(Dear Government Teachers, I’m sorry in advance for any shit I got wrong in this post. I suck at the politics.)
Why is this woman in my head? Why are we still giving her media coverage? Why am I adding to the general mess?
Maybe it’s because she reminds me of students I’ve had and people I’ve known whose self righteous approach to everything makes me think that they have already mapped out my personal spot in Hell where I will burn for whatever sin I committed that day. One recent sin was definitely following the Twitter account Sitnextto Kim Davis which was full of profanity (yeah!) and satire. But it made me sad to see all the people who claimed to have joined Twitter just so they could a.) get this evil blasphemous account shutdown, b.)make sure that the evil human who made the account about an imaginary coworker went straight to Hell, or c.)made it clear that they failed the satire/humor unit in high school.
Maybe it’s because her “cause” has given so many supporters, including public figures, a voice for their own hatred and prejudices because they’ve zeroed in on a martyr. It’s Crucible season right now in my classes, and the opportunity to take out grudges and personal vendettas is one of the theories behind the accusations of witchcraft. Once little Anne Putnam got the ball rolling with the beginning accusation, her friends and neighbors readily jumped on board. They were just being good Puritans after all.
Maybe it’s because of the twisted views that have compared her to civil rights activists who were fighting for ALL people to have equal rights rather than targeting and diminishing the rights of one part of the population. Let’s be clear: Ms. Davis has the right to believe and practice her religion. She does not have the right as an elected government official to impose her religious views on other people via her government job. The usually snarky George Takei explains it well in the linked article. (Who knew Mr. Sulu had so much to say?! Oooohhhh my!) I assume that when laws banning interracial marriage changed so that humans of any race could marry whoever they wanted (anarchy! madness!), there was probably some clerk and some “good” Christians out there protesting and denying marriage licenses to mixed race couples. Fortunately, Twitter and Facebook weren’t around at the time and people could just ignore the shit out of them until they got tired of yelling about their rights to be total douche-bags.
Don’t worry. Everyone’s right to be complete douche-bags is safe, but we still have to follow the established laws (Separation of church and state can NOT get separated enough for me.) and we still have to be able and willing to follow the requirements of our individual jobs, elected or otherwise.
That’s kind of the bottom line. Do your job, or choose not to and leave your job. It is tempting to bypass that idea as well as Davis’s hypocrisy on the sanctity of marriage and just go straight for the denim jumper. I read a great post that talked about how we often bypass the real issue and attack a woman’s appearance- “slut shaming”- and in the case of Davis’s geographic location of Kentucky, we revert to “hillbilly shaming.” (I am totally guilty of blaming Kentucky for many things.)
I am also totally guilty of being a douche-bag and a hypocrite and cannot help, but point out that Kim Davis really and truly looks like the television and movie stereotypes of every cult leader, cult member, witch accuser, and generally crazy eyed “let’s sacrifice the child!” character ever. EVER.
However I am a douche-bag and a hypocrite who does her job. I like my job. I like having an income. So even though there are aspects that I don’t like sometimes, don’t agree with sometimes, or that I don’t always want to do, I do them anyway because otherwise I WOULD BE FIRED. I am told that this is how jobs work.
But what if I did not do my job as a teacher and started making my own demands and personal exceptions for my classroom? I’ve been contemplating what that might look like. I don’t have any fervent faith to use as an out, so I’ll file this under I DON’T WANNA and THINGS THAT MAKE ME FEEL ICKY ABOUT HUMANITY.
I DON’T WANNA and THINGS THAT MAKE ME FEEL ICKY ABOUT HUMANITY.
- No grading essays! I will grade projects, tests, presentations, and maybe an exit slip here and there, but NO ESSAYS. There are no good essays. Stacks of 80+ essays hurt my soul. Half of them are usually copied and pasted from shmoop.com notes anyway so here’s an F+ for having the skill to copy something.
- Refuse to engage or respond to irrational screaming parents or mommies who write five paragraph essays about “the incident.” Nothing that happens on a regular day is worth me being screamed at, or responding to manifestos. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Ignore state teacher evaluations that use weird mathematical algorithms to measure my worth as an educator while ignoring any of the hundreds of daily things that can go right or wrong in any class.
- Exempt my students from standardized tests. See above for weird algorithms and shit that can go wrong…or right depending on the alignment of the stars.
- Drug dealers and drug users will be banned from my classes. If you just gasped in horror and thought “That doesn’t happen at my child’s school!” then you are as delusional as the people who think Kim Davis is the next Rosa Parks. (Warning: broad generalization ahead) At every school everywhere there is at least one kid who everyone (student body, teacher, and admin) knows is a drug dealer and there are any number of children who are generally high as kites. The problem is in catching and prosecuting either party. I’m just going to make a list of names and submit those for schedule changes.
- No more 7:30 a.m. I will roll in by 9 a.m. at least. I might as well, I rarely leave my desk before 5 p.m.
- Students who can’t spell their own names, but whose mommies are convinced that they are college bound will be immediately transferred to a class where they can get really focused help at basic skills rather than trying to figure out blindness versus sight in Oedipus Rex. The mommies will simply cut that tuition check in my name.
- Refuse to tolerate or have in my room any student whose attitude, actions, and distractions suck up my attention in a negative way. Sometimes it only takes one student to completely change the chemistry of a whole classroom. The entire class suffers, and you know it’s bad when other students are apologizing to you on the side for the distracting student’s words and actions. As a teacher, you can try to work with that student to change behaviors or create a workable solution, but if he or she is unwilling to recognize any need for change then it becomes poisonous. These students are often bred and supported by the screamers and manifesto writers- see above.
- I will remove students that I know too much about. Teachers get a lot of back stories from parents, students themselves, other teachers, principals, and guidance counselors. Sometimes those back stories are helpful, sometimes horrifying. Even though I have been told that this student was suspended for bringing a weapon to school, is a drug dealer, did jail-time for assault, was repeatedly molested or is the molester, or will become violent at a moment’s notice, I have to push this info to the back of my brain, stop the inner screaming, keep smiling and treat this kid like everyone else. This is difficult. I don’t wanna.
- I will not engage, tolerate, or respond to complete nutbags who want to alter the classroom curriculum for all students in order to accommodate their moral agendas and prevent their own children from reading some evil literature. (Kim Davis? Whatcha readin’?) There is generally very little logic at play in these situations. For example, I had a student who was not allowed to read The Crucible because it mentions witches and witchcraft..or at least that was my assumption since any request for an explanation was met with a manifesto that explained nothing except how I had no right to ask any questions. It did not matter that the play is referencing two actual historical events: McCarthyism/The Red Scare and the Salem Witch Trials.It did not matter that this is a play that talks about witches, but there are no witches in this play. There is definitely evil in The Crucible, but it is purely a construct of human nature and the human flaws of pride, envy, sloth and vengeance.
The reality is that there are no witches in my classroom except me on a bad day. The reality is that I will never be able to do anything on the list above especially the ones that seem to confirm my douche-bag status and impose my sense of morality on others. The reality is that despite the ugliness of some attitudes and actions, my job means working with everyone, being as tolerant as possible of a multitude of perspectives, and trying to meet the standards that my district and the state hold me to.
Because it’s my job.