PURELY POLITICAL, By Jim Buckley
What exactly is being taught in schools throughout the land? I have the impression that we’ve taken a turn for the worse in the field of education.
We know, for example, that the ratio of administrators versus teachers has doubled and tripled over the past few decades, and I for one don’t understand why.
And, from what I can see, this is not a positive trend. My children graduated from high school more than two decades ago, so I contacted a teacher in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. She currently teaches high school but has taught in middle and elementary schools, so she knows quite a bit about what is being taught in all grades.
For the moment and for this column, and especially for the sake of her career, she’ll be known as “Teacher.”
Teacher is a brave soul, however, and isn’t averse to exposing herself to the public and, perhaps more importantly, her colleagues and the various school boards in Santa Barbara. But, as mentioned, we’ll keep her name under wraps … for now.
Teacher has been a teacher for nearly 20 years, all of it within the Santa Barbara Unified School District. She taught nine years in high school, four years in junior high and six years in elementary school. She currently teaches at the high school level.
She is currently on the outs with the school administration and with the school board because she does not want to get vaccinated.
“I’m not vaccinated,” she says, “but I have had COVID, and I have natural immunity. I’ve heard that it’s dangerous to get the vaccine when you’ve had COVID, that you’re probably going to overload your system. There was a study done in Israel that indicates I’m 27 times safer than a vaccinated person, and I believe in that research.”
She’s fully willing to be tested weekly along with everyone else, and as long as she tests negative, she feels she should be able to continue working.
She expressed those concerns during a recent Zoom school board meeting, but to no avail. The board mandated that everyone working in the district must take the vaccine immediately or lose their job.
“That was on a Thursday,” she recounts, “and they gave us until Monday — three days! — to decide our own fate. We had to fill out a form and tell them what our plan was. They were going to fire us the following Friday if we didn’t take the vaccine.”
At the next board meeting, however, the directors changed their minds and gave the reluctant outliers an extra month before they would be let go.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY
The administration has vehemently denied that critical race theory is being taught within the Santa Barbara Unified School District, so I asked Teacher whether it was or not.
“Yes, over the last 10 years, for sure,” she says. “Even longer because (a group called) Just Communities came into Santa Barbara Unified School District around 2005, I think.”
Just Communities conducted a series of training seminars of teachers and staff.
“Pretty much the entire district had to go through their training,” she says.
She recounts that one of the three-to-five-day, 12-hours-a-day Just Communities training sessions took place at Casa de Maria in Montecito. During the ordeal, there were discussions of “white privilege” that pit people of color against white people: “They’d have us do these exercises that would divide us and make whites feel bad for the privilege that they’ve had growing up,” she recalls, “and how people of color are way in the back and they’re underprivileged.”
She believes the intention of the training was to learn to accept bad behavior by “people of color.” She has had one particular student who swears in class, refuses to listen or participate and continually interrupts. She sends him to the principal’s office, whereupon he is dismissed for the day only to return the next day empowered by his early dismissal and is even more disruptive. He is again sent out of the class, released and allowed to return the next day.
And there is nothing Teacher can do but repeat the cycle continuously if she wants to maintain some discipline in her class. The student is spoken to but never punished, as far as she knows.
As for CRT itself, she says it is currently being taught to her daughter in Advanced Placement World History.
“They’re teaching them that Christopher Columbus murdered the Native Americans, and he is perceived as a monster. I mean,” she says, “if there’s truth to anything, I am somebody who wants to hear the truth.
“I’m sure Christopher Columbus did not do everything right,” she adds. “But to make it so bad or just really emphasize the negative side of history is wrong.
“When we learned restorative approaches,” she explains, “the purpose for bringing up something bad that somebody had done was to restore the situation. So there would be an apology or there would be some sort of resolve. You wouldn’t walk away from the situation feeling bad.”
But there is never any such resolution in the kind of training served up by Just Communities. She and the rest of the teachers apparently leave those sessions feeling bad about one another; white people feel bad and the people of color feel bad, “and there is never a restorative aspect to the conversations.
“So to me,” she adds, “drumming up all of this negativity doesn’t do anybody any good. If you want me to apologize to a Native American for something my ancestors did, that I never took part of, OK, I’ll apologize. ‘I’m sorry if that happened. I would never treat somebody that way.’ I could say that. But there is never any of that.”
She recounts another session wherein all the people of color sat in a circle and all the white people sat around the outside of the circle. The people of color were asked to write down every bad thing that ever happened to them on a sticky note and to stick those notes on a board in front of the group. Some of them became angry and some were yelling at the white people, “and we just had to sit there and watch. It was very uncomfortable.
“There was never any resolve, there was never any coming together to say, ‘Hey, I’m really sorry that happened to you. And I personally would never treat anybody like that, but if somebody did that to you, it’s wrong.’ “
Next week, we’ll examine lesson plans geared toward preschoolers, and first- and second-graders that include “Exploring Gender Stereotypes w/Role Plays,” and reading of the book “My Princess Boy.”
We can ponder why anyone would think that introducing a transgender character is important in the education of a 4-, 5- or 6-year-old. We’ll also look at the all-in devotion to the Black Lives Matter agenda within the school district.