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Wisconsin teen says teachers bullying him over conservative views

Posted by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 2:31 PM
  • 74 Replies

Benji Backer


Apr 4, 2013

By Todd Starnes


A Wisconsin school district has launched an investigation into accusations that teachers have bullied and harassed a politically active conservative student.

Benji Backer, a 15-year-old student at Appleton North High School in Appleton, reported that he’s been subjected to name-calling, foul-language and classroom lectures that bashed Gov. Scott Walker and labeled Republicans as racist.

“They are harassing and bullying me, as well as indoctrinating other students,” Backer said.

The 15-year-old wrote about his allegations in great detail in an essay first published by FreedomWorks.

“My teachers have always talked about bullying, including bullying homosexuals and how wrong it is,” Backer wrote. “I agree 100 percent. They shouldn’t be bullied, nor should anyone else. But if homosexuals can get equal treatment, why can't I?"

“If teachers expect bullying to end with homosexuals, they should want it to end with every type of bullying possible, including political views,” he wrote.

Ben Vogel, an assistant superintendent for the Appleton school district, has launched an investigation into Backer’s allegations and they are taking it seriously.

“I’m always going to be concerned when a student comes and shares that they feel they are being treated unfairly in a classroom,” Vogel said. “We want all students to feel like they are safe at their school and in the individual classes.”

Backer’s allegations came during a period of time of great political unrest in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker was battling the teachers union and afterwards an unsuccessful recall petition.

Nevertheless, Vogel said that’s no excuse for teachers trying to indoctrinate students.

“We have school board policy regarding political activity in the classroom – when it’s appropriate and when it’s not appropriate,” he said. “We will follow up and make sure our teachers are doing what they need to be doing and if they’re not – then we will follow up accordingly.”

One of the more egregious episodes allegedly occurred in Backer’s English class. He said his teacher would use classroom lectures to rail against Walker – and soon – the teacher turned on the 15-year-old.

“He was swearing and saying how wrong it was for anyone to support Scott Walker,” Backer wrote. “Students were telling him to stop, and he wouldn’t.”

Backer was the Wisconsin co-chair for Young Americans for Mitt Romney. He was also featured in a USA Today story about the November election.

Backer said. “He went on to ask how much my parents made because he wanted to compare it to his salary.”

The same English teacher saw the article and video and pulled him aside. Backer said the teacher began criticizing not only Republicans – but also Backer’s dad – the owner of a small business.

“He started to talk to me about how much harder he worked compared to my dad, a small business owner, whom he had no knowledge of."

Backer said. “He went on to ask how much my parents made because he wanted to compare it to his salary.”

Later, I looked up this teacher’s salary. He had been making over $100,000 with benefits for the 2010-11 school year, the same year Walker's reform bill passed."

That incident prompted Backer and his parents to meet with the high school’s principal. The teacher later apologized - but then began cursing at the youngster.

BACKER2

Bruce Backer, Benji’s dad, said he was shocked by the altercation.

“We were surprised that politics was being brought into the school during classes that had nothing to do with politics,” Backer said. “We didn’t understand why there was a need to focus on Benjamin’s beliefs.”

Vogel said they were aware of the incident with the English teacher and “are very specifically following up on all the accusations and concerns.”

According to Backer, the bullying didn’t stop in English class.

Backer wrote that a substitute teacher in his government class told students that all Republicans are racists, claiming that "President Obama has been the most ill-treated president in the history of the United States, all because the Republicans don't want a black man in the White House."

Backer also said that his health teacher called him "weird" and "rolled his eyes" when he expressed support for the Tea Party. The teacher, meanwhile, admitted he knew nothing about the small-government group.

"This teacher then told me to explain, in front of the class why I supported the Tea Party, so I did," he wrote. "When I left the class, I thought about what had happened. Why was I being called 'weird?' Why was I being questioned so much? The simple truth reveals that some teachers want to obstruct and block my personal views from looking valid."

