It’s back to school season which, apparently, starts around the Fourth of July now. Nevertheless, kiddos are grabbing their pencils and glue sticks and laptop chargers – all ready to head back in a few weeks.
This also means that one of the most underappreciated group of people head back to work as well — teachers. We ask almost an impossible task from teachers — educate your kids while also providing them with a safe home for eight hours a day. Feed them, talk to them, babysit (in some cases) them, and also keep them safe.
This has always been the job, mind you, but ask any teacher you know if the job is easier or harder in the past five years. You’ll get a very strong answer.
Of course, teachers are spending some of their final days of “break” setting up their classrooms and getting their curriculum ready. Recently, this has also included fighting to have access to learning materials and books in the library. It seems that back by popular demand are book burnings! Not sure anyone really asked for them to return, but they’re back nonetheless.
School boards have been picking on controversial books recently (and even a few old classics) as inappropriate to be taught in schools. The state of book bans in public schools is a concerning one. In the 2022-2023 school year, PEN America recorded more than 4,000 instances of banned books, an increase of 28% from the previous year. The vast majority of these bans were concentrated in Republican-led states, with Texas and Florida leading the way.
The books that are being banned are often those that deal with difficult topics such as race, sexuality, and gender identity. These books are being challenged by parents and community members who argue that they are inappropriate for children. However, critics of book bans argue that they are a form of censorship that is harmful to students’ First Amendment rights.
Book bans are also being driven by state laws that restrict the content of school libraries. These laws often target books that deal with LGBTQ+ issues, sex education, and critical race theory. These laws have a chilling effect on librarians and educators, who are afraid to stock or teach books that could be challenged.
Of course we shouldn’t trust our teachers with this type of influence over our children. That is… until the next school shooting, when politicians will be encouraging more security in schools and arming teachers as a last line of defense. The pen being more frightening than a gun, apparently.
It seems that we want our teachers to be nothing short of perfect at all times. If you know a teacher, you likely know that it is a daily grind and they also get the benefits of having terrible pay as well.
Are teachers trusted to pick books or be armed? You really gotta pick a lane. In the meantime, buy something for a teacher off their Amazon list, or thank a teacher today. Some of the best among us are navigating these choppy waters to give our kids a start to their lives. Good luck, teachers!
(Get more of Chris Kamler, if for some reason you’re into that, on Twitter where you’ll find him as @TheFakeNed)