Research News

Under the Law: Underwood examines rights of districts to control teachers' classroom speech

December 06, 2017
UW-Madison's Julie Underwood authored another "Under the Law" column for Phi Delta Kappan magazine, with her latest report examining teachers' classroom speech and the legal rights of school boards in determining what materials are appropriate for the classroom. 

Underwood is the Susan Engeleiter Professor of Education Law, Policy, and Practice at UW-Madison, and the former dean of the School of Education.

Especially when teaching political or controversial topics in classrooms, teachers face challenging such as the tension between delivering the classroom curriculum, abiding by board regulations about content and delivery, and sharing their own personal views.

In the column, Underwood discusses several court cases that have impacted how teachers are able to present curriculum, especially in regards with their own personal beliefs. These cases include Mayer vs. Monroe County Community School, in which the decision held that "the First Amendment does not entitle public school teachers to cover topics or advocate viewpoints that depart from the curriculum adopted by the school board."

To read Underwood's full breakdown of the policy surrounding this issue, visit: "School districts control teachers' classroom speech."