A substitute teacher in Virginia is out of the classroom after saying he supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, district officials confirmed Thursday. John Stanton, 65, was suspended by Arlington Public Schools Tuesday due to comments he made during an eighth-grade Spanish class on Friday at Swanson Middle School. “I said, ‘Here’s what’s going on,’” Stanton recalled. “The statement I think that got me was I said, ‘I personally support the logic of Putin,’ and what I meant by that is, he made a rational decision from his perception.”
I think if Stanton had taken the opposite stance and come down against Putin he would still have a job. For me the real issue is why is he offering his opinion as a substitute teacher in a class that has to do with a Spanish? This isn’t history. This isn’t Russian studies. He wasn’t asked his opinion. He took it upon himself to offer his opinion. I am sure from Putin’s perspective this is logical but I don’t know what that has to do with the price of borscht in Moscow or in this case Spanish.
Stanton went on to encourage students to get their information from varied sources. That’s perfectly acceptable but why is he talking about that in this class? Let’s get to the Donde esta el autobus? Why do so many people feel the need to share their knowledge or opinions when it is not asked for or in the proper setting? Sometimes less is more.
If this was a social studies class and they were covering World War One, World War Two, or the Cold War I’d think it was wrong to fire this teacher regardless of his particular opinion. In this scenario he would be showing how history can have a direct impact on current events. He would be in fact enhancing the curriculum and I would be all over the school for trying to “cancel” him. But in this case he just wanted to pontificate.
I think the school would do themselves a favor if they stated why Stanton was fired. As it is currently, it will seem to many that you can’t have a contrarian opinion. Many will applaud the school’s decision based on the disagreement with his opinion. That has a chilling effect on free speech. If the school says he was fired because the topic of conversation, which he initiated, was not appropriate for the class he was teaching free speech would not really be an issue here.
And one last thing. A student recorded what was going on in the class. Of course he did. If we are going to allow students to hit record whenever they feel like then just have cameras in the classrooms already. Let everyone know that what happens in class can be reviewed by the principal, parents, and law enforcement if need be. It seems to me that would be better than having youngsters perpetually trying to play gotcha with their cameras. And really if everyone knew they were being recorded I think that would cut down on a lot of stupid and inappropriate behavior in our classrooms that we seem to cover weekly.
We’ll discuss this on Tuesday at 6:30 PM Est and feel free to weigh in and vote on the Davin’s Den Twitter account.