Colo. Teacher Accused Of Bias Is Reinstated

Jay Bennish, an Aurora, Colo., high school social studies teacher, was accused of presenting biased views in class and was placed on leave.
Jay Bennish, an Aurora, Colo., high school social studies teacher, was accused of presenting biased views in class and was placed on leave. (By Jack Dempsey -- Associated Press)
Associated Press
Saturday, March 11, 2006

DENVER, March 10 -- A high school teacher who was placed on leave after comparing President Bush's State of the Union address to speeches by Adolf Hitler has been reinstated, his attorney and school officials said Friday.

Officials declined to say whether social studies instructor Jay Bennish faced disciplinary action. His attorney, David Lane, said Bennish would be back in the classroom Monday "with full pay."

Bennish had been on paid leave from Overland High School in suburban Aurora since March 1 while Cherry Creek School District determined whether he violated a district rule that teachers present balancing viewpoints in the classroom.

Superintendent Monte Moses declined to offer specifics of the investigation or its findings, but said administrators and Bennish now "have a good understanding."

During a Feb. 1 lecture in a geography class, Bennish said some of Bush's State of the Union address the night before "sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say."

Bennish later said the lecture was intended to stimulate his students to think critically. He also said he presents balancing viewpoints in class but not always at the same time. Lane acknowledged that was a mistake.

"Jay's teaching style will perhaps be, as some would say, a little more fair and balanced on a minute-to-minute basis," Lane said. "When you put out one side, put out the other then and there."

Bennish said he would continue to try to improve as a teacher and to encourage students to think critically.

"I will be back in the classroom on Monday, and I am excited to continue to teach," he said.

One of Bennish's students recorded part of the lecture and provided the tape to a Denver radio station. Cherry Creek administrators said the student's father gave a copy to them.

On Friday, the state Senate rejected a proposal authorizing schools to fire teachers who routinely present one-sided views in the classroom and instead agreed to a measure saying teachers who violate school policies can be dismissed.


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