The Political Agenda in Our Schools

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Donald Trump is not the most popular politician in the minds of most urban Californians. His goals, his ideas, and his background all rub them the wrong way, resulting in violent riots as well as a general distress that has permeated through every liberal establishment. Especially our schools.

As I went over in “What Value do Stories Have in Society,” the duty of teachers is to educate, not preach their political agenda. Unless it is in a government-oriented class, the world of politics does not belong in a classroom. If a teacher wants to share their opinions, that is fine as long as it is not done ‘as a teacher,’ but as an adult. Teachers have influence over the next generation and receive a great amount of trust. Taking advantage of this to push their agenda is disgusting.

Not all teachers try to sway their students to one side or another. For example, whenever my history brings up politics, he states only facts and provides both sides of the argument, making sure to leave the decision up to his students. Not only that, but connecting the politics of history to modern-day America makes sense in an AP U.S. History class. In the majority of my other classes, the teachers actively avoid discussing politics because they take responsibility for their actions and realize the potential consequences.

There are those, however, who try to exploit their power over the next generation to shape it to their ideals. Some are quite obvious with their attempts like Olga Cox, who openly called those who voted for Donald Trump ‘terrorists.’ Others are a bit more sly, subtly slipping in jabs at a particular political party. My A.P. English Language teacher, for example, sees it as his duty to provide as many sources as he can that take a swing at President Trump. In a recent article we had to read, “Spelling’s not for Everyone, Mr. Precedent,” it discussed the ways that our President lacks the ability to accurately spell in his tweets. While the main focus is on the importance of spelling, a topic clearly related to both English and language, it contains lines such as “If you can’t figure out the proper arrangement of 26 little letters, what does that say about your larger enterprise?” The author is making the claim that an inability to spell correctly in tweets is connected the one’s ability to lead a country. 

We all like to think that our fields are important, perhaps more important than they actually are. This grammar expert, Conan the Grammarian, believes that his field of grammar is somehow directly connected to strong leadership and intelligence. This writer, who is not an expert on domestic politics, national politics, the economy, industry, or anything else that is essential to leading a nation, claims that something like spelling will make all the difference. Don’t get me wrong: I value spelling and proper grammar, but is it vital to commanding a country?

The main aspect of Donald Trump’s appeal is that he feels like a man of the people. He tweets, he visits his supporters, and he feels human. We all make spelling errors once in a while, and if anything, his occasional blunder only humanizes him. He isn’t some perfect being that towers above the common man, casting a bitter shadow over those below him. Like anyone else, he makes mistakes in areas that aren’t his speciality. It should be his knowledge of politics that differentiates him from the common man, not his spelling ability. So what if he messes up once in a while in the massive archive of tweets? At least he knows that there aren’t 57 states of America.

Petty jabs at the President like this are all too common in my English class. The teacher has asked us to follow his Twitter, where he openly supported the women’s marchers and claimed that they were the “slvr lining of trump pres” (he was running out of characters). When Trump was elected, he bashed him, tweeting, “What country do you think you’re  president of? ‘Our young and beautiful students deprived of ALL knowledge’ ? FALSE!” For one, that was a hyperbole, a common rhetorical device used in the English language. Second, our public schools have fallen behind. 14% of America adults are illiterate and ranks 24th in literacy. We are only 17th in overall performance and this pattern of imperfection continues in our scored for math, science, and reading. Our schools aren’t terrible, but they certainly need to be improved to catch up to the rest of the modern world. Lastly, this type of post should be on a separate, personal account. Posting this is fine; just don’t tell your students to follow you when you use it to spread your political ideas and criticize our nation’s leader.

Some of the political sources we are asked to read are fine. One article from the LA Times that led me to write “Peace in America” discussed how both candidates and their supporters need to accept the results of the election. While it did slightly focus on Trump and his followers, the main purpose was the advise both sides and avoid siding with one side or the other. This article discussed an essential aspect of American democracy, a peaceful transition of power, that is important for every American to consider. Political articles like this one are beneficial and pushes a common American goal, not some one-sided slander.

Throughout my high school experience, I have consistently had teachers try to push their opinions on their students, particularly left-leaning political views. It has progressed past a mere statement of who they support and evolved into a campaign to propagandize and inculcate our students while being funded by our own tax money. If you are a teacher or you know one, please relay this message: schools are for instruction, not indoctrination. If you want to relay your personal opinions on politics, religion, or other opinions deeply ingrained into the identity of students, do so in your own time. Convince some of your students to organize a club, talk to those who have shown a genuine interest in what you believe, or lead debates where students are prompted to find out all the information before coming to  a conclusion, encouraging learning and the healthy habit of investigating what you hear about. This would come at an important time as ‘false news’ has entered the public sphere of discussion. There are plenty of good ways to talk about politics in school; spewing one-sided information isn’t one of them.


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