Recent events indicate that White students are taking advantage of White privilege by using Nazi propaganda as a way to voice their political views. Schools are caught in a comprising position as to how to prevent these types of activities from disrupting the school culture that they work so hard to cultivate. Schools can use several strategies to ensure that the usage of student Nazi propaganda does not dominate the school learning environment.
Recently, the Wisconsin Barbaroo School District male student class of 2019 took a junior prom picture that allegedly shows dozens of students giving the Nazi salute. Since the surfacing of the photo the twitter account in question has been transformed from public to private. This means that only followers of that account can view the photograph.
Lori M Mueller, who is the superintendent of the Barbaroo School District addressed that challenge in a tweet that stated:
- The photo of students posted to #BarabooProud is not reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District of Baraboo. The District will pursue any and all available appropriate actions, including legal, to address.
The superintendent appropriately addressed the Nazi propaganda incident but there are other measures that the school administration will need to take.
What are student rights concerning Nazi propaganda?
The Supreme Court’s 1969 decision in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District provided the foundation for student free speech. Tinker held that free expression of ideas in the school is protected by both the First and 14th Amendments, unless school administrators can prove that a given act of expression causes “substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others.” The Supreme Court issued an opinion (Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier) 1988, that enabled school officials to censor the school newspaper for controversial articles that could have disrupted the school environment. Schools have the right to provide students with discipline for actions that disrupt the school environment.
The students took a picture at the junior prom. The photo did not disrupt the prom. The actions of the students did not disrupt the prom. Therefore, the hands of the administrators are tied, and the students will not receive a consequence for their actions. It seems unfair when you review the disproportionate discipline that exists for students of color in this nation. The difference is that White administrators and teachers have for decades added to Whites students feeling of White privilege. This is where the administrators at the Wisconsin Barbaroo School District must begin.
White privilege is the societal privilege that benefits people whom society identifies as White in some countries, beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. The White male students at the school district have benefited from this trend.
The school district must utilize strategies that avoid the destructive behaviors associated with a dysfunctional organization. If the school decides to crack down on the students, students, activist, and other community members, and parents can complain that White privilege at the school has been an acceptable policy for decades. They will effectively shift the blame on the adult staff members and therefore reach an impasse. Next, they will consistently talk about how staff members are negative towards students of color which will further their case.
The Wisconsin Barbaroo School District can offset these dysfunctional behaviors by promoting a positive school climate using the vehicle to promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships. There are several positives for taking this approach.
The first positive is that the school district will be in the process of creating a culture where incidents that involve Nazi propaganda with become disruptive. When their actions disrupt the school environment, the Nazi propaganda students can receive consequences such as suspensions and expulsions.
Another positive is that this program is that it is facilitated by administrators and teachers. The advocates for the students will not be able to blame the behaviors of the staff members. Staff members will no longer feel under the microscope for their past behaviors that may have contributed to the Nazi propaganda.
The program will remove the tarnished image that the incident has placed on the school district. No longer will the news media be fishing for stories to further tarnish the image of the school district that resulted from the Nazi propaganda.
Finally, as a result of the implementing the program that promotes positive racial teacher student classroom relationships, the Barbaroo school district can use associated photos and activities as a marketing opportunity. As the program continues, the school should take photos of the progress and attach the hashtag Barabooproud. After enough pictures with the hashtag, this will force the Nazi propaganda effectively to the bottom of the well.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
- Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
- Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
- The Raccelerate Formula App
- Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
- The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management
“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President