Today, May 17, is an important election for school board members and school budgets in Wayne County and the state.
One would have to close one’s eyes not to know that in our county, state and nation, the gap between ideologies is widening. What is obvious to anyone who is not blind is that name-calling and slamming each other into certain camps is detrimental to our society. It has to stop at the federal level, the Supreme Court and Congress, because it has to stop in Wayne County. We slap terms that only serve to denigrate each other.
For example, woke culture, defined by which camp you are on, or critical race theory, defined by whether you have felt the history of racism or whether you choose to deny its effects.
Ideas flow to define who we are. Conservatives are fighting to end conservative ideals as they turn neoliberal, just as the Supreme Court says Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and their peers planned AR15s, Lacrosses, synthetic estrogens and surgeries; they then claim to be originalists because they protect our religious beliefs and codify them into law. In fact, our brilliant founders thought the opposite, since Thomas Jefferson said laws should change like a man should change his clothes, and Alexander Hamilton said religious beliefs should not control our government.
Our school boards are faced with a dilemma. Do they support the constitutional idea that free speech and free action are protected except when they harm others, just as our Founding Fathers and previous Supreme Courts have affirmed? Or do they choose to block ideas that teach the history and quirks of life that are necessary for our children to understand the world around them? Are they choosing to deny that minority children have a history that cannot be whitewashed to protect “innocent” white children from the truth? Do they choose to educate our children to be free thinkers?
Germany learned this lesson well to teach the Holocaust not out of guilt or revenge, but rather to accept the consequences of the massacre of 7.7 million Jews and others.
So ask your candidates for the school board what they think of a pedagogy taught by educators with many years of training and experience that truthfully teaches the good and the bad of history and the good and the bad relationships between others. Do we really want school systems that hide the lingering effects of racism, sexual orientation and experiences, individual freedoms, and the story that needs to be told? Ask them if they want our kids to feel marginalized because they’re not white or Christian or straight.
We cannot let people who might threaten school board members and school superintendents scapegoat the fact that these hateful people do not solve any of the problems that affect us all. This hatred must stop because it does not solve the real problems of this country, from our local school boards to Congress.
Dr. John “Lory” Ghertner of Sodus is active in Wayne Action for Racial Equality (WARE), Migrant Support Services of Wayne County, Kids for College, Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigrant Justice, and Rural and Migrant Ministry.