled against him - as did the U.N. Human Rights Committee where he took his case afterwards.

You can read a summary description of the events, and the dismissal of his complaint by the U.N., [url=here[/url]">http://agora.virtualmuseum.ca/edu/ViewLoitDa.do?method=preview&lang=EN&i....

All this (the Malcolm Ross and the more recent Paul Fromm cases) were discussed in detail in a now-disappeared babble thread, of which unfortunately only [url=a">http://www.rabble.ca/babble/anti-racism-news-and-initiatives/fromm-and-r... follow-up thread survives[/url].

 

KeyStone

This is a complex issue.

The fact of the matter is that this is an attempt to remove those with 'incorrect thought' from teaching children. The action of having membership in the BNP is simply  proof of that thought. There is something fundamentally wrong with punishing people for their political beliefs, no matter how vile they are. Eighty years ago, someone might have proposed banning all teachers who supported abortion, and the idea would likely have been greeted with thunderous applause.

However, teachers are slightly different than construction workers or plumbers, for two key reasons:

1) They guide and instruct the children. Obviously, these are not thoughts that we want passed on to the children. These teachers can not be monitored all the time.

2) Even if the teachers do not spew these ideas, there is a realistic chance that they will favour the white children. Studies have shown that teachers have favoured male students in the past, and corrective action has been taken to remedy this. It seems quite likely that an individual advocating for the removal of non-whites from the UK would likely show less interest in non-white students.

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

1) They guide and instruct the children. Obviously, these are not thoughts that we want passed on to the children. These teachers can not be monitored all the time.

 

That's why this is such an elegant solution. By forcing teachers to let their BNP membership lapse, those teachers' thoughts and beliefs will become progressive. Problem solved.

sachinseth sachinseth's picture

keystone is right it is a complex issue. its more complicated than simply outlawing BNP supporting teachers. i didn't know the same rule applied to police officers there. that's good.

Ze

Quote:
The fact of the matter is that this is an attempt to remove those with 'incorrect thought' from teaching children.

Surely it's an effort to protect children and prevent the classroom from becoming a space that permits or endorses racism? 

sanizadeh

Ze wrote:

Quote:
The fact of the matter is that this is an attempt to remove those with 'incorrect thought' from teaching children.

Surely it's an effort to protect children and prevent the classroom from becoming a space that permits or endorses racism? 

To me it is like banning muslim teachers (regardless of how practicing they are) from classrooms to save children from the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism. If a teacher is violating his role by permitting or endorsing racism in the class, fire him. Otherwise, membership in a legal political party is not sufficient criteria in my humble opinion.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

What? So BNP members are moderate fascists stained by the extreme actions of a few who take fascism too far? Really, I don't think that babblers here understand what the BNP actually is. It's not your grandfather's GOP. It's the fucking Nazis.

sanizadeh

Catchfire wrote:

What? So BNP members are moderate fascists stained by the extreme actions of a few who take fascism too far? Really, I don't think that babblers here understand what the BNP actually is. It's not your grandfather's GOP. It's the fucking Nazis.

I am probably not very informed about BNP. If it holds nazi-like views, why is it not banned yet?

Caissa

There website is BNP.org.uk for anyone who wants to check it out. I'm loathe to do so myself.

Unionist

sanizadeh wrote:

I am probably not very informed about BNP. If it holds nazi-like views, why is it not banned yet?

Sanizadeh, what do you mean by "why is it not banned yet"? You want to "ban" parties or individuals for their views? In Canada, we ban only organizations deemed as "terrorist" because of their actions (although those designations are often political and unjustifiable - e.g. Hezbollah), and sometimes criminal gangster organizations. What organization has been banned in Canada in recent history because of its views? They used to ban the communist party, but that ban was lifted decades ago. The Canadian Nazi Party and others of that ilk were never "banned", to my knowledge.

We're talking in this thread about not allowing racist and fascist thugs and scum to teach in the public school system - not "banning" organizations. You seem reluctant to throw these creeps out of the classroom, but more inclined to ban organizations outright. I don't get it.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Well, sanizadeh, I'd expect it's because it is not illegal to hold fascist views. The teacher's union wants to make sure that these legal but odious views don't make it into our classrooms. Incidentally, the above action is not a question of jurisprudence--it is a question of those in charge of our children's education choose to exercise that stewardship. I'd say forbidding fascists is a good first step.

Snert Snert's picture

They currently hold two seats in the European Parliament, as well as municipal council seats in Britain. 

sanizadeh

Unionist wrote:

Sanizadeh, what do you mean by "why is it not banned yet"? You want to "ban" parties or individuals for their views? In Canada, we ban only organizations deemed as "terrorist" because of their actions (although those designations are often political and unjustifiable - e.g. Hezbollah), and sometimes criminal gangster organizations. What organization has been banned in Canada in recent history because of its views? They used to ban the communist party, but that ban was lifted decades ago. The Canadian Nazi Party and others of that ilk were never "banned", to my knowledge.

We're talking in this thread about not allowing racist and fascist thugs and scum to teach in the public school system - not "banning" organizations. You seem reluctant to throw these creeps out of the classroom, but more inclined to ban organizations outright. I don't get it.

Thanks for the clarification. I just found it surprising that a fascist party could have permission to operate in a European country. But now I remmeber there was once such a party even winning the election in Austria, so it is obviously not without precedent. I do have some concern regarding the propose ban from classroom because of the guilt by association issue.  However in my opinion if a BNP individual member personally engages in promotion of any illegal activity such as acts of discrimination or racism then there could be valid grounds for his dismissal depending on the circmstances. As you said, my position may not be exactly in line with the general world view in eliminating hatred and racism, but as you know because of past experiences I have long been a fanatic on freedom of speech issues.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
The teacher's union wants to make sure that these legal but odious views don't make it into our classrooms.

 

How do they do this when the views don't originate with BNP membership?

And why is whatever they ordinarily do insufficient, in the case of BNP membership?

Quote:
As you said, my position may not be exactly in line with the general world view in eliminating hatred and racism, but as you know because of past experiences I have long been a fanatic on freedom of speech issues.

 

This is more like a "freedom of thought" issue. Certainly no teacher, whether a member of the BNP or not, has any right to spew hatred in the classroom, but this isn't about them opening their mouths and speaking. It's about them potentially thinking

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Joining a fascist party is a fascist action. It is not a thought. It is difficult to discuss anything with you if you insist on caricaturing every response to your inanity.

Snert Snert's picture

In the same way that "joining" the Communist Party, or "supporting" the Communist Party or even "sympathizing with" the Communist Party were all "actions" in the 1950's.

That's why nobody would ever suggest that Commies were hounded for their political opinions... it was their ACTIONS.  Right?

Well, welcome to 1952.  Feel free to have politcal opinions, so long as they're the right ones (and so long as you acknowledge that "having" is an action).

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Are you equating fascism with communism? Such an equation is intellectually immature to say the least.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

Are you equating fascism with communism? Such an equation is intellectually immature to say the least.

 

Only in the context of dead bodies. Ideologically very different, yes, except when it comes to mass graves and the like.

 

But as you say, joining and supporting are actions which can have consequences! I fear we may have done Sen. McCarthy's memory a great disservice.

abnormal

So who exactly gets to decide which political parties/churches/religions/whatever are so offensive that that the simple act of joining them should be verbotten?

Slumberjack

Among other things, the BNP and the Nazis seem to share a fondness for large flags:


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Well, I guess, abnormal, it would be the Teachers' Union, about whom this thread is concerned.

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