As the 2022-23 school year is set to begin, a local sports radio host in my state posed a question on social media last week that generated responses from across the United States and Canada.
I've been a teacher in a public high school for 20 years now, and I have my own take on each of those issues he proposed, but the responses he got were largely what I expected to see. The ideological balance of Twitter unquestionably tilts left, and many of the most active voices in these kinds of threads are associated with teachers' unions and associations. That doesn't make their opinions or experiences invalid or wrong, but it does offer at least one explanation why so many seem to be saying the same thing.
For instance, notice the response from a teacher named Shawn Crull who quote-tweets a post from left-wing activist Ron Filipkowski:
I can't say that I have ever knowingly worked with any Marxists in my school, and frankly I can't think of many colleagues past or present that I wouldn't trust to babysit my children. President Trump is unquestionably painting with a broad brush, throwing red meat to his supporters for political purposes.
But rather than get worked into a lather over the fact that Trump's brand of anti-public-school hyperbole sells, I think it's far more productive to understand why it sells. Introspection does us all a lot of good, and though it may not be as attention-getting or headline-grabbing as publicly assailing "Marxist educators" or the "Republican War on Teachers," it might help us appreciate the dynamics of the situation and comprehend how to fix it.
If Mr. Crull wants to know how people "ACTUALLY believe" Trump's categorical demolition of public school teachers, he should start by looking at who media promotes as the face and voice of those teachers. Randi Weingarten who heads the American Federation of Teachers, when she isn't retweeting critical information on where you can still kill your unborn child legally, is publicly lying about her own activism that unquestionably hurt children:
That simply isn't true, and it's all a matter of public record.
So, the first thing public school teachers could do to undermine claims that the system we facilitate is a radical leftist indoctrination center, would be to demand better public representation than radical leftists intent on indoctrination.
And if we want to undermine claims that the system we facilitate is brimming with "groomers" and unstable activists so desperate for sexual identity affirmation that they seek to coerce it from elementary students, we could start by ensuring that our own administrators don't hire candidates who will embarrass the profession by exposing themselves as that very thing:
Mr. Crull acknowledges that he is personally in a "great school." I feel similarly. And while my knowledge that I am the furthest thing from a Marxist teacher as I can be allows me to not lose any sleep over President Trump's blanket condemnation, I can sympathize with Mr. Crull and others who are demoralized by the criticism and disparagement it breeds.
That frustration may be why there's a teacher shortage evincing itself in our country, but I suspect there are many other reasons far more significant than right-wing demonization of the system. But to the extent that is a cause, I guess I'm less interested in forcing critics like President Trump into silence, and more motivated to ensure that the system I've worked in for two decades is free of the fringe nonsense that gives such criticism legs.
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