Education /

Oregon School Board Bans Employees From Displaying Political Symbols

While acting in their roles as school employees, educators are prohibited from displaying items that depict support or opposition for 'political, quasipolitical, or controversial' topics

A school board in Oregon has voted to prohibit district employees from displaying all types of political symbols.

Last month, the Newberg School Board banned educators from displaying Pride and Black Lives Matter symbols. The town, which has about 23,000 people and is southwest of Portland, was besieged by criticism following the decision. There were threats to boycott the town and its businesses.

Government officials, including Newberg city councilors and people of color on the Oregon Legislature, joined in the backlash. The Oregon State Board of Education said student identities should be welcomed and asked the Newberg School board to repeal its decision. 

On Tuesday, the board rescinded the measure and enacted a broader ban on political symbols in school.

Board Chair Dave Brown said, “We need to get moving back towards education. … We’ve been derailed for quite a while.”

Brown was part of the majority in the 4-3 vote that approved the new policy.

As it is written, the policy states, “No district employee shall, while acting within the scope of their employment, either during school hours, or inside their physical area of responsibility at a school (such as a classroom, meeting room, desk area) hang, post, erect, or otherwise display … any posters, signs, flags, banners, pictures or other digital or physical [images] that depicts support or opposition relating to a political, quasipolitical, or controversial topic.”

The board defined a controversial topic as one that “a professional educator could reasonably understand to have students on more than one side of said issue.”

The policy specifically allows exceptions in the case of First Amendment rights for students and employees.

“The flags of the United States of America and the State of Oregon are not prohibited by this policy,” nor are “union materials covered by collective bargaining agreements.”

After the vote on Tuesday, the board’s Vice Chair Brian Shannon voiced his desire to end discussions of the issue.

“This policy is so innocuous,” he said. “It just says that teachers can’t display political symbols at work while they’re on school time. I don’t want to spend five, six more minutes on this issue, let alone six more weeks.”

School Board Director Brandy Penner told reporters that Shannon’s view reflects those of a “white privileged male.”

“But it’s a really big deal to a lot of our community, and a lot of our staff, and a lot of our students,” she said.

In a post on Facebook, the Newberg Education Association wrote, “We cannot let this group of 4 impose their own political agenda, erode our rights, and strip our support of our students. Our educators are united in their goal to create classrooms where students can walk in and feel like they belong.”

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10 responses to “Oregon School Board Bans Employees From Displaying Political Symbols”

  1. dovy says:

    Good for you.

  2. Wolv256 says:

    TLDR: You should move and get a different job. You’ve made poor life choices.

  3. Rawdog says:

    OK, took me a minute…punctuation was a little off, which threw me for a minute. We need an emoji library built into the website. 😉

  4. jamessuraciart says:

