Today is Mother's Day -- which gives me a perfect vantage point from which to reflect on the children and grandchildren in our family. It also brings to mind a 5th grader in my school who gave me a gift the other day -- one of those multi-colored "rubber-band" rings. My reflections and that simple gesture -- that silly little multi-colored "rubber-band" ring -- said it all. For you see, that student walked with classmates of all persuasions and they liked each -- some perhaps loved each other in the sense that good, lasting friendships have built-in. So you see....
NO -- I will not be bullied by this push to assert that group membership defines the essence of humanity. NO -- I will not play into this identity politics and narrative that asserts a belief that one race made, makes, and continues to make everything horrible for another race. NO --I will not teach one child to hate another because their skin color is different. NO -- I will not each any child that they are not capable of achieving the best that God has bestowed upon them -- individually and not as part of a group -- because "someone else" won't allow this because of some implicit privilege. NO -- I will not teach any child to hate our country -- the best that this world can ever imagine -- warts and all. The Declaration of Independence does not need to be rewritten, it needs to be re-read. NO -- I will not teach any child that the greatest country on earth is a 400 year old system of racist oppression and that institutionalized racism has, as the Virginia Commission on African American History Education proclaimed, "...seeped into systems that impact every individual and every aspect of American life, including our classrooms". Rather, I WILL teach them that America is exceptional because of its continuous pursuit of liberty and justice for all to keep that promise of a more perfect union.
So, I guess by now you want to hurl the word "racist" at me. Go ahead, I have my "big-girl pants" on -- and I am not afraid. Courage, like anything else, has to be practiced every day - one brick at a time. I am not a racist, never have been, never will be. I believe that every SINGLE person has the ability, the right, the opportunity to be the very best that THEY can be -- not because they belong to a group or not belong to a group -- but because they are who they are. I am neither a victim nor privileged, but it is not acceptable to blame the world's woes on me because I am White. It wouldn't be acceptable if it were reversed. My life -- accomplishments and failures, warts and all -- has been shaped by the family lessons learned and MY decisions, MY efforts, MY hard work. Will outcomes turn out the same for everyone? NO -- the strength of our culture and humanity is that we are all different. So, when someone tries to guilt you with the term "equity" and how could you not believe in that -- you better understand what is really being said. Could I have become a rocket scientist or an astronaut? NO -- but not because "some group" prevented it, but because I didn't have the skill set in myself to be it. What is key, though, is that I had the equal opportunity to pursue it.
Now you want to add a component to an evaluation tool to judge my ability to be a teacher on whether or not I can be "successfully indoctrinated" by these attempts to rewrite our history and to make sure that I am "culturally responsive". It's insulting enough for the AAHE Commission to imply -- implicitly (there's that word again) -- that because 52% of Virginia's students are young people of color while 82% of Virginia's educators are White that they are being educated by people who do not "...understand what it takes to adequately teach African American history", and as such "...demonstrates a need for more robust professional development to equip the Commonwealth's largely White educator workforce to engage in culturally responsive pedagogy that facilitates deeper learning opportunities and a sense of belonging for their students". NO -- you will NOT hurl group guilt, class guilt, racial guilt -- whatever you want to define it as -- onto me.
To imply that the color of one's skin determines the level of human understanding and connection that people can make with each other is unacceptable. I want you to hear that loud and clear -- it is not acceptable. Should only Jewish educators teach Jewish children? Should only Germans teach Germans? But don't kid yourself into thinking that separating and dividing us on the premise of being against racism is not the implicit agenda. Remember Amanda Gorman? The up and coming poet at the presidential inauguration? The poet who wants to be identified with an oppressed group? This is the same poet who attended a private school in Santa Monica with a tuition averaging $42,000/year; and don't forget her Harvard University education. Just recently, her poetry was to be translated into Dutch. The translator initially selected was chosen based on linguistic ability and skill, not to mention that the "woke crowd" was thrilled with the translator's preference for the pronouns "they/them". But, that translator was CANCELLED because of the color of their skin. You guessed it -- they were White, and as such could not possibly be able to understand the poem's sentiments. Is that where we are going?
You want to judge my teaching ability on whether or not I can "deliver" this new "think", this new narrative of history. Think again. I have no objection to reviewing curriculum content. But do it through more than one lens. Have the courageous conversations. If you want to talk about slavery, then present the complete picture not a targeted view. Slavery was not -- and has never been -- just an American horror. Those wanting to "educate" me -- and then "quantify" my teaching ability should thoroughly educate themselves on all the components and players that comprised the slavery issues -- not the least of which is that it was not only Whites who owned slaves.
I will not contribute to a world -- to a future for OUR children -- in which division and hate, applied victimhood and fault decide their path. To paraphrase Douglas Murray, a British author and political commentator, we each only really have two choices: To speak the truth and like ourselves OR to continue to speak falsehoods and learn to hate ourselves. As H. Jackson Brown so eloquently stated, "Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you." So, you know which choice I made.