Opinion | Conservative Voices in the Classroom Must be Heard

In all forms of education, an open dialogue within the classroom is necessary for students to truly learn.


Are certain students being silenced—directly or indirectly—for their political views? (Credit: Claudelle Girard)

North High is justifiably proud of its ever-increasing inclusivity and tolerance, but is this pursuit of acceptance actually a pursuit of conformity? It is undeniable that the school suffers from political polarization, with the student body—by most accounts—skewing to the right and the staff being predominantly liberal. When presented with this fact, a simple question arises: how does this impact discourse and the opinions expressed in classes? 

Junior Shifan He conveyed the sentiment that “conservative voices or opinions are often marginalized in classrooms,” with the left-leaning teachers “often dictating the expressed opinions in class.”

Although conservative opinions are never outright banned in class, students are compelled to remain silent for a variety of reasons. “There is a general attitude of disrespect toward some of my peers with more conservative views,” sophomore Josh Schoenman said. Rather than defining a belief as right or wrong, he believes “respectful dialogue that includes people with all views [should be promoted] to rationalize [opinions].” 

Beyond the teacher-student dynamic, the expectation to “fit in” with how the class thinks plays a role in silencing right-leaning opinions. “It takes guts to give a conservative opinion,” senior Sam Berchansky said. “And if you happen to do so and it is taken as offensive or not with the norm, the room just gets tense. No one will yell at you or scream at you, but people will look at you funny and act like they are so surprised by what you said.”

In addition to the social expectation and academic pressure, all three of these students claimed that the conservative perspective is rarely taught or mentioned in class, and when it is, it is often misrepresented. Echoing the sentiments of his peers, junior Jack Kareff said that there have been instances where “teachers just [put] forth their own view and [present] it as the norm.” 

Fortunately, the “vast majority of teachers do their best to present non-biased points and allow people to formulate and express their own opinions,” Kareff said. “So while I have definitely seen a marginalization of conservative viewpoints, I don’t think it’s all that prominent.”

In all forms of education, an open dialogue within the classroom is necessary for students to truly learn. Without these discussions, education is nothing more than indoctrination as students are taught what to think rather than how to think.