Lifestyle & Belief

Teacher told Dr. Seuss too political for classroom


A Dr. Seuss book sits as children play at an exhibition dedicated to Dr. Seuss at the Children's Museum of Manhattan in New York City.


Mario Tama

A school administrator has told one Canadian teacher to stop using Dr. Seuss to vent frustration over an ongoing labor dispute, saying it’s too political, the National Post reported.

The Grade 1 teacher in Prince Rupert, B.C., faced disciplinary action if she used a Yertle the Turtle quote for a T-shirt or bumper sticker.

In the children’s book, Yertle convinces other turtles to form a stack so he can climb to the top.

Once there, the bottom turtle has a request: “I know, up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.”

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Contract talks between the teachers union and British Columbian government have stalled.

Teachers have been without a contract since the summer, but cannot strike because of legislation introduced earlier this year.

Staff asked the teacher in question to meet with them because she had pro-union messages in her car.

To ensure she followed rules that prohibit political material from classrooms, the teacher showed several quotes to administration she hoped to use for campaign material, The Northern View newspaper reported.

Administrators approved others, but stopped short when it came to Yertle.

“Some of them were fairly political,” union representative Joanna Larson said. “There were quotes from people like (former Prime Minister) John Diefenbaker and other political figures … then it got to the Yertle the Turtle quote and the teacher was told it was clearly political. It’s absurd.”

The man who made the decision said he didn’t realize it was from Dr. Seuss, according to The Globe and Mail.

“It’s a good use of my time if it serves the purpose of shielding the children from political messaging,” Dave Stigant, the school district’s acting director of instruction, told the Globe. “I don’t consider it’s taking a stand on the dispute. It’s a matter of legality and living up to our obligation to children and their families.”

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