"The teachers union has been handing out thousands of Barack Obama campaign buttons to its members, sparking a clampdown by education brass. The Department of Education - which has a long-standing policy barring teachers from wearing campaign buttons in schools - is set to send out an e-mail this week from Schools Chancellor Joel Klein laying down the law. "Schools are not a place for politics and not a place for staff to wear political buttons," said department spokeswoman Ann Forte. "We don't want a school or school staff advocating for any political position or candidate to students and we don't want students feeling intimidated because they might hold a different belief or support a different candidate than their teachers."
United Federation of Teachers official LeRoy Barr told his members in a recent e-mail that union chief Randi Weingarten is fighting the DOE decision. Officials of the union - which has endorsed Obama - said they didn't know of any schools where button-wearing teachers were told to zip it, but they said they were exploring the matter "to ensure members' rights to free speech and expression."
While department officials said the courts are on their side in the matter, many city teachers say their right to wear partisan buttons is a matter of free speech. Several cited a landmark 1969 Supreme Court ruling involving students who planned to wear black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. It affirmed that constitutional rights don't get dropped "at the schoolhouse gate."....
An employer can set conditions for employment but when the employer is a government body it gets murky.
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