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Teaching Bigotry?

A Kentucky teacher is being criticized for writing a politically charged statement on the whiteboard in class.

South Laurel County High School teacher Kendra Baker is drawing complaints from parents and students after she wrote, “You can’t be a democrat and go to heaven.”

Superintendent Doug Bennett told the Sentinel-Echo that the class had been discussing politics around election day, and Baker wrote the statement — which is reportedly a student comment — on the board. The statement was not part of a formal curriculum or lesson plan.

I wanted to comment on this story because a frequent attack on LGBT activists claims that we want to to indoctrinate kids in elementary schools.  Look at any of the anti same-sex marriage propaganda.  If Same-sex marriage is adopted, we will be teaching homosexuality.  But as with most of the accusations against the LGBT community, the opposite is true.  The anti-gay bigots  are busy forcing insane ideas upon our kids.

But is that what this story is all about? According to the original story in the Sentinel Echo, Baker heard a student make the statement and then wrote it on the board. Did she write it out of her own opinion, or did she write it as a way to draw attention to what students were saying in the discussion? In other words, who is teaching the bigotry: a teacher, or some parents whose child said that in the class? Or, was some church responsible: the child only mimicking what had been heard from a pulpit?

The bigoted  indoctrination is only partially appropriate in some wingnut church session, it isn’t even good theology. It is these types of statements which are destroying Faith and Religion.  This is what an American Taliban might look like.

As a former teacher, I know that it can be impossible to keep one’s personal life out of the classroom entirely, and teachers walk a fine line between being authentic, and sticking to some rigid curriculum. But in the end, if a teacher is a professional,they must be there to teach the agreed upon curriculum. Nothing more and nothing less.

But exactly what does “the curriculum” mean here? The psychology class, was discussing the recent election. THese are seniors in High School, not small toddlers. In that sense, it may have been very appropriate?

The teacher apologized and perhaps that suggests she wrote it to emphasize the point as her own opinion. Or perhaps just to try and put the issue to rest and move on?

Mary Gilbert says her daughter, Chelsea was ridiculed when she tried to stick up for other students in the class. She says Chelsea is choosing to be home schooled rather than go back. “The name calling and the bullying at school, and to be honest, I feel she was bullied by a teacher,” says Gilbert.

The Superintendent says there was a lapse of judgement.

Oh, home schooling?  Now this may be taking shape. The class was debating the election results. Some far right wingnut kid expressed  this crazy statement, and the teacher posted it to the board. Other conservative leaning students tried to stick up for the wingnut student and the comment, and there was a breakdown in courtesy and civility? The teach was responsible for the breakdown because the teacher allowed the stupidity to be highlighted, and some students felt ostracized?

Was it Gilbert’s daughter who made the wingnut statement or was she only someone who stuck up for the wingnut statement?

What’s most troubling about the media attention this story has received, is the way it increases the sense of conflict, rather than leading to more understanding or dialogue. The conscription of religion and politics is a huge and important development in our democracy, and we all need to dig further into it, rather than peer at it as a spectator from the sidelines, especially when we are talking abut the education of our youth.  They are tomorrow’s voters.  Anytime we stop dialogue, we impede understanding, and we build a myth that there is a chasm between us and them: the good and the bad.  The more we build this myth, the more it is real, at least in perceptions,and the harder it is to actually make real progress.

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