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Yes, Students are More Important Than Teachers

Yes, Students are More Important Than Teachers

At the change of classes just before 1 o’clock yesterday, there was a collective wailing and gnashing of teeth at the public school in which I teach.  Teachers gathered outside their rooms to bemoan the death of the education system, and plan for what they are all going to do when they lose their jobs.  This was, of course, because Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary by the Senate.  Loud, angry comments rang throughout the hallways.  Teachers told their students to “say goodbye to your education kids, welcome to Trump’s America.”  In addition to being despicable and untrue, this kind of hysteria is the same kind you hear from postal employees every time a conservative dares to suggest that maybe we should look into privatizing mail delivery in our country.  What is playing out in front of our eyes in these Cabinet confirmations is a microcosm of what the last Presidential election was all about.  People are tired of the government not using their money to serve the people.  They are tired of nothing ever changing, year after year.  The mere suggestion that we should even consider some other ideas in this country is met with derision, animosity, demonization, and outright character assassination.  This is why a majority of Americans have an underlying feeling that we never actually progress in this country.  This is why we are hopelessly mired in failed programs that once played a necessary role in society, but whose well-intended objectives have either not come to fruition, or simply have just run their course.  No business would continue to run an advertising program for a product that was no longer wanted or needed.  That would be insanity.  Not to mention immoral to waste money that could otherwise go toward growing said business that hundreds, or thousands, of employees are depending on to feed their families. 

The American public education system in its present form is only about 150 years old.  To even suggest that we could possibly have perfected it after such a short time, to the point where suggesting any further changes are tantamount to sacrilege, borders on complete stupidity.  That is especially true when you factor in the drastic changes to our society which have occurred over that short time period.  Over the years we have put many Band-Aids on it to hold it together, but the world for which the public education system was created has moved on.  Band-Aids are no longer working.  Is it completely broken?  No, of course it isn’t.  But why can’t we even talk about making some changes to it?  Liberals always accuse Conservatives of holding onto the past, and not moving forward with the times.  Perhaps they are even correct about that in some circumstances.  However, on this issue, it is Liberals who are desperately holding onto the past, burying their heads in the sand, and refusing to even consider that perhaps there could be a better way.  Shame on you, Liberals. You need to stop posturing that you are “for children” if you’re unwilling to even consider some substantial changes that will benefit them.

The people who lament and bewail this country’s lagging test scores, decry America’s place in world education standings, and who march in droves all across the country any time a Conservative talks about injecting some accountability into the education system, will in the very same breath be completely outraged by a person who tries to do anything to try and fix the problem.  Do you know who does NOT go out there and march against ideas like charter schools, vouchers, and ending teacher tenure?  The parents of children who are in failing schools, that’s who. When a new charter school is opened, those parents are beating down the door to get their children in.  I teach in a great school.  In a perfect situation, the current education system can function quite adequately.  But, in those situations where there is poverty, drugs, crime, and high birth rates paired with low marriage rates, the current education system does not cut it.  It’s as simple as that.  Teachers show up heavily at those protest marches.  Union leaders and sympathizers show up at those marches.  Wealthy people whose children are in an awesome school with awesome facilities and lots of other awesome happy wealthy kids frolicking around them, they are at those marches too.  The single mother in Detroit, Atlanta, or Chicago is not there.  And frankly, we should be ashamed of ourselves for putting the needs of people who might suffer some inconveniences or even need to re-think their career choice over the needs of the children of this country.  How dare we tell parents of children in failing public schools that the needs of their teachers and unions are more important than the needs of  their children?  That is why Betsy DeVos is the right person for Education Secretary.  Because she is not part of the system.  The system is struggling precisely for the reason that everyone who is in charge of fixing it has an investment in keeping it the way it is.  All of the insiders depend on its status quo being maintained.  DeVos has no investment in the system. She has no experience in public education. Most of the reasons that liberals are so outraged by her confirmation are the very reasons that she belongs in this position. If you are going to reform something, an outsider is the perfect person to do it.  It is not unreasonable to suggest that things like vouchers, charter schools, and changes in tenure should be considered as possibilities to help our nation’s education system.   It is not hateful to talk about those things, it is not racist, and it is not intolerant of LGBT rights.  Do you know what is hateful, racist, and intolerant?  To willfully and fervently act to prevent our most vulnerable children (poor, minorities, and legal immigrants) from participating in the same American opportunities that wealthy children have.  If your child is in a good school, that’s great.  Guess what?  That school is not going to change.  Your school is not going to suddenly get worse.  No one in their right mind believes that every single school in the country is broken.  However, if your child is in a failing school, and those failing policies are being protected by powerful unions, that school is the one that will be targeted for change and re-tooling. As it should be. 

