Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Here’s Why Teaching Today is So Darn Difficult.

Did you guys happen to see the story of JP Krause — the Vero Beach High School Junior whose election as Senior Class President was voided by his high school principal earlier this year? 

To campaign, Krause made a 90 second impromptu speech during his AP History class that was essentially a spoof of every ridiculous claim/proposal that Donald Trump has made over the last few years.  He promised to build a wall between his school and the neighboring high school — and to force the neighboring school to pay for it.  He claimed that his opponent in the election represented Communist ideas.  And he defended his speech as a “complete joke from the beginning and completely satirical.”

And then he won the election.

#sheeshchat

#soundfamiliar

The principal of the school — Shawn O’Keefe — voided the election, arguing that an election had to be based on something more than satire.  He was trying to reinforce the notion that people running for leadership positions should take pertinent issues seriously — and that when a student body refuses to consider pertinent issues when selecting student leadership, the administration should step in and take action.

Now there’s a lot of room for open-minded debate here.

Some might think that JP’s speech was just another example of a “kid being a kid.”  (I do.)  You could argue that the best lessons students at Vero Beach can learn by electing JP is that elections have consequences.  (I might).  Some might believe that because a school’s principal has to work closely with student leadership — particularly the senior class president — that O’Keefe has the right to filter who gets elected and who doesn’t.  (I do — in extreme cases like this).  And others might believe that we ruin our relationship with students when we take heavy-handed actions like voiding an entire student body election (I don’t.)

But open-minded debate isn’t what happened at all.

Instead, JP was invited on Fox and Friends to talk all about how liberal educators were trying to silence a conservative voice who supported Trump.  Then, the Pacific Legal Fund sent a letter to Vero Beach High School claiming that JP’s constitutional rights were violated by O’Keefe’s decision.

What do JP’s parents think of this entire situation?  They are concerned that the school’s actions are going to hurt JP’s college admission chances, believe that “there wasn’t anything wrong” with his actions, and just wish the school handled the situation better.

Stew in that for a minute, would you?  

A kid gets up, makes a speech in an AP History class that he described as “a complete joke,” and he ends up on Fox and Friends as an example of how conservative voices are stifled in America’s public schools?

A kid gets up, makes a speech in an AP History class that he described as “a complete joke,” and a school system is threatened with legal action for violating his constitutional rights?

A kid gets up, makes a speech in an AP History class that he described as “a complete joke,” and his parents wish the SCHOOL handled the situation better?

Would any of this have happened ten years ago?  Twenty years ago?

What would your parents have done if you had disrupted one of your classes in the same way as JP had?  Would they have argued that the school had handled the situation poorly?  Would they have supported a lawsuit arguing that your constitutional rights had been violated?  Would they have allowed you to go on Fox and Friends to vent about the horrors of the school’s decision?

Those aren’t the decisions that my dad would have made.  

He would have recognized my actions for what they were — a silly prank that had no real place in the classroom.  I don’t think he would have punished me — but he also wouldn’t have bemoaned the school system or suggested to me that I had been wronged in any way.  He would have taken the call from the principal, apologized for my actions, and told me to quit being a goofball in class.

THAT’s why being an educator today is so darn difficult, y’all.

Here’s Why Every American Should Oppose Vouchers.

Did all y’all catch Betsy DeVos’s — Donald Trump’s pick as Secretary of Education — confirmation hearings?  

It was a helluva’ show indeed.

Not only did DeVos need Al Franken — a former Saturday Night Live star — to explain the difference between proficiency and growth to her, she had no real idea how IDEA works, she suggested that she supports privatizing public schools, and she used the threat of grizzly bears as reason enough to question federal laws banning guns on school grounds.

Really.  Grizzly bears.  Look it up.

#sheesh

But the thing that should concern us the most about DeVos is her longtime support of vouchers — which allow parents to use public monies to send their children to private and religious schools — as a reform strategy.

The simple truth is that every American should oppose vouchers.  

Here’s why:  Public schools do more than educate our kids.  They provide opportunities for students to share experiences with people who are drastically different from them.  Rich students work side by side with students from poor neighborhoods.  Gay students befriend kids who are straight.  Deeply religious students meet atheists.  Children of immigrants learn with children whose ancestors have lived in America for generations.  And every kid interacts with peers of a thousand different colors and cultures — perhaps for the first time in their lives.

Do you have any idea how important those experiences are?  

One of the fundamental purposes of education has always been to prepare students for effective participation in a democratic society.  “Effectively participating in a democratic society” depends on our willingness to believe in the power of “the common good” — and believing in the power of the common good can only start when we recognize that others see the world differently than we do.

THAT’s what’s missing from the kinds of homogeneous schools that vouchers promote.  The risk of homogeneous schoolhouses is that students will study in intellectual bubbles — attending classes with kids who look and live just like they do, unaware that their core ideas aren’t always embraced by the people they are sharing this planet with.  Sure, homogeneous is easy and safe.  After all, there’s no need for compromise and no source of external challenge when everyone thinks just like you do.  But it’s not reality.

We live in a fractured nation, y’all.  You know that.  

Instead of looking for common ground, we concentrate our energies and our efforts on the ideas that divide us.  We shout one another down in person and online.  We heap scorn on anyone that we see as different.  We use our political power to pass laws that openly discriminate against anyone who doesn’t live like we do — and we elect leaders from the fringes who would sooner shut down the government than compromise with people on the other end of the political spectrum.

Becoming united again can only start when we find value in others — and for kids, finding value in others can be reinforced in the beautiful diversity of our nation’s public schools.

#simpletruth

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Related Radical Reads:

Here’s Why Competition Doesn’t Work in Public Education.

Breaking Public Education to Pieces.

In Praise of American Educators