Education happens outside the classroom too.

Education entails more than what happens inside the brick-and-mortar of a classroom, or online in the course’s Blackboard page.  It’s our duty as Americans to do the following every day:

* Watch and listen to the news.  Not just MSNBC or Fox, but to get the ideas from right, left, and middle.
* Take a course or read a book to educate themselves on the Constitutional history of the United States and the Federalist Papers written by our Founding Fathers
* Once and a while at least, make sure you write your President, Senators, Congressmen and State Legislators to voice your opinion if you differ with them on an issue, or want to express your support for upcoming legislation.

I believe the main problem, the reason that government is not listening to us is because they believe we’re not listening to them.  Therefore a politician feels free to  say and promise anything on the campaign trail in the hope that we won’t call them out on it.  In the current election, polls show that despite the fact that more Americans take Trump’s side of most issues, they still favor Clinton.  Although the vote is, not, and should not be denied to anyone, along with rights come responsibilities to educate ourselves about our history, Constitution, basic supply-side Economics, and make sure you do your research into candidates to go beyond the soundbites.  Elected officials are put into office by us, and they work for us.  So it’s our duty to give them reviews, scrutinize their work, and fire them when they don’t do their job.

I believe that politicians, for the most part, count on ignorance.  If we are unaware of the fact that taxing the wealthiest Americans even at 100% could not cover our national budget for one year (source: http://goo.gl/XBV3Ib), then we are more likely to buy into Bernie Sanders’ argument for free college and health care, because we believe him when he says that will work.  No matter who occupies the White House or Congress, a truly educated and well-informed public is our best “inoculation” against oppressive government, because if they know that we will hold their feet to the fire, one would be surprised how much they start looking out for our interests.  Not even the wealthiest campaign contributor can undo a strong, well-informed public who knows not only who to pull the lever for, but why.  News and politics are not the “in” thing, and many people avoid it because it’s a potentially controversial topic.  But if we pay more attention to who’s winning “Survivor” than who’s winning the primaries, we can not make informed decisions about who to trust with our national interest, and also in a self-feeding loop, only makes us more vulnerable to political rhetoric, making us hate politics more, and pay less attention…  So the best way to get Congress and the President to do what we want, is the threat of losing what they really want – the vote.

Here’s my “homework assignment” to you all.  Please educate yourself.  Watch the news, not just Fox News or MSNBC but an eclectic spectrum of political thought. Read a book on the Constitution, our Founding Fathers, the basic laws of Economics and History.  Below are some places to start.  In this blog in the coming weeks and months, I will pass along more sources that I have found useful.  Read them and decide for yourself.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT:

  • Hillsdale College is a college in Michigan that takes no Federal funds, and have a variety of FREE courses on Constitution, government, history and economics.  Do yourself a favor and sign up, I think it will open your eyes.
  • Politifact and Factcheck, just like Joe Friday, looks at “just the facts, ma’am” and sorts the truth from the lies of all nationally prominent politicians.  Does your President or Senator make a claim or statement that seems wrong to you?  Here’s a place to get an unbiased analysis of their statements.
  • Article V Convention of States seeks to call a convention to help take our states back from government overreach.  Even if you decide not to participate, there are many good reading resources on this page.

Introduction Part 2

One more addendum I want to make to my introductory message.

The title of this blog is “Conservative Educator” and the URL uses the word Libertarian.  Often times I will use these words interchangeably because
1) The first is a belief, the second is a party.  There are liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats.  There are left-leaning and right leaning Libertarians, and in between.
2) So my Conservative and Libertarian beliefs, while not exactly the same, have a very large overlap.  Some exceptions are drug legalization and same sex marriage.  Most conservatives would be against these but a Libertarian will generally believe that the concept of  personal freedom (as long as you’re not impinging on someone else’s freedom) means that the government should stay out of your medicine cabinet and your bedroom as well as your wallet. With that said…

I also believe that despite very vocal people on the extreme left and extreme right, that most of Americans ARE libertarian, or at least moderate at heart.  I have a theory that most people’s common sense does align with Libertarian principles, but of course I will never propose to tell anyone what to think.  My goal is to present people with the facts and let them make their own decision.
 
If you want to be able to choose your child’s school, if you don’t want to allow boys into the same locker room as your daughter, if you know better how to educate your child than a Federal Bureaucracy, if you think that the government wastes too much of your money and is too intrusive into your life, if you believe that taxes are too high, believe that it’s none of the government’s business if you choose to take marijuana or not, or who you can and cannot marry.  If you believe in self-determination, you just may be a Libertarian at heart.

Introduction

I think that the 4th of July is the best time to make my initial entry.  I’m afraid that too many of our young people are ignorant of what the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, liberty, freedom, rights, and tolerance really mean.  This is partly our fault as educators.  Education has an unfortunate reputation as indoctrination factories for America’s children and college students.  Too many people are unaware of the documents, liberties, and expression of rights that have made our countries strong.
 In two decades of teaching, that has been partly my experience.  I’ve taught at a school whose monthly union meetings were half-filled with political complaints about our governor and “social justice,” and yet I’ve been to other schools that have very good union-board relations, where politics is rarely, if ever, spoken of.

My experience may be semi-unique is that prior to teaching, I had held private sector jobs, I’ve put in the time in places where I’ve had to pay for health insurance.  I find most of the left-leaning teachers I’ve known in the past have had teaching as their only career.  So they move from one hall of academia to another.  The real world is just like any academic subject, you need experience to really appreciate it.

I’ll finish this entry by assuring what I believe to be a “silent majority.”  There ARE professional educators who…

  • believe that it’s our responsibility to educate students about the origins of our country and the importance of our Declaration and Constitution.
  • believe that partisan political speech has no place in a classroom setting
  • believe that diversity means more than diversity of race – that diversity of ideas are just as important.
  • believe that school vouchers are NECESSARY to improve our education, that there’s no reason that private enterprise and competition can’t be part of the educational process.
  • believe that simply spending more on education is not a panacea for improving learning, that those who complain about lack of educational spending should see that the U.S., despite among the top per-pupil spenders on education in the world, still is very mediocre in its results
  • believe that Common Core and No-Child-Left-Behind are unreasonable intrusions of the Federal government into choices that should belong to principals, teachers, and parents, rather than top-down bureaucracies. 
  • believe that the Federal Department of Education serves only the purpose of top-down educational bureaucracy, and since its existence is contrary to the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is completely unneeded.
  • believe that alternatives like charter schools, private schools, and home-schooling should be not only tolerated, but encouraged.

    Finally we believe that it’s the job of schools to prepare students for the future, careers, and make them more knowledgeable and informed citizens.  While development of self-esteem is undoubtedly important, it does not come at the expense of the above goals.  Two + two does not equal 5, no matter what your “feelings” of it are.  Let the boys use the boys room, the girls use the girls room, and stop giving out participation trophies.  The world out there doesn’t care about your feelings, will not provide safes spaces of give trigger warnings, and will often present you from ideas you’re uncomfortable with.  Education does a child no service if its goal is to shield students from uncomfortable thoughts, especially at the expense  of giving students what they need to succeed in American and world societies.