Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Back to School 2021

This is one of those years when the public school system has been singled out as a bastion of liberal teachers who are corrupting the minds of youngsters by telling them that they are indeed responsible for protecting our democratic institutions, ensuring that all citizens get justice, and reminding the country that we have a horrible racist past that continues to infect housing, education, employment, athletics, politics, economics, social interaction, religion, police departments, the military, and the media. 

Please remind me if I've left anyone out.

But we also need to be particularly careful that we make sure students know, and are given the tools to address, how we can overcome these historical patterns and ensure that we break this cycle of ignorance and fear that those who see a danger in the changing American demographic landscape continue to promote. 

Yes, my friends and colleagues, teaching is, has always been, and will always be a political act, a subversive act, an act that challenges the foundations of society while also reinforcing the idea that questioning our basic beliefs and putting them to the test is in the best interests of the system. Teaching is based on the idea that in order to create a just system, we must conserve ideas that support all Americans while introducing new ideas that move us forward. Teaching requires that we truly challenge our students by asking them to question what they know, rather than repeating anodyne phrases and tenets that have long since lost their relevance and resonance. Education is not safe. It is stressful for the teacher and the learner. 

If certain segments of society are going to push against teachers, then we must push back with the certainty that facts and data provide us. The United States does not have one historical story. It has many, and we must tell all of them. We need to demand that textbook companies and those who produce content for schools provide perspectives that reflect the experiences of those who were previously unheard, unrecognized, and marginalized. And we need to go to Board of Education meetings to counter those people who promote misinformation and fear. 

Perhaps you went into teaching because it seemed safe, predictable, assured, and reflective of a point of view with which you agreed. Things have now changed. Are you ready to change with them?

Have a marvelous year.