A spark of hope
Well, it’s been a pretty disheartening last few months here in the KASD. But it’s not just here: from renewed campaigns to whitewash our curriculum, to school administrators and school boards being cowed into making health decisions that fly in the fact of medical advice and common sense, what we are seeing locally is just one part of a national campaign to silence previously marginalized voices and to promote a particular political ideology. If you follow school board news from other parts of the country, it’s not hard to see that these campaigns are orchestrated from outside. Exactly the same controversies erupt at exactly the same time in thousands of districts throughout the country. This is not a coincidence. It’s a systematic attempt to impose a political ideology and a toxically selfish version of “freedom” via the public school system.
From the anti-equity movement, to the fabricated furor over critical race theory, to anti-LGBTQ bigotry, to the pushes to remove books with any content that might make anyone uncomfortable from school libraries, the through-line is clear: If you’re not like “us”, you are not welcome here. We don’t even want our kids to know that you exist, and certainly don’t want them to learn anything about your experiences of life. The next campaign coming down the pike is to require that all teachers be subject to continuous scrutiny, that lesson plans be continually posted online, and that all curricular materials be subject to parental veto. Given the wellspring of ignorance and misrepresentation that we’ve seen with the anti-CRT crusade, it’s not hard to see where that will take us. The purpose is simple: to intimidate teachers and administrators.
This shows incredible disrespect for our teachers and students, and it ensures a lowest-common-denominator education. What are people so afraid of? Are their own identities and ideas and ideals so weak that they will crumble upon mere exposure to anything different? One of the most important parts of an education is to expose people to ideas, experiences, and lives that are different from their own. Right now, however, we’re giving students in our district a very different sort of education. In talking with my own kids and with others, certain lessons have come through loud and clear over the past year in the KASD. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, and it doesn’t matter what the consequences are for anybody else, because nobody else matters. Being loud, belligerent, disrespectful, and bullying is the way to get what you want. Just shout something loudly enough and often enough, and it becomes the new reality. Facts don’t matter. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.
Thankfully, many of the kids in the district recognize what’s going on. The banned books club started by KASD students is a remarkable development, and one of the most encouraging things I’ve seen happen in the district in quite some time. A spark of hope. If only all the adults in the district were as courageous, empathetic, and thoughtful….