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The teaching profession is in much danger, there is no doubt of that. Since the 1970’s, a slow rise of teacher shortages has taken place. Today, this crisis is continuing to rise in today's dangerous political climate; attacks on our educators have created a situation where teachers who once loved teaching no longer want to do so. As seemingly troublesome as it is, the future lies within us ourselves and what we can do today. I write this article to share the viewpoints of a student who stands in solidarity with educators across this nation and worldwide, who stand in a similar fight that I have witnessed in many places myself.
In 2019, I got involved with politics out of my involvement with communities dedicated to politics. In the coming years, I had studied the ins and outs of political and economic theory. In late 2022, I finally got involved in local politics, but before doing so, I asked myself, “which side am I on?”. I realized where I stood when I began to volunteer for the Illinois Education Association in September in the midst of the state midterms, that was being for teachers. In my time, I discovered I wanted to become a teacher to join this fight for our nation's children to be free and self-determinant. Furthermore, however, I discovered that the future of education lies in people such as myself, who have their future determined. As I continued to get involved, eventually seeing the Workers Rights Amendment passed in October 2022 and getting involved in school board elections, I realized how important this is to our nation, but most important of all, to me and my future. If this is so important, then, what exactly is happening?
What seems to be misunderstood is the capability of students such as myself to have independent mindsets. They accuse educators of indoctrination and political propaganda (while blatantly avoiding the face that they’re insulting their own children’s intelligence) and attack students such as myself who exercise their own will. At many times, I have been accused of being indoctrinated, a threat to society, or in some way being a part of the problem that faces society today. Not only is this further from the truth, it proves my point well enough. My dreams of becoming an educator, being politically active to the extent I am, and fighting for the future of my peers, their children, and beyond is threatening to the world that the accusers want to enforce. Many newly formed political committees, such as the infamous AwakeIllinois have been at the forefront of the attacks on educators and children across the nation. AwakeIllinois, for example, has been at a so-called ‘kerfuffle’ with the Illinois Education Association. AwakeIllinois has criticized the IEA for ‘liberal indoctrination’ of kids across the state and also takes it on to mingle their way into the local school boards. These conservative political action committees have proclaimed to care about their children and even go as far as to pretend to want to solve the failing reading and math scores in the country, yet attack students and educators alike who are LGBTQ+, or who do not align with the status-quo to their liking.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has taken to banning 100s of books in a ‘1984’ type situation and furthermore creating the infamous ‘don’t say gay’ bill that targets LGBTQ+ students and teachers alike. The W.O.K.E act that DeSantis put forth has created a situation where historical revisionism is encouraged. For example, quoting the Wall Street Journal, “Cassie Gibson was teaching a unit on slavery last spring to her sixth-grade U.S. history class in Polk County, Fla., when she noticed a paragraph in a textbook that gave her pause. It said some white Southerners fought abolitionism and defended slavery. . . The passage struck her as potentially violating a 2022 law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—which he dubbed ‘Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act’—that prohibits, among other things, teaching that people should feel guilt over past actions by members of their racial group. She said she worried what her students might say about the passage at home and how their parents might react”. To solve this, of course, DeSantis and his state government promoted historical revisionism to quell the truth of American historical development. This hyper-traditionalist stance promoted by DeSantis, AwakeIllinois, and other groups are extremely dangerous to us as students and educators, yet it is so widely encouraged and enforced by conservatives in government. But why is it so?
Simply put, it would harm the status-quo to allow students to develop their consciousness. With developed consciousness, students would become an unstoppable force. Educational reform would allow students to gain an extensive amount of knowledge that threatens the very existence of conservatives in office, hence why they do not care for it in reality. In fact, this is the reason they accuse students of being indoctrinated. A consciousness that does not align with the status-quo is indoctrinated and incorrect, therefore must be attacked and abolished.
So a question remains, what is to be done?
There is no easy answer. Educators at the front of this fight are in an extremely precarious situation. We must stand in solidarity with educators and fight for reform in our education system as much as we can. Projects, such as the Human Restoration Project, dedicate themselves to educational reform and teachers alike. Unions, such as the National Education Association, fight for the rights of teachers across the nation. Lastly, students such as myself have a greater voice in this fight as well, a voice we must exercise through all means possible.
In Solidarity with educators, we must stand.