Clark County Today Administrator Heidi Wetzler outlines the work that should be the focus of teachers
Heidi Wetzler, administrator
Clark County Today
I’m just going to get right down to it. If your students know your personal opinion on the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe vs Wade, you need to step down from your teaching position. Your most important responsibility is to teach our next generation of leaders what the facts are, and your own opinion has absolutely no business coming out of your mouth. You are in a position of authority and influence. You have the honor of tremendous access to this nation’s youth. You are tasked with teaching your students how to think for themselves by presenting ideas and information. The overwhelming ignorance I have witnessed coming from the brains of our young people surrounding this ruling is stunning. You have work to do.
Let’s teach our young people what our constitutional rights are, and if abortion is among them. Let’s teach them how a right that is not in the Constitution, becomes a law – through an act of Congress. A law would be binding for all states. Please teach them that the Supreme Court has the final word on what is and isn’t protected by the Constitution, and that the Court may overrule its own precedents. Most importantly, please teach them that the United States is not a democracy, but rather a constitutional federal republic.
Teachers, please educate our students that change does not happen based on who shouts the loudest. What we are desperately lacking are citizens who are able to defend their beliefs face-to-face, with civility. I rarely see a young person (or adult for that matter) who is able to have a logical debate on an emotional subject with intelligence and composure. Teachers, please use your platform to inform our youth that name calling is the lowest, most uneducated form of discourse. The true pandemic we face is a whole generation unable to intelligently defend what they think they believe. Apparently, slapping a few catch phrases on a sign and standing around is the best we can do. Please teach our youth to get involved in local politics in order to create policy change. Equip them with the skills it takes to stand in front of a group of people, and command the room. Teach them how to speak to others with opposing viewpoints with respect. If you aren’t doing this at every turn, then it’s you and your peers who are creating problems much bigger than the political talking points of the day.
Our youth are not extensions of a teacher’s political activism. I believe involving young children in the hostility and emotion of morally entrenched and complex issues is contributing to the crippling epidemic of anxiety and depression today. We as a nation are robbing our children of a peaceful upbringing. If we want to solve the mental health crisis in our country today, our educators need to work to diffuse the hostility, not encourage it. Our leaders are abhorrent examples of civility. The journalism industry is lost to bias and pimped out to whoever pays their bills. We need our educators to help stop the emotional madness and recognize that a society in turmoil is permanently damaging our youth. Many of our young people are in continual fight or flight mode. I would be depressed and anxious too growing up in today’s world. It is en vogue to fight for causes, instead of fight for relationships. Cultivating and sustaining meaningful relationships is an antidote to hopelessness. Please open your eyes to this, my teacher friends.
I encourage you to teach your students, when it’s age appropriate, that there were many things that Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. One of which is the following.
“My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum on the side of change,” Ginsburg said. She would’ve preferred that abortion rights be secured more gradually, in a process that included state legislatures and the courts, she added. Ginsburg also was troubled that the focus on Roe was on a right to privacy, rather than women’s rights.
“Roe isn’t really about the woman’s choice, is it?” Ginsburg said. “It’s about the doctor’s freedom to practice…it wasn’t woman-centered, it was physician-centered.”
So, in her opinion, the ruling was flawed from its inception. This would be an important tidbit to provide for your students. She suggested that the strength of any ruling depends on the work that is done state-by-state. Educators, please ensure that our youth know that we are a federalist nation. Federalism describes the Constitution’s system of dividing political power between the national government and the states. This unique and brilliant structure, slows down the decision-making process so that the whims of an era or a temporary majority aren’t easily able to create lasting change. While this gridlock can be frustrating, it requires there to be broad consensus before long-standing change is implemented – which is actually a very good thing.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed the most expansive school choice legislation in the nation. This state is now funding students, and not indoctrination systems. Arizona families who participate will receive $6,500 per year per student to attend private school, homeschooling, micro schools or any other type of schooling outside of the traditional public school system. If parents feel that their students are not being well served by a particular school, or set of educators, for whatever reason, they will now have the choice to seek a publicly funded education elsewhere. If implemented across the nation, this one piece of legislation has the ability to change a generation. I would imagine this is why many are vehemently opposed to school choice. And this is exactly why so many, including myself, support the opportunity to take a student’s tax dollars to whichever school will best prepare them with the ability to assimilate and dissect information and ultimately think freely. Regrettably, this issue is more deeply concerning to me than the fact that 32% of 15-year-old students in the United States fail to meet basic proficiency standards in reading, math and science. That will be a topic for another day.
And to the true educators out there who believe it is their vocation to encourage independent, critical thinking and offer our youth the tools to come to their own conclusions, based on the unbiased information they present – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Keep on keeping on, and now at least in Arizona, I hope your classrooms are full to the brim.
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