Election Time: What You Can and Can’t Say on the Job

Your political activism drives association success in state and local elections, and over and over again, that activism has proven vital. But in an election year, when campaigning for your candidates and issues is so important, you must be very mindful of your audience.

As an educator, your offcampus conversations and activities in political events is likely protected by the First Amendment. But if your activities lead to a disruption in school—or in educator/student or educator/administration relationships—you could be heading for a problem.

That same protection doesn’t exist when you’re on the job, standing in front of a classroom of students, or conversing with parents about student, classroom, or school issues. In these situations, you’re designated a spokesperson for the school district—that means the administration determines what you can and can’t say on the job.

At election time, this becomes particularly important. Here’s what you need to know to stay on the safe side:

DON’T discuss your preferred political candidates in the presence of students.

DON’T wear political buttons of any kind while in the presence of students.

DO keep any discussion of the election, political parties, or candidates non-partial and relevant to the curriculum.

Beyond the classroom, school administrators can’t impose rules limiting how you talk with colleagues during breaks or during conversation outside the presence of students. That’s why you’ll find information about association-endorsed candidates posted on the association bulletin board, in your mailbox, and in employee lounges that are off-limits to students.