    Wow. I live in OR and work at a community college (not a teacher) and just had a free speech victory on a very similar topic this past week.
    Here is what happened:
    The school I work at is enforcing Kate Brown’s latest mask mandate, so I decided to get some custom masks made (made by the finest Chinese slave labor money can buy on Amazon), one of which says “Fauci is a Liar” and I had worn it to work for a couple weeks with no issue. Then classes started again, and I wore it the first day, and then the next day before I got to work, I got a text from my lead telling me not to wear the Fauci mask, so I asked him “Why? It’s an objective fact. I don’t see the issue.” and he responded by saying that he would talk to me more about it when I came in, so I responded, “Well, I would rather have your reasoning in writing”, and he doesn’t respond, and after about a minute or two, I get a call from our superviser, and he tells me a teacher had seen the mask and complained, and that I can’t wear it even though he, personally, agrees with what the mask says, and I told him I would fight this and he told me if I showed up to work wearing it, he would have to have campus security remove me from the property and that my job would be in jeopardy. I pointed out that there are signs in break rooms all throughout campus stating that public employees have the right to free speech as long as they don’t endorse/condemn a particular political candidate/public office holder and that Fauci is not a politician, but rather just a federal employee and he made some excuse that because it was making a statement about a particular person it wasn’t allowed (despite the fact that I didn’t say whether I endorse or condemn him…it was just stating a fact), and he reiterated that he agreed, so I told him i would make a deal with him that, for now, I wouldn’t wear it, but he had to back me up complaining about all the communist propaganda that woke teachers have plastered up in their offices (which students could see during office hours) as well as public spaces around campus and he said if i sent him pictures of said propaganda he would back me on the issue and he said he would talk to HR the next day. So I sent him pictures of the various woke shit I have seen around campus, as well as the employee free speech statements posted by the college, and I wore one of the disposable masks the college provides and wrote “Free Speech’ in sharpie on it with quotes around the word ‘free’, went to a team meeting we had, where I waited for everyone to show up, then confronted my lead (the one who texted me prior to my supervisor calling) and asked him to follow up with me like he said he would and he tried pushing it aside and wouldn’t talk about it in front of everyone, and of course my woke coworkers had issues with me fighting for free speech, so I stormed out and did my work. The next day, before work, I call my superviser to follow up and see what HR said, and it turns out they emailed him saying they were going to ‘take a step back’ and for that day, they weren’t going to tell anyone what masks they can and can’t wear, and that HR would be having a meeting about it the next day….so I wore my Fauci is a liar mask again that day, then the following day when I got to work, I talked to my superviser, and he let me know the meeting went really well and that they decided they wouldn’t be censoring people (except for swearing for some reason). It’s obvious they knew that a lot of the office staff and the teachers would have to take a lot of their own shit down if they censored us non-woke people, so, at least for now, there is at least one small free speech victory in OR. Just figured I would share…there still is SOME hope.
    Also I want to thank Tim. I have always been very anti-censorship…kind of hard not to be after growing up in the 90’s seeing all my favorite musicians getting censored and them fighting back…however, I probably would have argued a bit, but would have eventually sucked it up and not worn the mask after my job was threatened because I really need my job and the health benefits I get, but I have been listening to Timcast IRL for a few months now, and with him constantly urging people to fight back, it was definitely inspirational and I want to give him a little bit of credit for this. I know he wasn’t involved in this at all, but his words definitely provided some motivation. Thank you Tim, and everyone else involved with Timcast!

  5. Wolv256 says:

    Ban school boards

  6. SpinyNorma says:

    It’s depressing that anyone, particularly those involved in the school system, are upset by this. These symbols have no place in a classroom. Makes me think of those old propaganda films for the Hitler Youth.

    As an aside, there’s an old article on the BBC’s site from February 22nd of 2013. It’s an interview with Lilo Furst-Ramdohr, a member of a group called the White Rose. I think about that interview a lot lately. I think the people at Timcast and other content-creators willing to put forth reality instead of the ridiculous nonsense those in power are trying to pass off as reality are today’s White Rose. May history merely rhyme this time.

  7. Johnli says:

    I hate political symbols in schools. Make me cringe everything I see one, it is hard to believe that someone sees a BLM symbol and is like omg I love BLM. I see it and I’m like looks fucking stupid.

  8. Masshole says:

    No. School is supposed to teach us to think critically, which is the exact opposite of indoctrination. If that is what you think school is then you are part of the problem, I don’t care which side you’re on.

  9. PetraTilling says:

    The public school system was created for express purpose of the indoctrination of the nation’s youth. Indoctrination IS its purpose. Originally, it was understood that the indoctrination would be that of patriotism and love of the nation because this was seen as a positive goal that would bring our nation together. Now, the popular culture has changed and so has the type of indoctrination in the schools. If parents do not agree with the current sentiments, their only choice is to pull their children from government schools until the culture changes. Those who say that indoctrination have no place in our schools, don’t understand how schools work.

  10. Wrath of Jen says:

    So, according to the Newberg Education Association, it’s pushing a political agenda to not allow agents of the state to push their political agenda on a captive audience of young, impressionable minds.