1964 February 22

California Teacher Fights Attacks by American Legion


Virginia Franklin, a teacher at Paradise, California, High School, filed a damage suit on this day, asking for $850,000 against the local chapter of the American legion because of its campaign against her fitness to teach. The Legion had sponsored numerous letters to the editor accusing her of advancing a “left-wing” philosophy, of brainwashing her students, and of promoting offensive sexual practices. When Mrs. Franklin and her husband decided to seek employment elsewhere, she found that other school districts would not consider her because of the controversy. In fact, as she explained in her defense, she always introduced students to both sides of an issue. She had taken her students to a civil liberties conference but also encouraged them to hear a speech by the head of the right-wing John Birch Society.

For other anti-civil liberties by the American Legion, go to October 3, 1929,  October 2, 1932, February 22, 1964 and August 6, 1954.

Learn more about academic freedom from the American Federation of Teachers: http://www.aft.org/issues/highered/acadfreedom/index.cfm

Learn more about the AAUP freedom to teach: http://www.aaup.org/report/freedom-to-teach

Watch a debate over academic freedom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCjuu6n6wqU

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