A 16-year-old boy at Overland High School doesn't want to hear what he calls his teacher's left-wing political rants.After listening to the whole tape, one feels the need to take a shower. Basically it's twenty minuets of leftist stream-of-consciousness diatribe attacking the usual suspects (capitalism, the war, the USA, the president). How Bennish’s rant communicates anything about geography escapes me. Yet this story isn’t about Bennish's choice in subject matter for his class or the truth and falsity of his claims. It's about an educational system where there are little or no checks on a teacher's pedagogical method.
Sean Allen frequently recorded his teachers to back up his notes. Allen recorded Jay Bennish, his 10th grade World Geography teacher, making comments about President Bush's State of the Union Address. [audio here]
Allen's father claims the comments made in the recording are biased and inappropriate for a geography class.
"I'm not saying Bush and Hitler are exactly the same, obviously they're not. OK? But there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use," says Bennish in his critique of U.S. economic and foreign policy.
Towards the end of the class, Bennish goes on to say, "I'm not in anyway implying that you should agree with me, I don't even know if I'm necessarily taking a position. But what I'm trying to get you to do is to think about these issues more in depth and not to just take things from the surface."
The Cherry Creek School District is conducting a thorough investigation of the complaint from the Overland High School parent and student concerning comments.
The school district says at first glance it does appear the teacher acted inappropriately at the very least.
A spokesperson for the Cherry Creek School District said they have placed Bennish on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. This is not a disciplinary action; the school district wants to remove him while they sort through the rest of the investigation.
How long has Bennish been teaching? What was his curriculum? Who approved it? What did Bennish’s tests look like? Why did it fall to a tenth-grader to show that Bennish’s classes were disconnected from the subject at hand—and reality? Where were the other parents, and what about their failure to provide the proper oversight of their children's education?
It's good that this one teacher has been caught with his proverbial pants down, yet I can't help but be reminded of the larger, more insidious problems that infect our educational system. Consider this story very much in play . . .
Update: Malkin is transcribing the tape here.
Update II: Bennish's students just walked out of his class to protest Bennish's suspension from teaching. Story here.