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My New Book!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

February 21, 2023: Non-favorite Trends: Attacking Teachers & Librarians

[For this year’s annual post-Valentine’s non-favorites series, I wanted to highlight some current (and in most cases longstanding) trends that really gripe my cookies. Add your non-favorites to a crowd-sourced weekend airing of grievances that’s always one of my favorite posts of the year, ironically enough!]

On one horrifying and one really horrifying evolution of a longstanding trend.

My colleague and friend Heather Urbanski likes to point out just how far back (and I do mean really far back) complaints about “students these days” not being able to write can be found. These things aren’t synonymous by any means, but I’d nonetheless say that there’s a pretty direct parallel between those longstanding complaints and the similarly deeply-rooted history of complaints about teachers and educators of all types. Often those complaints take the form of relatively good-natured if deeply misguided microaggressions (“Must be nice to get summers off!), and sometimes they’re part of understandable parent frustration with things like homework. But far too often, complaints about educators have turned into full-blown attacks on educators, and despite its consistent presence that trend has quite strikingly exploded over the last few years.

As I traced in this Saturday Evening Post Considering History column (very much a corollary to the column on defunding public higher education that I highlighted in yesterday’s post), most of those recent attacks have been focalized around bills and laws that seek to limit, preclude, and outlaw entirely a variety of educational subjects and strategies (and even basic conversation points) that are deemed “woke” (to use one of the pejorative buzzwords these anti-education voices employ ad nauseam). These aren’t just symbolic statements, although they can feel that way at times—real teachers and librarians have lost their jobs as a result of these laws, and it’s hard to imagine that many others won’t be similarly affected (and countless more limited in performing their already incredibly tough jobs) if we don’t change these laws and policies ASAP. If that doesn’t seem to you all as well like a truly horrifying trend, we’re definitely on very different wavelengths.

But (inside baseball warning) as I draft this post in late 2022, such attacks are far from the most horrifying layer to this evolving and deepening trend. For that extremely dubious honor I’d have to go with the white supremacist domestic terrorist organizations that have created online resources and communities through which folks can identity libraries or schools that are hosting drag queen reading events, allowing these armed, dangerous, and dangerously dumbass roving gangs of aggrieved white men (I’m generalizing, but I’d stand by it) to descend upon these institutions of learning and education and their overworked and underpaid and truly inspiring employees (to say nothing of the terrorized young people about whom these idiots proclaim to care so much). To lean into that last parenthetical point, I’d hasten to guess that each and every child and family at these events is infinitely more traumatized by the appearance of armed angry assholes than they could ever be by someone living their truth and reading them a book. Anti-education trends are now morphing directly into domestic terrorism, and that’s one of my least favorite things in the world.

Next non-favorite trend tomorrow,


PS. Thoughts on this non-favorite? Other non-favorites of any kind you’d share?

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