If you’ve seen any of the scandals in the news over the past few years when teachers soapbox for their political opinions on school campuses, you may have wondered whether it’s even possible for teachers to join political parties without drawing scrutiny for their political opinions.
Can teachers join political parties? Teachers can (and ideally should) join political parties to help promote their professional interests. Without progressive political movements, teachers and schools can’t receive the government funding they need to be well-supplied and able to teach their students effectively.
It can be beneficial for teachers to join political parties since it can help them become more involved in political matters that benefit teachers at large. ][
Still, it does come with some drawbacks and should be undertaken carefully.
Keep reading to learn more about the advantages of joining a political party for teachers and its potential drawbacks.
Teachers Can Do a Lot of Good in Political Parties
As the “boots on the ground” in the educational sector, teachers can act as important voices in progressive political parties to help spur reform and inform constituents about the problems that teachers face in the education system as the result of government defunding.
Without hearing these stories face-to-face, many people do not understand the difficulties that teachers have in keeping their students supplied and well-educated.
Even in more conservative political parties, teachers can do a lot of good by helping to espouse a centrist view concerning funding social welfare programs like education.
When teachers who are both moderate and conservative stand up for the educational system, this can make more conservative political parties aware of how their fiscal policies negatively affect the school systems.
No matter which political party they follow, teachers often bring a large set of skills that can be used by political parties to rally people to their cause.
Here are some of the skills that teachers bring to the table in political parties:
- Signage and posters: From grade school onwards, teachers develop a strong ability to decorate classrooms and come up with compelling signage and visual cues. This talent can work well for creating posters and other signage at political rallies and protests.
- Communication skills and social organisation: Many teachers are blessed with strong communication skills, including active listening in conversation and conflict resolution skills. This can make them useful in bringing together people from all walks of life to support the same political platform.
- Reading and writing skills: Many teachers can write essays and other persuasive materials that can be used to help persuade citizens to support a political party’s cause. Many teachers are also able to read and comprehend complicated legislation and summarise it more easily than the average citizen.
- Public speaking: Most teachers are used to public speaking (at least in groups of thirty or less), and this makes them uniquely positioned to address other people in a political party to help delegate tasks or run committees.
As educated citizens, teachers add some much-needed reason and discipline to political proceedings. So, even if you’re not that interested in politics, as a teacher, you can help keep political discourse smart and civil.
Advantages of Teachers Joining Political Parties
For teachers, there are many advantages to joining a political party. Here are a few of them:
- Camaraderie: It can be difficult for teachers to find groups of people that they relate to and can enjoy an intellectual conversation with outside of the workplace, especially if they work with young children. Joining a political party and becoming active with them can expose you to social circles you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and who knows—you might make lifelong friends! (Source: Vittana)
- Civil activism: Many citizens believe that voting and participating in the political process is one of the fundamental duties of a citizen, and joining a political party is a good way to ensure that you stay actively engaged with the political process. Otherwise, if all you ever do is vote, you may end up feeling pretty disconnected from the entire affair.
- Information: If you’re wanting to stay on the cutting edge of news related to current events and political goings-on, being in a political party can be one way to keep tabs on what’s going on in the world and the current government regime. Keeping an eye on all of the different political parties can also help you get a clearer picture of which ones have your interests in mind.
- The power of numbers: While you may not agree with everything a political party believes in, joining one allows you to pool your monetary resources in with other outliers to help combat special interest lobbyists and other oligarchical forces in the government.
If you’re wanting to make a difference politically, joining a political party is a surefire way to increase your influence as a political individual. A group of people voting together has more power and influence in political circles than individuals voting alone. (Source: The Mix) However, it does come with some disadvantages, too.
Disadvantages of Teachers Joining Political Parties
Teachers can gain a lot of advantages by joining a political party, but it also has its drawbacks.
Because of the nature of their job, teachers are not able to speak as freely about their political beliefs as people in other careers. This is because of the sensitivity surrounding children being politically influenced by their educators.
Here are some of the drawbacks of joining a political party as a teacher:
- Teachers can’t fundraise through a political party. Many school systems are forbidden from participating in political activities, so teachers aren’t able to use their workplace as a place to convert others to their political party or solicit them for funds.
- Teachers have to be careful about what they say in the classroom. While every teacher is free to practice their own political beliefs, bringing these beliefs into the classroom environment is not just dangerous for a teacher’s career, it can potentially be grounds for a lawsuit against the school system. All political activities that teachers participate in should be left outside the classroom to avoid public scrutiny and potentially being drummed out in a scandal.
- Teachers may draw hostility from parents or teachers of other political backgrounds. If a teacher is too vocal about their political opinions on social media (even if they don’t bring it up in a classroom), this can cause dissenting individuals to single the teacher out for censorship. Therefore, teachers must be careful what they post on personal social media timelines, as even an off-hand comment can be blown entirely out of proportion. (Source: Education Week)
- You may get hassled for donations or participation. A major drawback of joining a political party, whether you’re a teacher or not, is that once you do, you will constantly be contacted to try to drum up resources for the political party. (Source: Digital Spy)
Teachers make good additions to political parties, but because of the nature of their jobs, they must be more discreet—and level-headed—about presenting their political opinions than the average citizen.
They also must be more aware of when it is and isn’t appropriate to discuss politics so that they don’t get into trouble.
The safest thing for a teacher to do if they are supporting a political party or candidate is to avoid posting inflammatory messages on social media and avoid bringing up politics in the workplace but work hard within their party to help promote education as a whole.
Getting Political as a Teacher is a Good Idea
No matter what your political leanings, it is a good idea for teachers to be more politically active.
Their unique perspective on the world and a major aspect of society (and education) make them perfectly poised to sway the masses and influence progressive change.