“Teach your children well
Their father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.” — Graham Nash
I first saw it on my Facebook feed. I belong to one of those somewhat politically active teacher groups that’s ultimately a place where teachers can safely complain. It’s the end of the year, so there will be a lot of complaints. This year feels kind of different and it was hard to put my finger on it, but I think I noticed it when this story popped up.
I really didn’t take notice until I saw it on a different news source. It’s not that the teachers on social media lie. However, they are subject to hyperbole every now and then. However, more than one source has verified it, so I get to bring it to you.
For those that don’t want to go down the rabbit hole, essentially the bill proposes outlawing the teaching of anything deemed anti-religion and allows for parents to be able to pull books from the bookshelves that they deem to be offensive. The kicker was the following,
“Teachers could be sued a minimum of $10,000 “per incident, per individual” and the fines would be paid “from personal resources” not from school funds or from individuals or groups. If the teacher is unable to pay, they will be fired, under the legislation.”
People at school seem to think I know how to write for some reason, so I primarily support English classes. We hold meetings once a week to make sure everyone is on the same page. Social studies classes are even worse. They teach via Power Point and all of them are on the same Power Point.
Earlier in the year we had to take a workshop on the “teaching of controversial topics.” Essentially, we don’t. It isn’t so much that we teach the Bible so much as not teaching anything at all. Far be it for us to actually hit a topic that would force students to think critically about anything at all. Fortunately, we aren’t getting sued in Texas quite yet, but I’m sure Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and the rest of the dream team will copy Oklahoma before too long.
I’ve been in education for 24 years now. With the way teacher retirement works, I am almost vested and simply am too far in to really do anything else. Many of my colleagues are not and are choosing to get out. This is different. Most of the time they simply have had enough of a certain campus or principal and want to go to a different campus. Sometimes a better opportunity just comes along. In this case, they are leaving education all together.
I promised myself a long time ago that I would never become one of those “back in my day” guys. Yet, here I am. When I started teaching history we had a rough timeline they wanted us to follow, but ultimately we had the autonomy to veer off the beaten path every now and then to hit a unit we cared deeply about. It’s what made teaching history fun. Everyone had their own time period they enjoyed teaching.
Seeing an entire hallway of history teachers on the same Power Point every day is just demoralizing. The only way I can make it through six or seven more years is to remind myself that it is about the students. Those relationships are crucial for their success and our sanity. We just have to watch what we say for now on.