- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — High school teacher Jay Bennish will return to the classroom Monday after receiving a rebuke from his school district for delivering a highly charged political lecture during an honors geography class.

Using an MP3 player, sophomore Sean Allen recorded Mr. Bennish delivering a Feb. 1 lecture in which he called the United States “probably the single most violent nation” on Earth and compared President Bush’s State of the Union address to speeches made by Adolf Hitler.

Monte Moses, superintendent of the Cherry Creek School District, said yesterday that Mr. Bennish would be retained by the district despite committing a breach of school policy by failing to present both sides of an issue during the lecture.

“Jay Bennish has promise as a teacher, but his practice and comportment need growth and refinement,” Mr. Moses said at a press conference.

The 28-year-old social studies teacher was placed on paid leave March 1 from his job at Overland High School in Aurora, Colo.

“I’m very excited to continue encouraging students to think critically, to encourage democratic values in our society, and to promote social justice, just as I have always attempted to do,” Mr. Bennish said after the school district’s press conference.

His attorney, David Lane, said the teacher had received no loss of pay and no suspension.

Mr. Lane said his client had “learned from this experience. … Jay’s teaching style will perhaps be, as they say, more fair and balanced.”

Public outcry and calls for Mr. Bennish’s dismissal ensued after the 20-minute recording was sent by the boy’s father to syndicated columnist Walter Williams and Denver talk-show host Mike Rosen, who played it last week on his radio show.

Sean, 16, who has maintained that Mr. Bennish should be sanctioned but not fired, praised the district for taking seriously his teacher’s breach of policy.

“I never wanted to see him fired,” Sean said. “I just wanted to see him teach the facts and not his own biased political views.”

Despite threats of physical violence from other students at Overland, Sean said he would do the same thing again. “I would do it a million times over,” he said. “My conscience wouldn’t let me go on seeing Mr. Bennish indoctrinate students.”

Colorado conservatives quickly pounced on the incident as an opportunity to address what they see as yet another example of the liberal bias in academia. In the state legislature, Republican Sen. Nancy Spence introduced a bill Thursday that would make it easier for districts to fire teachers who fail to present both sides of an issue.

The Colorado Board of Education deadlocked at its Thursday meeting after members split over a proposed resolution to condemn Mr. Bennish. The resolution also had urged the state Education Department to make “professionalism and objectivity” requirements for obtaining a state teaching license.

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