Orange County teacher out after Trump-Hitler remarks

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A teacher in Orange County resigned after reports of biased political lessons

An Orange County high school teacher resigned Monday following a slew of complaints the school board chairman said he received from people across the country.

Amanda Harder taught English for three years at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough. Last week, A.P. Dillon with the Triangle-based conservative blog, Lady Liberty 1885, published an audio recording she said students who didn't want to be identified taped during Harder's class.

Those unknown students, according to the blogpost, also said Harder asked them to compare speeches by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to those of Adolf Hitler.

"If you present just a one-sided picture, you're not being objective and you're really prostituting the whole educational process," said Dr. Stephen Halkiotis, Orange County Board of Education Chairman.

The recording was taken during Harder's lesson on the modes of persuasion Ethos, Pathos, and Logos:

Harder: "Who is the master of Pathos? Who we're sadly exposed to on a daily basis?"
Students: "Trump!"
Harder: "Trump, right."

The teacher goes on to say, "He is poking the fryers under particular niches of people in this country. People who are anti-Mexican, people who are anti-Muslim, people who are anti-woman. Basically the only people who seem to be safe from this guy are white Christian males. Am I missing anything? American white Christian male Americans."

Harder eventually can be heard mentioning Democrats in her lesson.

"Who knows what his actual motives are? But he is a master at manipulating his audience, right? He knows where the fears lie and he's going right after them. Now, is he any different than any other politicians? No. Not really. I mean Hillary Clinton's guilty of the same thing. The only difference is she's a little bit more subtle about it."

Still, Halkiotis said the allegations of unbalanced teaching led the district to sending out a letter to all Orange County Schools staff last Friday, reminding them of the district's policy on political activity in the classroom.


"Being a school system employee, you better be very diligent to what the policy says, and the policy says you don't use a classroom, you don't use a school house to take a stand on a political issue," Halkiotis said. "We're a public school system and we don't need to ... turn our classrooms and our school buildings into political battlefields. There's enough of that going on out there right now and it's horrific. It does nothing but detract from the work of educating children."

Halkiotis said it was on the agenda at Monday night's school board meeting to approve Harder's request for resignation that was to take effect Dec. 21 of this year, but that earlier that day, Harder had already voluntarily stepped down, effective immediately.


The superintendent had just begun an investigation into what happened in Harder's classroom, Halkiotis said.

Harder declined to comment for this story.

Before coming to Orange County Schools to teach English and Public Speaking, Harder was a teacher with Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools from September 1999 to December 2010, said school system spokesperson Jeff Nash.

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