Rumor has it that the word has come down from our school district’s central administration that principals should not talk to parents (or anyone) about the proposed diversity policy being considered by the school board—even in response to questions—or that if they do, they should stay on the script provided by the district.
We must be protected from hearing the actual thoughts and opinions that our school employees have about a proposed policy change—for our own good!
If the rumor is true, I’m hoping that the district at least had the sense to confine that directive to remarks made on school grounds or using school channels of communication. Public employees, of course, have a constitutional right to express their opinions about issues of public concern. Somehow, though, if I were a school principal—even more so if I were a teacher—I’d feel very reluctant to speak out about this policy, and would fear employment repercussions for doing so. Closely policing staff members for “against the rules” speech will inevitably chill protected speech, too.
It’s not just the speaker who suffers in that circumstance: the public suffers because of the information that is withheld from it. What is the harm that the district is trying to prevent that justifies chilling the flow of information to the public about a proposed policy?
Related post here.