Teachers Accused of Poisoning Kids' Minds With Constitutional Law


Two teachers at Norview High School in Norfolk, Virginia, were placed on paid leave this week while administrators investigated a parent's complaint about "unauthorized materials": a flyer and a video that explain how to protect your rights during encounters with the police. The flyer (PDF), though produced by the Police Unwelcoming Committee of the anarchist CrimethInc Ex-Workers' Collective, offers accurate advice that people of all political stripes might benefit from:

You have the right to be in a public place and to observe police activity…

It is not a crime to be without ID…

To stop you, the officer must have a "reasonable suspicion" to suspect your involvement in a specific crime….

Cops can do a "pat search" (search the exterior of one's clothing for weapons) during a detention for "officer safety reasons." They can't go into your pockets or bags without your consent.

The video, Busted: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters, offers more in a similar vein, illustrated by dramatizations of police encounters during a traffic stop, on the street, and at home. The organization that produced it, Flex Your Rights, makes no secret of its opposition to the war on drugs. But again, the advice is sound and potentially useful to anyone who values his privacy and freedom.

According to the complaining parent, her daughter "came home recently and said, 'You won't believe what we are learning in Government. They are teaching us how to hide our drugs.'" Although Busted depicts a couple of pot smokers (a passenger in a car and a guest at a house party, if I recall correctly), this gloss is not an accurate description of the video or the flyer; it sounds more like the daughter's (or mother's) supposition about who would be interested in the finer points of Fourth Amendment law. It seems perfectly appropriate to use materials like these to illustrate the relevance of that topic in the context of a 12th-grade government class, and it's sad that parents think the Constitution is dangerously subversive.