Working in education, I’ve thought repeatedly about what my role is to the children that I help educate. Many may not realize this, but being able to effectively teach is an incredible privilege because of the unique role that a teacher plays in educating the youth to be future leaders in our country. Unfortunately, there are some educators among us who do not appreciate this privilege. One of them goes by the name of Vince Ziebarth.

Vince Ziebarth was a driver’s education instructor in the state of Illinois who recently got fired for kicking a kid out of his classroom because he wouldn’t stand for the pledge of allegiance. Ziebarth is outraged and other students have signed a petition to bring him back into the school. Nevertheless, I’m here to argue that Eisenhower High School got it completely, 100 percent right in firing this man.

I currently teach a sizable number of students who happen to support Donald Trump. Can you imagine if I just told those kids that I was not going to teach them until they disavowed his various lies and abhorrent statements? These kids I teach are free to support whomever they want and exercise their opinions in whatever capacity they see fit under our Constitutional framework. That’s the beauty of our Constitution, it’s a trade-off. Just because someone is exercising a freedom you don’t necessarily agree with, does not mean you have the right to punish them for it. What these kids support or how they voice their opinions has nothing to do with me. My only duty to them as an educator is in the title: It’s to EDUCATE them.

The choice to exercise freedoms is what makes this country great. That student exercised their freedom to not stand up for the pledge. You can choose to disagree and even tell the student why you disagree with their decision. What you cannot do is base whether or you’re willing to do your job on a kid exercising their Constitutional rights.

He said that he didn’t want his feelings to get in the way of him teaching, so he elected to kick the kid out of class. Quite frankly, this is, of course, the most absolute bullsh*t cop-out excuse. If we all let our feelings dictate whether or not we will do our jobs, there wouldn’t be that many people out here working at this current time.

The bottom line is this man is not an educator. A real educator respects their students’ opinions and discusses with them to help them grow as critical thinkers. He failed that kid, and any other teacher who shirks their duties because of what a kid thinks are failing their students, as well. Ziebarth chose blind nationalistic ideology over his duties as an educator, and got punished for it accordingly.