That statement, scrawled by a teacher on a classroom whiteboard, is the center of a small firestorm in Kentucky.
South Laurel County High School teacher Kendra Baker is drawing complaints from parents and students after she wrote, “You can’t be a democrat and go to heaven.”
Superintendent Doug Bennett told the Sentinel-Echo that the class had been discussing politics around election day, and Baker wrote the statement — which is reportedly a student comment — on the board. The statement was not part of a formal curriculum or lesson plan.
“It should not be in the classroom at all,” Mary Gilbert, the mother of a South Laurel County senior told LEX18. “What happened, should not have happened…. You don’t send them to school to have someone else’s opinion shoved down their throat and demand they agree with it. It’s appalling. it’s wrong.”
Gilbert says that her daughter was ridiculed for trying to defend other students in the class, and no longer wants to go back to school, now opting to be home schooled. The mother says that the teen was subject to name calling and bullying, and she believes that her daughter was bullied by the teacher.
Upon investigation, district officials found the the teacher in violation of a district policy that charges teachers with the responsibility to maintain positive learning environments that are fostered by mutual respect and trust. Bennett says that Baker, who has been a high school teacher for 17 years, was reprimanded for her actions, but will continue teaching in her classroom.
“Our focus and mission is to do what’s best for our students, and teachers are expected to exercise reasonable and prudent judgement. The teacher made a mistake and I believe the teacher regrets that,” Bennett told the Sentinel-Echo, adding that while educators have the freedom to be politically outside of the classroom, the right does not extend to the work schedule.