Sunday, January 20, 2019

This Is Not What Dr. King Had in Mind

I suppose if you really want to bury a less-than-serious proposal that would attempt to solve the most vexing issue of the day, then you should announce it on the Saturday afternoon of a long holiday weekend. And you should make sure to propose something that gives you everything you want, but only three years and not cover everyone that the other side wants.

Such is what the president (shudder) proposed on Saturday. Perhaps it's just an opening gambit, but history has shown that Donald Trump doesn't favor protracted negotiations that don't end with him getting his way. I suppose that Nancy Pelosi leaving town is the Democrats' answer.

Education is also roaring back into the country's news feed, what with the Los Angeles teachers on strike over working conditions, yes, but mostly about...Charter Schools. You know, those lovely places that are publicly funded, but privately run. It's a setup that drains resources from public schools and aims to suppress union activism from teachers, and the research we have is that charters are really no better that public schools when it comes to student achievement and educational effectiveness.

Couple this with the walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma and other states last year, and you have a trend that will only get stronger. Plus, the new congress includes liberal members who not only support public education and teachers, but are also willing to point out that President Obama and Arne Duncan were both wrong to support the testing movement and faux teacher evaluation systems that did more harm than good. Most public school teachers are effective, and that has been substantiated by the fact that teachers have not been fired in large numbers, as proponents of the new system said would happen. And now, at least in New Jersey, the standardized tests that wrecked the curriculum are gone.

But just in case you thought that the purpose of education was to prepare students to live, think, and work in the modern world, we have the story of Karen Pence, wife of the Vice President, who went back to her teaching career this year at a school that, well, you have to read it.

And you thought that the right wing's denial of science was limited to the climate.

Here we have an instance where the denial of human rights, human intelligence, human compassion, and human acceptance is the curriculum. I understand the right of religious people to live a religious life, but I do not understand, nor can I countenance, a school where children are taught that their neighbors should be disrespected, hated, marginalized, and emotionally harmed in the name of an ideology that blames rather than accepts.

Democrats need to be very careful about what they wish for when they want president Trump to go away. We have worse waiting in the wings.

Might I suggest that you take a moment and read/listen to or view some Martin Luther King this weekend. His words are everything we need now: uplifting, resonant, powerful, positive, human, moral, thrilling, emotionally-charged, and truthful.

We used to have that.

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