Teachers played an important role in my life. So many of them were positive role models for the other students in my school and me.
Mrs. Fox was my kindergarten teacher. She made me and the other students feel right at home on our first day of school. Mrs. Fox helped us learn to respect each other and enjoy learning as a class.
Mrs. Basley taught me in third grade. She helped keep 8-year-olds like me focused on our work and away from fooling around too much with the other students.
Mr. Scott taught our speech class in high school. I still remember him asking us to read and critique speeches without knowing who originally gave the address. It was a powerful reminder that words alone don’t make an effective speech. The person giving the comments must be credible for the words to matter to the audience.
Over the years, Tonette and I were blessed to see our sons, Matt and Alex, benefit from many great teachers like those I just mentioned. They were focused on helping their students learn how to think for themselves and how to understand the subject matter.
Sadly, too many teachers today have alternative agendas. The actions of so many teacher union bosses during the pandemic made it clear that their priority was not the education of the students. It was fulfilling their own agendas.
Worse than union organizing and politics, many teachers are pushing their own radical social agendas. This was the reason for the new law in Florida that received so much erroneous attention during the past year.
Students, particularly those in elementary school, should not be learning about sex, period. The law was not about orientation or gender. It was about not talking to students as young as kindergartners about these subjects. Instead, it would be nice if we focused on helping them learn things like the alphabet and how to count.
Instead, we see all sorts of outrageous examples of inappropriate actions by “educators” across the country. Young America’s Foundation (YAF) has a Campus Bias Tip Line. It recently exposed a Black Lives Matter Week of Action in the Ames, Iowa, school district where kindergarten pupils were given pages with transgender characters and told to color them and pick whether they wanted to be a boy or girl or something else. It used to be that children that young were taught to color within the lines.
YAF’s New Guard featured a story about Dakota Ramppen, a middle school teacher in New Jersey for KIPP Public Schools. She recently posted a TikTok video claiming that parents are not qualified to teach their children about gender and sexuality. Instead, she insists that only “experts” such as herself should take on that responsibility.
“Parents send their kids to school to learn math, reading, writing, history, and science from a professional. But in the same token, a lot of the people who do that also think that they’re experts in sexuality education because they’ve had kids,” she says. “With all due respect, just because you’ve had kids does not mean that you are a sexuality education expert it does not mean you are an expert in sex. I mean, it makes sense. Like, it makes sense,” Ms. Ramppen continues.
YAF’s New Guard featured a story about an elite private school in Washington, D.C. The school sent an email to parents of students enrolled in its “Manatee” preschool program announcing the pregnancy of teacher Tristan Powell.
“We wanted to take an opportunity to share some exciting news with you (though you may have already noted Mr. Powell’s growing belly),” the email says while clearly ignoring basic biology.
The email sent from the administration goes on to share advice with parents about how they can explain the unusual pregnancy situation to their preschoolers and their older siblings: “For kids who may have associations with pregnancy and a certain gender (‘only girls/moms can have babies’), Tristan uses the language of, ‘some boys have bodies that can have babies, and I have that kind of body that can have a baby, isn’t that cool?!’”
Thankfully, the teacher is not a part of the science department. According to the school’s faculty directory, Tristan Powell is a speech-language pathologist.
All of this, while only 9% of Black students and 17% of Hispanic students were proficient in math in the District of Columbia. Only 20% of Black students and 31% of Hispanic students were proficient in reading.
Educators should be more concerned about so many students’ inability to perform basic math and reading at grade level. Instead of pushing educators to be social justice warriors, let them teach their subject matter in the classroom. Let’s make teaching great again.
• Scott Walker is president of Young America’s Foundation and served as the 45th governor of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2019..