Wednesday, December 14, 2016

WWJD to Public Schools?

Public education supporters have legit reasons to be worried about President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.  

Living through the assault on government schooling in my home state of Wisconsin by Governor Scott Walker and his cohorts, I know firsthand how public education is mangled by anti-government types, like Walker and DeVos.

A recent New York Times op-ed correctly connects DeVos to the extreme right wing of the GOP committed to dismantling anything government run. In their binary view of the world, these cult members approach all government-run entities as evil. If government anything succeeds, then everything run by government is possible--so, therefore, the evil government schools must be dismantled. Their anti-government education playbook includes vouchers, private charters, union busting, school choice, funding cuts, and anti-public school propaganda. 

DeVos' family money is connected to all kinds of anti-public education groups, including the Education Action Group. EAG guises itself as a real news agency, but in actuality is an anti-public education organization funded by right wing operatives (like the Bradley Foundation) and works often with other Tea Party-type organizations (such as Breitbart and MacIver Institute). EAG's head demolition man is Kyle Olson, a free market, Christian apologist who makes his living trying to obliterate public education. The Michigan-based EAG asks, "What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) to public schools?" Olson and his DeVos-funded demo crew believe they are simply doing Jesus Christ's work in tearing down public education. EAG's mission is best summed up by this Olson quote:

I would like to think that, yes, Jesus would destroy the public education temple and save the children from despair and a hopeless future. And he would smash a temple that has been perverted to meet the needs of the administrators, teachers, school board members, unions, bureaucrats and contractors.

I know this may sounds paranoid or like "sour grapes" about the election (as Trump likes to say), but the damage done to public education in Wisconsin is real and adding a federal layer of attack is real scary. Since the anti-government Walker and his GOP cohorts have taken over Wisconsin's government, public schools have suffered. Experienced educators have kept government schools afloat, but the cuts have been deep and detrimental to Wisconsin's public schools. 

Under Trump and DeVos, the piecemeal plan of dismantling government schooling state by state now goes national. Does Jesus really hate public schools?

Friday, September 2, 2016

It's Not That Simple

I love this great political and personal weave by Keith Woods of NPR.  It is a worthy read and a better listen
"Love of country can't be accurately measured by whether someone sits or stands or slouches or sings. It's not that simple." ~Woods, NPR
Today I start my 20th year teaching history. "It's not that simple" will be a constant theme through almost all of our historical studies. Student opinions, perspectives, and emotions will swirl in class discussions on Colin Kaepernick's protest, civil rights history, US foreign policy, immigration, the upcoming POTUS election, work history, abuse/use of the environment, politics, and more.
Social studies is often mislabeled as a soft science. In actuality, social studies is tough because it is not a science. In the study of history, 2 + 2 sometimes does not equal 4. History is a complicated conversation, as I once learned, with seemingly an infinite number of variables and usually lacks definitive conclusions of historical happenings.
History (and the present) is not that simple. That is what I love about social studies. 
I'll be using Wood's essay in my opening lesson as a springboard into the messy, complicated, and powerful history of the United States.