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America’s schools are at a turning point. Our children are being over-tested, our teachers are physically exhausted and emotionally demoralized, and our tax dollars are being diverted to replace our public schools with a privately managed, free-market system of education.
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One hot and humid day, a young boy was leading an old man on a donkey through town. As they passed a group of bystanders, some began to complain how unfair it was that the young boy had to walk while the old man was able to ride. In hearing this, they switched places and continued on. As they passed another group of citizens, they overheard how unfair it was that the old man had to walk while the young boy was able to ride. At this point, the pressure became so great that they both decided to ride the donkey. Unfortunately, after taking a few steps the donkey keeled over and died due to the excess weight. The moral of this story is when you try to please all of the people all of the time, you lose your ass.
In our culture, we’ve been taught not to talk about sex, politics or religion at the dinner table. This mindset is widespread and prevents us from addressing divisive issues that need to be discussed. In a recent TED Talk, Priya Parker warns that the human condition is as threatened by unhealthy peace as by unhealthy conflict. Author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, she believes that the best gatherings cultivate good controversy. For those who are concerned about how the growing division in our nation is impacting our local schools and communities, this is an important video to watch.
Inspired by articles such as “Surviving Thanksgiving When You Hate How Your Family Voted” and “How to Talk Politics at Your Family Holiday Meal,” Vanderbilt Professor Dr. Robert Talisse offers unconventional advice to help stop or reverse political polarization, especially within our own families and communities. The title of his Tedx Talk is “Putting Politics in Its Place.”
In response to a dramatic uptick in book challenges and the removal of books from school and community libraries, the American Library Association released a joint statement condemning these actions as “acts of censorship and intimidation.” In the opening paragraph, the ALA wrote:
In recent months, a few organizations have advanced the proposition that the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves. To this end, they have launched campaigns demanding the censorship of books and resources that mirror the lives of those who are gay, queer, or transgender or that tell the stories of persons who are Black, Indigenous, or persons of color. Falsely claiming that these works are subversive, immoral, or worse, these groups induce elected and non-elected officials to abandon constitutional principles, ignore the rule of law, and disregard individual rights to promote government censorship of library collections. Some of these groups even resort to intimidation and threats to achieve their ends, targeting the safety and livelihoods of library workers, educators, and board members who have dedicated themselves to public service, informing our communities, and educating our youth.
As we struggle with the political vitriol infecting our country, this interview conducted two years ago with Louie Anderson is a breath of fresh air.
On February 23, the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network is joining the Heights Coalition for Public Education in hosting a public forum to discuss why 100 school districts are challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s voucher programs. The webinar will begin at 7 p.m. You can register at:
In an article published this week in The Washington Post, Sarah Stitzlein argues that school vouchers are a threat to our democracy. In addition to serving as professor of education and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of Cincinnati, Sarah is a member of the statewide leadership team for the Ohio Public School Advocacy Network.
Americans by nature are doers. Amid the acrimony and divisiveness gripping our public life and politics today, people want to build things together and be part of something larger than themselves. This just isn’t my observation after spending more than 30 years working with concerned citizens to help pass school tax issues. It also is something that Rich Hardwood talks about in his new book, Unleashed: A Proven Way Communities Can Spread Change and Make Hope Real for All. Rich, who has devoted his career to revitalizing our nation’s hardest hit communities, explains that “no one leader, no single organization or group, and no individual citizen can tackle these problems alone.” Instead, we must unleash the positive energy of the “doers” throughout our communities who are looking for opportunities to step up and make a difference.
Two bills to prohibit the teaching of topics dealing with race, sex, slavery, nationality, color and ethnicity have been introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives. The bills, HB 322 and HB 327, are prime examples of how our public schools are caught in the crosshairs of the culture wars which are dividing our nation. The Ohio Council for the Social Studies is opposed to both of these bills.