The high school freshman stated, “If a teacher would ask why someone was homosexual, Atheist, or Muslim, and called what they believed ‘weird,’ there would have been "serious consequences",” Backer wrote.

In some ways, the indoctrination has been subtle. Students in civics class are required to watch CNN Student News every day, for example.

In 2010 Backer’s political efforts were featured on the front page of the local newspaper. He said his geography teacher “would take me after school for a few minutes and tell me how stupid, wrong and misguided I was for being a Republican.”

Backer, who was then 12 years old, said the harassment was so bad he had to switch schools.

At his new school a substitute teacher in a music class showed the students a five-minute video about how great unions are and how bad Gov. Walker is.

Backer said it’s time for parents and school officials to get involved and stop teachers from turning their classrooms into indoctrination centers.

“A school should be a place students can comfortably and safely express their opinions,” Backer wrote. “If we want an educated Republic, we need to educate students in a fair and balanced way.”

Vogel agrees with that idea.

“Obviously we want students to be thinking and talking about current events,” he said. “But that needs to be done in a fair and balanced way. That’s not a means for a teacher to share specifically what their views are and try to indoctrinate students in a certain way.”

Backer’s father worries about other students who may feel intimidated by their teachers.

“Most students want to be liked by the teachers,” he said. “Many of them have relationships with the teachers and they don’t want to damage that.”

The 15-year old Backer wrote that young, impressionable students are slowly but surely being indoctrinated by teachers presenting a biased worldview.

He concluded by calling for an end to "one-sided" education.

"A school should be a place students can comfortably and safely express their beliefs, learn, grow and form their own opinions," he wrote.

Backer is not the only conservative student who has been targeted by liberal teachers.

In October, it was reported that a teacher attacked Samantha Pawlucy, a 16-year-old high school student at Charles Carroll High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for wearing a Romney t-shirt, comparing it to the KKK. 

Earlier in the year, a North Carolina high school teacher, Tanya Dixon-Neely, yelled at a student, telling him that he could be arrested for criticizing Barack Obama.



http://reason.com/24-7/2013/03/28/conservative-high-school-student-bullied

by on Apr. 4, 2013 at 2:31 PM
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Replies (1-10):
JanuaryBaby06
by Gold Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 3:29 PM
1 mom liked this

I doubt that it was as simple as he makes it sound the kids that i went to highschool like this (really set in there views, maybe slightly extreme) always came across very strongly and normally felt they had to explain everything and get defensiveand in the begining there wasnt a reason too but if you walk around on the defence eventually people will give you a reason to be defencive. But that being said nobody should be treated badly because of differenting opinions. Maybe him and his Teachers should have a sit down so that they can get on the same page.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 5:44 PM

You really should read the post before you respond to it. Good helpful hint.

I bet Benji Becker always does this. 

Quoting JanuaryBaby06:

I doubt that it was as simple as he makes it sound the kids that i went to highschool like this (really set in there views, maybe slightly extreme) always came across very strongly and normally felt they had to explain everything and get defensiveand in the begining there wasnt a reason too but if you walk around on the defence eventually people will give you a reason to be defencive. But that being said nobody should be treated badly because of differenting opinions. Maybe him and his Teachers should have a sit down so that they can get on the same page.



JanuaryBaby06
by Gold Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 5:58 PM

 

I am very sorry if i hit a nerve for you. Nobody deserves this type of treatment reguardless of  views, sorry if i didnt make that point strong enough. Im sorry i didnt realize i made him seem rude or disrespectful? I'm sure he is a great kid, most of the kids that get picked on, reguardless of reason, are. I missed where the teachers came out and said that they hated what he stood for though. Is there like a follow up article? Well, if he feels that way then him and his Teachers should have a sit down and clear things up, get on the same page.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I see - so this 12-15 year old was asking for abuse? Just as gay kids do? And abused kids at home? Kind of how women ask for rape?

Why don't you look up this kid yourself, and see how much of a behavioral problem this A student is, and how rude and disrespectful he is - you seem to think so anyway.

