Just days after IRS executive Lois Lerner improperly invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions about Tea Party intimidation, the often misunderstood amendment is reportedly facing another attack at an Illinois high school.
Social Studies teacher John Dryden said he checked his inbox shortly before class recently and noticed a stack of surveys with each of his students’ names printed on them. After looking over the questions contained therein, he realized recipients might feel compelled to affirm illegal drug or alcohol use.
To be reviewed by a number of specialists, the surveys were supposed to help respond to a number of student suicides. Dryden, though, worried uninformed students might be intimidated — especially with a police officer stationed nearby — and had just a few minutes to decide what to do.
He said he thought “somebody needs to remind them they have the ability not to incriminate themselves” and felt compelled to inform the class about their rights. “”I made a judgment call. There was no time to ask anyone.”
Had he received the surveys earlier, he explained, there would have been time to discuss his concerns via more appropriate channels. Instead, he was due in class and simply engaged in a quick lesson about the Fifth Amendment, he said. As a result, administrators threatened him with a “letter of remedy,” which can result in discipline up to and including dismissal.
Dryden has seen a wave of support, though, as students and other allies have circulated petitions and made plans to speak on his behalf at an upcoming school board meeting.
For his part, the teacher said he doesn’t want to become a “sideshow” in what he feels is an important conversation.
“These are good, professional, smart people on the other side who want to do what is right by kids,” he said, clarifying that he is not “a martyr.”
Regardless of administrators’ good intentions, this incident illustrates an inherent flaw in today’s education system. A teacher like Dryden with scores of admirers should feel that he could use an existing situation as the catalyst for an impromptu lesson on the Bill of Rights.
Instead, he is treated with suspicion while countless other teachers use their position to push a litany of far-left, secularist ideas.
Hopefully this teacher will not lose his job over such an apparent overreaction. If he does find himself in need of alternative employment, though, maybe he could conduct remedial Fifth Amendment courses at the IRS.