If there is one thing we as Americans should be able to come together around, and throw out our petty partisan squabbles over, it’s our children’s future.  If you are an unnecessary bureaucrat in the bloated Education Department and may lose your job, I’m sorry.  If you are a teacher who may lose some of your perks and benefits, I’m sorry.  If you are a teacher who may lose your job, and need to relocate or find a new career, I’m sorry for you as well.  If you are an administrator who spends your day dreaming up new ways not to hurt our children’s feelings, I’m even sorry for you.  Yes, bad, incompetent, or just plain ole lazy teaches should be nervous.  You can all go ahead and march till you are blue in the face.  The rest of you should get the hell on board, and let’s try to work together to fix this problem.  The education system in America is not broken, but it is old and outdated. For the love of God, the reason we all go to school from September to June is so kids can be available during harvest time to work on the farm.  How many of our poor, under-performing, can’t-string-a-series-of-words-together-to-create-a-coherent-sentence inner city kids are spending their summers harvesting corn and okra?

All we are asking for is the privilege of being allowed to simply consider other options.  We know that not all of them are perfect solutions.  Some of those options may even bring financial hardship to people currently in the education system.  As I said, I am one of those people. So be it. The farmer who stayed mired in the past and did not move forward technologically faced financial hardship.  The car manufacturer who did not seek to satisfy its customer’s needs faced financial hardship. The self-employed photographer who did not upgrade to digital format faced financial hardship.  That’s how it is.  Liberals love to call themselves “progressives.”   The very definition of progress requires some things to be left in the past.  There is nothing at all “progressive” about the Liberal stance on education.  It is a stance of preserving the status quo, preserving their union affiliations, and preserving their own power.  In fact, it’s “regressive.”  In a follow up article, I will be addressing each of the three mentioned “radical changes” Devos’s confirmation is a good step towards, as well as why they are so important for the children we claim to care about.

Put your money where your mouth is Liberals.  Stop demonizing anyone with ideas that challenges a system that is failing millions of your so-called “base.”   Stand up for the people who you claim need you to protect them.  Tell them that union bosses, inflated salaries, unnecessary bureaucrats, and an antiquated system guaranteeing a job for life does not take precedence over the lives of their children.  Do it, and do it now, or this will have been the first of many elections where the country rises up and denounces you and your policies… On second thought, just sit there and continue to spit on the less fortunate in our society by refusing to move forward in an honest dialogue.  Dig your own graves.  We’ll take it from here.

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Step Into The Right’s Managing Editor remains anonymous for professional purposes. He is working towards his PhD in American History, and is a professor of History, Government, and Economics.

Why Conservatism Is On The Rise (And Will Continue to Grow)

Why Conservatism Is On The Rise (And Will Continue to Grow)

As we swear in our new president amid protests and bellyaching, there are many questions about where this is all going to lead us.  No one would deny that the majority of people across America, and across the world for that matter, woke up shocked the day after Election Day 2016.  Even Conservatives who kept the faith, were not willing to bet the farm on a Trump victory.  So how did Conservatism withstand the year-long onslaught from the left, and end up with commanding control of two branches of the Federal government?

Let me start off by saying that I am going to use generalizations, superlatives, and speak in black and whites, not greys.  If that bothers you, then I suggest you do two things.  First, understand that this is both silly and not possible to try to include all attitudes and opinions when you are discussing something that covers millions of people.  There will inevitably be those who say, “Since I don’t feel that way, this writer must be an idiot!”  Don’t be that person.  The second thing I suggest you do is relax and read on.   Whether the ideas expressed by others apply exactly to you or not, that in no way dismisses their validity.

For those of you who do not understand the meaning of the word “Conservative” in America today, let me help you. Democrats in the government and the media would have you believe that being a Conservative means “unwilling or incapable of change”, “intolerant of anyone who is different than you”, or “refusing to move forward”.  In actuality, it does not mean any of those things.  Being a Conservative simply means that you value the traditions of the past.  Conservatives understand that the traditions of the past are the cornerstones which every single American has stood upon to get to where they are today.  That is not an arguable point. Whether you believe as strongly as Conservatives do in those traditions or not, you cannot deny that this country was built upon them.  Traditions such as natural rights, freedom, sovereignty of the individual over the state, the social contract, a free market, Judeo-Christian foundations of morality, and the belief in the exceptionalism of this country as the rightful and well-earned leader of the free world.  These are the American traditions that Conservatives want to “conserve.”  Conservatives believe that these ideas are to be revered, preserved, and fought for.  Why?  Because, as previously stipulated, they are the reason why every one of us has the truly amazing life we enjoy today in this country.

If you are now having a breakdown, and feel the need to inform me of all the American traditions that have been ugly and hurtful to people, then please try to remove such emotionalism from an intellectual conversation.  Bringing emotional evidence to an intellectual discussion is puerile.  So let’s not do it, please.  Yes, there have been things in our American past that were wrong and downright despicable; things in our history of which we are not proud.  Here is what you need to remember about those things – they were all done by people.  People can be bad.  People can hurt others.  Any time that people are involved, there is the chance that they will do something terrible.  It was people who killed Native Americans, people who owned slaves, people who destroyed lives in the name of weeding out Communism, and people who forced blacks to drink out of separate water fountains and used loaded weapons to block their access to white schools.  It is people who abuse and beat homosexuals nearly to death.  And it is people who loot and burn buildings while pretending to be supporting a cause.  All these acts are committed by people, not ideas.  These awful incidents are not traditions of America, these are actions by people.