FYI, Benji has done volunteer work  in political campaigns and was in the local paper. So everyone knew he supported Gov. Scott Brown at his election, his controversial union law, and his reelection, not to mention the presidential and Congressional / Senatorial elections. The teachers don't think political volunteer involvement  is a bad thing - they just hate Benji's politics and what he  stands for. The teachers apparently think they can bully him because they are older than he, and he's just a kid. No kids complained about him, only about some of the same teachers.

And he even LEFT one school becaue he couldn't stand it. He didn't even tell his parents at first. And is now standing his ground and making his experiences public, so he does not have to suffer in the dark anymore.

You would be up in arms if this were a liberal kid treated this way. So you imagine that he must have been at fault. Kind of the way women and girls are supposedly at fault for rape by how they dress. And children of substance abusers are to blame for the substance abuse. Brilliant.

Geez - You are probably one of those who defend serial killers on the basis of being spanked as a child.

I thought "Children are our future." No???!

 

Quoting JanuaryBaby06:

I doubt that it was as simple as he makes it sound the kids that i went to highschool like this (really set in there views, maybe slightly extreme) always came across very strongly and normally felt they had to explain everything and get defensiveand in the begining there wasnt a reason too but if you walk around on the defence eventually people will give you a reason to be defencive. But that being said nobody should be treated badly because of differenting opinions. Maybe him and his Teachers should have a sit down so that they can get on the same page.

 

 


 

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 6:28 PM

I'm sorry -  I realized I needed to rewrite my response, and was hoping I could get it done in time, but you beat me to it!  :(

You missed the revised response I was editing at the same time. Please see the new one - I think you will like it better. Yeah - I was pissed, but I recovered. Editing can be a good friend and reality detector. :)

This is horrible! I taught school for awhile. I can't imagine any teacher doing this. It takes my breath away, that someone who supposedly loves kids can verbally and emotionally abuse one in this way.

There is so much detail in the article. You do need to read through the lines, in that you need to realize that all his teachers are unionized, Gov. Scott Brown (a Republican) wanted to be able to renegotiate the unions in order to save the state from going broke. So many of those teachers were probably of the opposite view as Benji. Sometimes you need to be quiet - especially when you otherwise are terrorizing a kid.

"Backer’s allegations came during a period of time of great political unrest in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker was battling the teachers union and afterwards an unsuccessful recall petition."

Look back at the article for examples in each of these categories:

English teacher

Government teacher

Health teacher

Geography teacher

Music sub


Other two:

- 16-year old yelled at by teacher for wearing Romney T-shirt; was told it's the same as being in the KKK.

-  High school student told by teacher that he could be arrested for criticizing Obama = slander. It's OK to say something negative about someone running for President, but not about someone who already is the president.

Quoting JanuaryBaby06:


I am very sorry if i hit a nerve for you. Nobody deserves this type of treatment reguardless of  views, sorry if i didnt make that point strong enough. Im sorry i didnt realize i made him seem rude or disrespectful? I'm sure he is a great kid, most of the kids that get picked on, reguardless of reason, are. I missed where the teachers came out and said that they hated what he stood for though. Is there like a follow up article? Well, if he feels that way then him and his Teachers should have a sit down and clear things up, get on the same page.

Quoting SallyMJ:


Quoting JanuaryBaby06:

I doubt that it was as simple as he makes it sound the kids that i went to highschool like this (really set in there views, maybe slightly extreme) always came across very strongly and normally felt they had to explain everything and get defensiveand in the begining there wasnt a reason too but if you walk around on the defence eventually people will give you a reason to be defencive. But that being said nobody should be treated badly because of differenting opinions. Maybe him and his Teachers should have a sit down so that they can get on the same page.








Kate_Momof3
by Platinum Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM
5 moms liked this

 Ten bucks says he was an obnoxious twit.

And no, that isn't an endorsement for bullying, Sally, so settle down.

