Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Enjoy Parties, But I Never Can Pick the Right One

               I was all set to do a full length feature post on a new law in Missouri where students can now refuse any assignments that conflict with their religion. Oh, the fun I was going to have, suggesting that I was going to head to Missouri and start a new religion that rejects your barbaric notions of “Algebra” and baptisms into said religion would cost oh, let’s say, $100. Then I realized that this would have been my third post on something political in the space of a month. (I’m not counting the Rush Limbaugh thing. That was me making fun of someone who said something stupid, his politics had nothing to do with it.)

                The sad thing is, I really don’t intend for this to become a political blog. It’s my blog on my journey to be a teacher, as well as some of my comedy. But the thing is, I will forever comment on anything I see going on in education that disturbs me, because that’s why I’m going into education… to make a difference. Not just on the kids, but because I’m tired of seeing how the education system is run lately. And I carefully consider my options: I can sit on the outside and complain, or I can get in there, make some enemies and do something about it. But that introduces the sad thing into this blog… politics has gotten too intertwined with education.

                All due respect to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama our two leading candidates to run this country, they have not spent any time in the classroom beyond their school years, and any parent-teacher conferences that I'm sure are pretty horrifying for teachers. (I don't care who you are, once the men in the sunglasses and suits show up, it's time to be a little nervous.)Hey, there’s no shame in that. That’s like, 90% of everyone, right? I’m not calling them out on that. I’m calling out them, and any other politician that claims to know the first thing about teaching. Hey, I know very little about defense spending, taxes, or setting up Congressional Toga Party Wednesdays, so I stay out of those areas. (Do only the committee chairmen get to wear the laurels? Does everyone don a white toga, or is there one sad senator that has to use the Star Wars bedsheets? It's very complicated.)

                But education has to be separated from politics. Politicians don't know about how children need to be educated. They can only pander to a vocal group of people that are serving their own agenda, whatever that may be.  The idea should be this: We train the next generation as best we can, because they are the ones taking care of us. I want the doctor that replaces my heart after the Robot-Human war to be fully trained (and 100% human. I just don’t trust them after they rose up and took over Canada.) and be versed in all things medical. We want the next generation to know MORE than us. And none of that involves politicians or politics. Politics shouldn't create a barrier to that because someone "disagrees" with something being taught. (Yes, I know some  of you are saying "but teachers make political statements all the time!". But if your argument is “but teachers do it, so why can’t politicians do it back to them?” then I direct you back to second grade, when your parents or a teacher should have taught you that was not a valid argument.)

                One of the most painful moments in my recent history was watching the ongoing saga of the Unions in Wisconsin. Again, I don’t know enough to know what all of the issues are with that. It was explained to me, but I just don’t know… my brain doesn’t work like that (No one would explain it to me in Star Wars terms). But I got to watch as teachers got called lazy, uneducated, people who just wanted to brainwash students and take lavish three month vacations during the summer (you know how all teachers take their teacher money and head to their third homes on the coast after a year of telling students all about "history" or "science")… all by politicians who were trying to demonize the teachers union. That was harsh for me, particularly as some family members chose to take the side of those calling teachers evil, useless, or just in general a waste of a profession. Usually by writing it down, not noting the irony in that. It made me feel exceptionally unimportant. It still does. It's one of the harder things I've had to get over when I decided to become a teacher. But mostly, it made me angry. 

I don’t care about politics. I care about William Shakespeare. I care about Neil Gaiman. I care Dave Barry. I care about Jane Austen. I care about passing my love for literature onto the next generation, and hopefully letting them think for themselves. I don’t want to be mired in the politics of teaching that Banquo may or may not have been a ghost (because ghosts aren't real!) or being demonized because I taught a book that some politician hasn’t picked up in sixty years had a bad experience with and decided that no one else should learn it. (Yes, Congressman from New York… we know you got a C plus on that paper about Brave New World. I don’t think that’s grounds for having all the copies destroyed.) The fact is, that I should be able to do a million posts about all the education stories around the country and never once mention "Democrat" or "Republican" or "Green Party." (Just kidding. No one talks about the Green Party.)

                So, back to my original point: Politicians need to stay out of education. No, we don’t need a law in Missouri saying kids can refuse assignments based on religious grounds. (I suspect that anyone refusing to do a project on evolution may not be barred from playing sports on Sunday, as mentioned in their religion.) Let’s not rewrite history books in Texas because you disapprove of Thomas Jefferson’s writings and teachings. Let’s not demonize teachers by misrepresenting them. Let's not pull funding from failing schools and hurt them further.   Let’s not demonize students for wanting to go into higher education and learn something.

                This turned a lot more soapboxy than I intended. I will not apologize for that. This isn’t as funny as some of my other posts. I will go back to comedy soon, and yes, some of it will go back to blasting stupid things said by stupid politicians trying to score political points with people who disagree with something their kids are learning. But it will be education based, because that's what I understand. That's what I am learning.  I want what's best for students.



  1. Good post and I agree with your point, but wasn't Obama a teacher for a while? It was some useless subject like constitutional law or something.

  2. Preach! In all seriousness, this is a great post and spot on. Education has become so politicized and it shouldn't be. If you really care about students and the future (like every politician says) then you would leave the education to the people who know what they're doing. Is every teacher perfect? No, but the vast majority are also not terrible or evil or lazy.