Ready for a controversial blog? Here goes. These are not my words, but I am SO very interested in what people think about this teacher's words and thoughts. I do have thoughts---one is that we often talk about that which we do not know because someone ELSE has told us what we should think or believe. Another thought is that actual history has sometimes, (not always, but enough times for us to be aware and perhaps concerned), been misrepresented in history books, so good teachers supplement textbooks with real stories. Another thought is that we don't have to "remove" books with which we disagree. We can use them as really great discussion starters for our classrooms (i.e., if parents, school board members or other community members want to dismiss the reality of the plights of marginalized groups of people, then might we want to examine the real reasons for that and if it even makes sense?). This letter to Tucker Carlson says something that I have asked people who bark about "Critical Race Theory", "Do you know what that even means?" to which I have often found that the answer is typically a floundering for words that people have heard OTHER people say.
I welcome discussion on my website and on my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. I will, however, delete comments that use profanity, as I have former students, parents of students, colleagues and dear friends for whom I choose to keep my sites open to enhanced vocabulary words rather than cursing. For me, this was definitely a great letter for so many reasons. To you, it might create discomfort. If it does, I invite you to explore that discomfort. My former Episcopal priest used to encourage us to explore our discomfort by saying aloud or to ourselves, "Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!" to subjects and conversations that make us a little uncomfortable.
This open letter is from an Iowa Teacher addressed to FOX News host, Tucker Carlson.
Dear Tucker Carlson,
Hey Tuck, I just finished watching a segment of your show. You know, the one where you suggest that there should be a camera in every classroom in order to root out… let me get this accurate…”civilization ending poison.”
I’m going to zig where you thought most teachers would zag. I welcome your Orwellian cameras in my classroom. Frankly, I don’t know many teachers who would object to having people watch what we do. As a matter of fact, I hate to tell you this Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson, but most of us spent the last year having video cameras in our classrooms.
See, I think you believe that your suggestion that people see what happens in our classrooms will somehow scare teachers. The truth of it is that we have been begging for years to have people, such as yourself, come into our classrooms.
I somewhat famously asked Ms. DeVos to visit a public school before she became Secretary of Education (https://www.huffpost.com/.../an-introduction-from-public...). It’s unclear whether she has yet to set foot in an actual public school classroom, but I digress.
I sense that you think you’ll see all of us pinko teachers speaking endlessly about Critical Race Theory leading to…
and again, let me get this right, “civilization ending poison.”
I’ve been in a lot of classrooms (more than you I am willing to bet) and think you’re going to be disappointed on that front. What happens in America’s classrooms is teaching and learning.
Your “spy cameras” will see teachers and students working together to be better every day. I’ll tell you what I saw on a tour of classrooms not that long ago.
I saw a group of kindergartners trying to create bridges over running water with basic classroom supplies in a lesson about collaboration. I saw a high school literature class talking about the character development in The Glass Menagerie. I saw a middle school history class participating in group project where they had to solve problems in a fictional city, with specifics of how they would utilize resources and build public support for their projects.
Anyone watching your cameras will see learning…
all day every day. For those who watch your “nanny cams” carefully, they’ll see a lot of other things as well. They will see teachers working with students who have vastly different life experiences.
They will see students who are fluent in multiple languages working with teachers to become proficient in yet one more language. They will see students who are hungry get their one solid meal a day in the cafeteria. They will see students itching for more fine arts, industrial technology, or world languages to be offered in their school. In my classroom, if we’re being honest, they’ll probably hear some sketchy intonation from my saxophones, and I promise we’re working on it. But for sure, they will see learning… all day every day.
To be honest, I’m fascinated by the logistics of your proposal. In a world where school districts are struggling to recruit and maintain teachers, who is going to man your “citizen review boards” (setting aside the fact that public school teachers already answer to publicly elected school boards)?
For instance, in my school district I sense you would need well over 500 cameras going every day. Who watches those 500 screens 10 hours a day (I want you watching my 7 am jazz band and my after school lessons)?
What qualifications would these “experts” need to know what they were watching for? What happens when they catch a teacher teaching… let me get this right… ”civilization ending poison?” Who do they report that to? I’m also curious who will pay for all of this incredible technology.
Maybe I missed it, but can you point me to a K-12 institution where Critical Race Theory is being taught? Hell, can you define Critical Race Theory for all of us? I’m sure you’ve got answers to all of these questions.
Frankly, I’ve never been able to figure out, instead of dreaming up Orwellian plans to have Big Brother in all of our classrooms, why you don’t round up an army of bright young conservatives to actually step up and teach?
Is it because teachers work hard, aren’t paid as much as those with similar educational backgrounds, don’t have support from our elected officials, constantly serve as punching bags for those who don’t understand public education, or is it just because it’s easier to throw rocks at a house than to build one?
Here’s the real deal Tuck, I grew up with my mom making me eat your family’s Salisbury Steaks once every couple of weeks (his family makes Swanson TV dinners) for many years. I struggle to take advice on teaching and learning from a guy who makes a steak that, on its best day, tastes like shoe leather that has been left out in a goat pasture for a few weeks.
I get that Critical Race Theory is your latest attempt to scare your easily manipulated demographic, but let’s just admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
With all of that being said, count me on the cameras Tucky. Like many teachers, I’m in the early stages of understanding Critical Race Theory (most of us hadn’t heard about it until you and your people started crying about it), but if you find me teaching it, have one of the Tucker Youth watching your surveillance devices let me know.
If Critical Race Theory involves talking honestly about American history, I’m probably doing that sometimes. I spent much of the last six years advocating for a way for teaching to become more transparent, and in the dumbest way possible, you are joining that crusade. Let’s make this happen TV Dinner Boy.
Patrick J. Kearney