May 9 • 2M

Chicken Little Attacks America’s Teachers

Is this how we celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week?

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Author, agitator and activist Jim Hightower spreads the good word of true populism, under the simple notion that "everybody does better, when everybody does better."
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Original chicken photo: Ben Schumin, Flickr

I’m a child of privilege. Not the privilege of money (I come from a family of small-town working people). But it was my privilege to grow up in the public schools of Denison, Texas.

There I received the rich blessings of dedicated classroom teachers, a diverse student body, playground socialization, librarians, coaches, cafeteria and custodial workers, student politics, vocational training… and a deep appreciation for the unifying value of community and the Common Good.

That’s why I’m flabbergasted by today’s clique of corporate profiteers, theocratic zealots, and laissez-faire knuckleheads who’re lobbying furiously across the country to demonize, defund, and dismantle this invaluable social benefit. If ignorance is bliss, they must be ecstatic!

Public schools do have some real problems: Politicians constantly slashing education budgets, professional burnout created by understaffing and low pay, the devastating strain of a killer pandemic, and a new-normal of assault-rifle murders. But the profiteers, theocrats, and knuckleheads aren’t interested in those, instead focusing on what they say is the fatal flaw in public education: Teachers.

Yes, the claim is that diabolical educators are perverting innocent minds by teaching America’s actual history, showing students that the full diversity of humankind enriches our society, and presenting our Earth as something to be protected, not plundered. And worse – OMIGOSH – many classroom teachers are union members! So, teachers suddenly find themselves political pawns in the GOP’s culture war. “Our schools are a cesspool of Marxist indoctrination,” squawked Sen. Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump squealed that schools are run by “radical left maniacs” and “pink-haired communists.”

These right-wing Chicken Littles are demonizing America’s invaluable educators because they need someone for people to hate, providing cover for their unpopular plot to privatize education. But hate can easily backfire on hatemongers – and local teachers are a whole lot more popular than conniving politicos and profiteers.

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