When I speak of American traditions, I am speaking of ideas, not actions. What makes Conservatives angry, and what propelled Americans to so roundly reject a Hillary presidency, is the constant assault on those traditions by those on the Left.  During the presidential campaign, a co-worker of mine (an admitted Liberal) said to me, “It is clear that our country is moving to the Left.  The pendulum is swinging to a more liberal nation.  Why don’t you Conservatives just accept that your ideas are dying, and give up?”  On that day, I understood why Liberals make me so angry.  It is not enough for them to think differently than we do.  We must accept that they are right and we are wrong, and give up all the things that we hold dear; give up our very foundation and core beliefs.  That’s the only thing that will satisfy Liberals.  Conservatives must fully accept the death of their value system and embrace the Left wing’s value system in its stead. They will accept nothing less.  I will not do that.  Let’s just say that our American society is indeed moving to the left.  That point is arguable, but let’s say that it’s true.  The exchange of one value system for another in a society is not proof that the new value system is superior.  Yes, there are examples where a certain new set of values has been proven to be verifiably better than the old set of values, but that does not mean you could argue that it is always the case.  A very quick evaluation of history will tell you this.  One only has to look at the changes in values that occurred in the Roman Empire, pre-WWII Germany, and the championing of the “White Man’s Burden” all across Europe during the Age of Imperialism to see that it would be an unsustainable argument to make.

There are many changes happening in the United States today that people on the left characterize as “progressive.”  In many instances these changes contradict the traditions and values that this country was built upon.  True Conservatives don’t hate Americans who support or vote for these changes.  They just do not believe that supplanting the values and traditions that America was founded upon is a good path for this country.  It’s that simple.  That view is not rooted in hatred, bigotry, or fear.  It’s a simple disagreement on what is best for this country’s future.

So be whomever who you want to be.  Believe in whatever you want to believe in.  That is a foundational tradition that America is based on, and one which Conservatives want to conserve.  Just let me have my own beliefs too. To punctuate my earlier point, what makes Conservatives so angry, and propels people like Donald Trump to the presidency, is Liberal contempt for our values.  From Hillary calling us deplorable, to Al Gore referring to Conservatives as the extra chromosome crowd, we are repeatedly told that if you hold Conservative values you are hateful, despicable, and mentally challenged. We are told this by the press, the media, celebrities, members of Congress, and presidential candidates.  This is why Conservatives were so incensed in this latest election cycle.  Issue after issue, Conservatives are demonized by Liberals for their conservative values.  At times, it truly boggles the mind.  Family, the life of an unborn child, protecting our borders, the right to defend yourself, responsible sex, and self-reliance.  Do these sound to you like values that were created by Satan?  These are not things that devils value, but you might think so if you listen to the way that Liberals characterize Conservatives who dare to stand up for these values.

One of the effects of Trump’s victory that has given Conservatives so much pleasure is the gallons of Liberal tears flowing since the election.  This does not please them because Liberals are upset (well, maybe a little), but it pleases them because it validates everything that I have been saying here.  How could Liberals not have seen this coming?  In what universe do Liberals think that abusing people would not lead to vigorous pushback?  Donald Trump did not win because Conservatives felt such a tight kinship to him, or a passionate ideological connection.  I assure you, the vast majority of Conservatives did not, and do not, feel those things for President Trump.  He won because of the vicious assault on our core beliefs, and the steady drumbeat of name calling and degradation by American Liberals.  This is not a new machination in the Liberal approach to civil discourse.  This goes back decades.  Don’t forget Alec Baldwin inciting thousands of people to chant for the stoning of the family of the man who was appointed to investigate Bill Clinton’s criminal activity.  A professor friend of mine, who is far wiser than I, was telling me recently that every year his students always ask him, “If Christians were so abused, persecuted, feared, and slaughtered for entertainment in the early days of the religion, how was Christianity able to survive and become the largest religion in the world?”  His answer is simple. When you assault someone’s core beliefs, it only makes those beliefs stronger.  Injury breeds resistance.  Donald Trump defeated a person who by all accounts should have completely run away with this election because Conservatives have had enough injury.

Being unified as a country does not mean that we all have to agree.  It does mean that we have to be respectful of each other’s viewpoints.  It’s OK that half of this country believes in the complete opposite of the other half.  Actual Conservatives, the kind who honestly value the traditions outlined above, do not hate you because you are gay, have had an abortion, or feel that there is a conspiracy of white police officers to kill American blacks.  Be who you want to be.  We support your right of thought and expression, and will fight to keep the government from forcing you to change.  We just would really appreciate it if you support ours as well.  We will never move forward as a country if anyone who disagrees with you deserves to be treated like dirt.

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