In recent years, extremists leading the New Hampshire Republican Party, with the blessing of Governor Sunun, have drastically reduced public funding for public education, adopted the country’s widest school voucher program, and taken steps to double the number of charter schools in the country. states, and has found many ways to divert public funds from our local public schools to unaccountable, sometimes lucrative, often unlicensed private alternatives.
They are now using baseless slander about public school teachers as another strategy to undermine our public education system, a system that most Americans value but despise those who no longer accept the idea of the “common good.”
Promoting the Prohibited Concepts Bill last year, some politicians have falsely accused teachers of deliberately making white students feel guilty about being white, and of teaching race theory at the law school level that most of us, including teachers, never heard of. Now they are propagating the myth that our local teachers (imagine them in your head, please) are Marxist revolutionaries who spend their days strengthening our youth.
The new bill, the Teachers’ Loyalty Act (HB 1255), prohibits public school teachers from upholding “socialism, Marxism … or any other doctrine … involving the overthrow by force” of our government, as if there were any grounds for doing so. guess it happens in our local schools.
It also threatens teachers with a loss of livelihood if they cross vaguely demarcated boundaries associated with “negative accounts” of any aspect of U.S. history. The effect will cool the discussion of important topics in the classroom, which means that teachers can not be trusted to honestly and fairly teach the history of our country.
MP Alicia Lekas said, presenting the bill at the legislative hearings, that its purpose is to make sure that teachers educate, not impose. “It’s one thing to try to teach religion and get involved in the resulting conflicts,” she said. “But if I tried to convince you that my religion is the right religion … it’s indoctrination.”
(How ironic that MP Lekas chose religious indoctrination as his straw man! Just last year, she voted for a school voucher program that now sends millions of public dollars to religious schools, many of which openly teach that their only true religion. But HB 1255 to they are not distributed.)
Answering a direct question, MP Lekas was unable to cite factual evidence of indoctrination in public schools, citing only unnamed people complaining about unidentified schools. Other policies are also missing. For example, in response to a statement from a teachers’ union representative about another bill, House Speaker Jason Osborne said, “They want to teach our children the same Marxist theories they follow.”
I would like these politicians to take a Concord High history course where students learn how important it is to back up opinions with facts. In this class, students were invited to read several published essays on Thomas Jefferson – some praised him for his role in establishing our democracy, some criticized him as a slave.
Students analyzed each essay to identify the evidence that the authors used to support their opinions, and then assessed the quality of that evidence and the plausibility of the argument. Their final assignment was to write their own essays, taking a position on Thomas Jefferson (Hero? Not Hero? Mixed?) And substantiating this with evidence-based evidence.
It was a master class on writing and critical thinking as opposed to indoctrination. However, I wonder if a teacher will teach this today if any mention of facts that suggest that our founding fathers were less than perfect evokes the specter of losing teaching qualifications.
Public school teachers are professionals who can and should be trusted to teach their local curriculum, not to push their personal political beliefs. Rest assured that if a self-taught teacher has actually tried to teach students, the news will be conveyed by the students themselves and / or paraprofessionals, special education teachers, counselors, parent volunteers, and administrators who come in and out of classes.
If you believe that strong public schools are the foundation of our democracy and very important to living communities, please inform your legislators. And in the fall, let’s throw out the right-wing extremists along with those Republican lawmakers who go along with them, and vote only for the candidates who promise to support and strengthen our free, inclusive, and accountable public schools.
(Mary Wilk of Concord is a retired public school teacher.)