Just like to toolbox at FAU and his refusal to stomp on Jesus, this "poor" kid isn't being bullied. He's probably being told to stfu and stop politicking in school.

I thought the homosexual references were a nice touch. Really drives home his need for tolerance and acceptance.

JoJoBean8
by Silver Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 6:35 PM
1 mom liked this

I would like to know both sides before I make a judgment but if this is all true all those teachers deserve to be fired. How are we ever going to get bullying under control if the teachers participate too?

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 6:41 PM
3 moms liked this

Sounds like you were not one of the well-behaved A students who was picked on in  jr high or high school, huh? Yupperoos, we absolutely deserved all of the unfair crap that came our way.

See, the problem with that last paragraph and your own quick views - is that we're not talking about students ragging on this kid; we are talking about the TEACHERS doing it. 

Take the same story, only change everything so that all the teachers are conservatives verbally and emotionally brow-beating a young liberal kid. Still think the kid is to blame? Why is your sense of justice so distorted, based on the victim's ideology? That's like blaming a woman for getting raped. Sounds absolutely Talibanesque and Sharia-esque to me.

Quoting Kate_Momof3:

 Ten bucks says he was an obnoxious twit.

And no, that isn't an endorsement for bullying, Sally, so settle down.

Just like to toolbox at FAU and his refusal to stomp on Jesus, this "poor" kid isn't being bullied. He's probably being told to stfu and stop politicking in school.

I thought the homosexual references were a nice touch. Really drives home his need for tolerance and acceptance.



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 6:44 PM

You don't really think those teachers will confess, do you?

If they DIDN'T do those things, they would step forward to clear their names, but they are not - so that tells you something.

And, ironically, it is very hard to fire someone in a union.


Quoting JoJoBean8:

I would like to know both sides before I make a judgment but if this is all true all those teachers deserve to be fired. How are we ever going to get bullying under control if the teachers participate too?



JoJoBean8
by Silver Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 6:48 PM
3 moms liked this

Just another reason why I feel that unions should be dissolved. 

Quoting SallyMJ:

You don't really think those teachers will confess, do you?

If they DIDN'T do those things, they would step forward to clear their names, but they are not - so that tells you something.

And, ironically, it is very hard to fire someone in a union.


Quoting JoJoBean8:

I would like to know both sides before I make a judgment but if this is all true all those teachers deserve to be fired. How are we ever going to get bullying under control if the teachers participate too?




Kate_Momof3
by Platinum Member on Apr. 4, 2013 at 6:51 PM
2 moms liked this

 No, you're totally right. I was not an A student and I was never picked on. Golly, Sally, you are so smart! I just laughed at the kids who made comments about my being raised by a single dad. HilARious! And that degree I earned from a top tier college? Total fluke!

You should really call yourself "Professor". You are that smart.

I have a very strong sense of justice, sweetheart. I am also not easily manipulated by publicity seeking politicking teenagers.

Quoting SallyMJ:

Sounds like you were not one of the well-behaved A students who was picked on in  jr high or high school, huh? Yupperoos, we absolutely deserved all of the unfair crap that came our way.

See, the problem with that last paragraph and your own quick views - is that we're not talking about students ragging on this kid; e are talking about the TEACHERS doing it. 

Take the same story, only change everything so that all the teachers are conservatives verbally and emotionally brow-beating a young liberal kid. Still think the kid is to blame? Why is your sense of justice so distorted, based on the victim's ideology? That's like blaming a woman for getting raped. Sounds absolutely Talibanesque and Sharia-esque to me.

Quoting Kate_Momof3:

 Ten bucks says he was an obnoxious twit.

And no, that isn't an endorsement for bullying, Sally, so settle down.

Just like to toolbox at FAU and his refusal to stomp on Jesus, this "poor" kid isn't being bullied. He's probably being told to stfu and stop politicking in school.

I thought the homosexual references were a nice touch. Really drives home his need for tolerance and acceptance.

 

 

 

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