I am so sick of being a scapegoat.
But Republican lawmakers seem to think they can’t get elected without finding some boogeyman with which to terrify their base.
Whether it’s climate scientists or Hollywood elites or a mythical caravan of brown people determined to burst through our southern border, the GOP cannot function without someone to cast as the monster.
For a political party that scornfully calls others snowflakes, you will never find a more concentrated gathering of self-proclaimed victims than today’s GOP.
Now they’re turning their attention once again to teachers like me.
Across the country, Republican politicians are refusing to let educators give an accurate recounting of history.
In Florida, the GOP is banning math books.
In my home state of Pennsylvania, it’s no different.
State Rep. Barbara Gleim (R – Cumberland County) stoked the flames in the Commonwealth this week with the following message to her social media crew:
“We also need conservative eyes and ears in the schools. If anyone can substitute even one day a week, the teachers who are activists and indoctrinating children can be revealed. Not all teachers are for [Critical Race Theory] CRT, etc. We need to identify the ones who are pushing the professional development they received over the summer. Are they putting black children’s tests in separate piles and grading them differently? Have they separated the classrooms? We won’t know these things until parents are allowed back into schools, so the best way is to sub.”
What a load of crap!
Pennsylvania’s public schools are experiencing a sub shortage. I WISH people would volunteer to sub in our public schools.
In fact, back in October I even suggested lawmakers like Gleim volunteer to sub a few times a week to see what’s going on in the classroom instead of pulling vacuous lies out of their butts.
They certainly have the time! Legislators from the Keystone State make the third highest salary in the country, and they’re only in session a few weeks every month! They could easily spend a few days a week struggling with overstuffed classes, in-school suspension, hall duty and the like.
To be a sub in most public school districts in Pennsylvania, essentially all you need is a bachelors degree (it doesn’t even have to be in education) and pass criminal background checks.
Districts that aren’t experiencing a shortage may require a teaching certificate as well, but beggars can’t be choosers. In districts where it is hard to get subs (i.e. those serving poor and minority kids) you can get emergency certified for a year.
But when I made such a suggestion, I naively thought lawmakers might see the problems schools actually have and start to support them.
Fat chance of that!
People with an agenda like Gleim would simply take the most innocent of interactions and pretend they were examples of indoctrination.
In Florida they banned 41% of the math books for being “woke” without a single concrete example and then patted themselves on the back for being transparent. It would be the same here. It would be like the Puritan girls in “The Crucible” finding witches in every classroom and hallway.
This state representative really thinks teachers are putting black children’s tests in separate piles and grading them differently!? As if we’re somehow changing their grades or assessing them more leniently?
NEWS FLASH: Children of color are not suddenly acing all their tests or rocketing to the head of the class. In fact, just the opposite. There has been a racial proficiency gap for decades based on segregation, lack of resources and punitive and biased standardized tests.
For decades teachers like me have been screaming for change but lawmakers like Gleim either shrug or double down on it.
But back to her social media tirade. She wonders if there are separated classrooms – by which I assume she means classrooms segregated by race.
BINGO! She got that one right! But it’s not what she seems to think.
A majority of children of color are not getting privileged treatment. They’re being underprivileged. They’re in the lower academic tracks and a majority of the white kids are in the honors courses.
Using standardized tests to sort students into academic tracks has hurt minority children and benefited richer white kids.
But back to her social media bubble. She wants parents to be allowed “back” into public schools!? Parents have never been excluded. As long as they can pass the background check, they can come in almost any time.
And if they want to know what’s going on, they can come to any school board meeting and be in the room where all things are decided and be heard during public comment periods. They can even run for school board and make those decisions, themselves.
But way better to pretend a grievance where no such problem exists.
Public schools do not indoctrinate kids.
We teach them to think and come to their own conclusions.
Yes, we teach history, science, English and math. But it’s up to kids to decide what to make of it all.
However, if she wants to see REAL indoctrination all she has to do is look at the private and parochial schools who accept school vouchers – a policy her party usually supports.
These schools use books like America: Land I Love, an A Beka Book; United States History for Christian Schools; and the Teacher’s Resource Guide to Current Events for Christian Schools, the last two published by Bob Jones University Press (BJU).
The books are riddled with counter factual claims and political bias in every subject imaginable such as abortion, gay rights and the Endangered Species Act, which one text labels a “radical social agenda.” They disparage religions other than Protestant Christianity and cultures other than those descended from white Europeans.
They teach that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, some dinosaurs survive into the present day (i.e. the Loch Ness monster), evolution is a myth disproved by REAL science as is the claim that homosexuality is anything but a choice.
Teaching these things in school is not just educational malpractice, it’s exactly the kind of indoctrination the right is claiming without evidence happens at public schools.
And this kind of brain washing is common at voucher schools.
If there’s one thing we need to understand about today’s GOP leaders, it’s this: their accusations are always admissions.
They accuse Democrats of the pedophilia Republican congresspeople like Matt Gaetz are already under investigation for.
They accuse Democrats of fixing elections while the last GOP President actually tried to steal an election.
They accuse public schools of indoctrination while private schools routinely do that already.
Or as the old proverb puts it:
“I looked, and looked,
And this I came to see:
That what I thought was you and you,
Was really me and me.”
We could stop these shenanigans if the rest of society actually took it seriously.
But that would require news sources to point out the hypocrisy above every time a MAGA supporter started making these sorts of claims.
And that won’t happen because modern media is committed to giving equal measure to both sides of a story – even if one is patently false. They’re too afraid to appear biased to report the truth.
But that won’t happen because they’re terrified it might lose them a vote. They’re too afraid of being called partisan. Yet there is no middle ground with justice. You either have it or you don’t.
It would require a stance on principle.
So far, it hasn’t happened, and I doubt it will.
So Republicans will continue to take aim at all the usual scapegoats like teachers.
Like when Chris Christie threatened to punch educators in the face.
Their base will get fired up – perhaps maybe even too fired up – and someone will walk into a school with gun-in-hand to take down all these indoctrinating teachers.
That’s the kind of thing that happened a few years ago at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. A MAGA gunman was convinced by Trump that Jews were helping immigrants come into the country illegally. So he decided to kill as many Saturday worshipers as he could.
If we don’t stand up to this, it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.
Look. I don’t want to be at the center of this ridiculous culture war.
I just want to teach. I just want to do right by my students and their families.
But as our country burns to the ground, the school house often seems to be the center of the blaze.
I am sick of it.
I am sick of it.
I am just so sick of it.
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