Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history of education at the University of Pennsylvania. A former Peace Corps volunteer and high school teacher, he is the author (with cartoonist Signe Wilkison) of Free Speech and Why You Should Give a Damn (2021) The Amateur Hour: A History of College Teaching in American (2020), The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools (2017), Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (2016), Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education (2015), Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory (2009 ), Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century (2006), Whose America? Culture Wars in the Public Schools (2002), and Distilling Democracy: Alcohol Education in America's Public Schools, 1880-1925 (1999). He won New York University's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008. He is also a frequent op-ed contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic, and other newspapers and magazines.
The Muzzled Teacher: American Public Schools and the Limits of Freedom
Across the country, Mayer's defenders decried the apparent assault on her "academic freedom." But K-12 teachers in America have never enjoyed such freedom in a manner that university academicians would recognize. During wartime especially, school boards and courts have discouraged or blocked teachers from engaging their students in an open, critical dialogue about controversial ethical and political issues. Zimmerman's talk will explore these restrictions, the fate of the teachers who broached them, and the implications of this history for contemporary democracy.