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  • Writer's pictureJ. Basil Dannebohm

Subpar is about the best we can expect, and we only have ourselves to blame.

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken

joy in creative expression and knowledge."

-- Albert Einstein

J. Basil Dannebohm

I’m of the mindset that teachers should be paid a living wage and receive adequate funding for their classrooms. Unfortunately, we've let our politics, religious convictions, and fears hijack our nation's education system.


Look, I've heard the rhetoric about teachers "brainwashing" students. But here are the facts: I had teachers who were yellow dog democrats and die-hard republicans — it didn’t impact my politics. I had teachers who were Jewish, Catholic, and Agnostic — it didn’t impact my morals. I had teachers who were gay and straight — it didn’t impact my values. I had teachers that were nuns, but you don't see me walking around in a veil, do you?

The "brainwashing" excuse is a political cop-out, and plenty of sheeple have bought into the nonsense. To date, not one of them can present me with any solid evidence that their child turned out the way they did because of a teacher. No. The formation of one’s character is largely forged at home. But it's much easier for a certain type of individual who is fond of putting on airs to pass the blame onto somebody else rather than taking a long hard look in the mirror. Speaking from experience, were it not for the positive example of many of my educators, I would have no role models at all.


Is this to say that some educators don't push their agendas on their students? Not at all. I had a feminist college professor who used the dreaded "c-word" (no, not cancer) liberally, saying that women needed "to take the word back as their own." I took sex education in a Catholic high school. Do you think that wasn't biased? However, the same educators also taught me to think for myself. They armed me with tools I needed for critical thinking. As a result of their instruction, I can look back and view some of their personal opinions as idiotic. I have a hunch they would be proud that I came to that conclusion on my own, rather than simply going with what the majority thinks. 


When it comes to brainwashing, your kids are getting plenty of that online, in front of the television, and at the dining table (assuming you eat meals together). Time in the classroom is often reprieve from the noise young people are subjected to outside school walls; and for some, the safest environment they can hope for.

The folks who push the whole "brain washing" narrative are the same people who would have you believe that "prayer is outlawed in school." No, it's not. In fact, any student is free to pray as they wish -- even in a group. What they cannot do is force their classmates to pray with them. In other words, students and faculty alike are free to pray. They are not, however, at liberty to indoctrinate. Mark my words, if you were a proponent of prayer in school and your child came home and shared a prayer from another religion that you didn't agree with, you would be the first in line to protest at the next school board meeting.


I often hear talk of "limited government." Yet from my vantage point, it seems that both leaders and the voters alike prefer that the government function as a sort of morality police and free-thinking watchdog. Don't agree? Then perhaps you can explain banned book lists to me.


Learning shouldn't be political; it should be a priority. Dare I say a moral obligation? The paramount importance of education should be a matter for which both sides of the aisle unanimously agree. Until politicians stop using our students as sacrificial lambs to incite fear in voting sheeple, subpar education is about the best we should expect. Thank goodness most teachers view the profession as a calling and choose to give our kids the very best despite us.


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