My son was a third grader when he first faced prejudice in his classroom.
“Mommy, we went to the front of the room to put our tally marks under who we are voting for,” he said. “When I put mine up, the teacher called out my name and said, ‘I am SURPRISED at YOU!’ Everyone laughed, and no one else put his mark under my guy.”
My son had “voted” for a very pro-life, very Conservative candidate. The other students, some of whom had parents rooting for this man, laughed as my son hung his head and walked back to his seat. Not one other student put his or her tally mark under that candidate. Most chose to put tallies under Obama’s name, choosing their teacher’s approval over their parents’ values.
Maybe I should be grateful that my son made it to third grade before meeting any prejudice. I know there are many places in the world where children don’t get to go to school at all or fear for their lives because they go, so why would I have an issue with a little bit of a hurtful comment?
I may have let it go, if I’d thought this teacher, who I don’t think was a “bad” person, was an anomaly, but she is far from it.
Over my years of teaching in public schools (and even in many Catholic schools!), I have seen an increasing number of students ostracized for their beliefs, and with all that is going on in the world today, with so many atrocities being played out against Christians worldwide, I cannot help but wonder if that kind of drastic persecution could ever reach our Western nations and how that might get started. Are we, when faced with locked schools and closed classroom doors trading short term safety while losing our children to the beliefs of their teachers rather than the beliefs we have held dear? If so, what does that mean for our long term safety and the continuation of our faith?
I remember one particular conversation I had with our middle school US history teacher who I worked with for only one period. In that one period I learned that as the Pledge of Allegiance is said each day, this man makes an obvious show of turning his back to the flag and not saying the pledge. To some, this may not seem like a big deal, but this teacher who sports a long, bushy black beard and jokes about people wanting to racially profile him for looking like a Muslim, has a huge influence on the minds of our 13 year olds.
Walking around the room, I noticed two boxes of the Axis of Evil finger puppets on display. The first held Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Hitler, and George H.W. Bush. The second held George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condaleeza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld. When I asked the teacher about this, he made a comment about teachers who have Pro-Life stickers on their cars (me) where everyone can see them.
My concern over this Axis of Evil is great, not only because of a political viewpoint, but because of two greater issues. The first is that the teacher is rewriting history, making our Christian leaders comparable to some of the most evil-consumed men in history.
The Bible tells us:
I warn everyone who hears the prophetic words in this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words in this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city described in this book. Revelations 22: 18-19
Now, obviously the Bible is of far greater significance than our middle school history text books, but if we are to be modeling our lives after Biblical teachings, after the life of Jesus Christ, and trying to convey Truth in all we do, are we not also responsible to report history without adding to or subtracting from it? Our leaders have made mistakes. Innocent people have been killed wrongly in wars whether just or unjust, but to compare that to the suffering of those under such tyrannical dictators as Kim Jon Il, Hussein, and Hitler not only hurts Western thinking, but also belittles the decades of intense suffering our brothers and sisters have suffered worldwide.
Perhaps even more disturbing than this rewriting of history is the way it is being rewritten. The teacher had an issue with my publicly displaying my Pro-Life views, but he had no issue with delivering his views to our children quietly, behind the “safely” closed doors of his classroom, behind building walls where parents need state approved reasons to sign their children out and where those parents are almost never welcomed into the classroom.
Which makes me question how many parents really know what goes on in our children’s schools?
With schools sponsoring things like The Day of Silence and Mix It Up Day and classroom doors sporting those endearing, “Safe Space” rainbow stickers, I wonder how many children and parents understand what goes on behind those classroom doors. I wonder if a Catholic child would be welcomed if she believes in one man one woman or if she would be “enlightened?” Would a boy be protected if he wanted to wait for marriage and the guys in the locker room were giving him a hard time or would he be told to understand their point of view? Would the child of a homosexual find he is made into a poster child there, pressured to promote his parent’s behavior when he really wants anonymity and to just get an academic education?
Jesus told the disciples,
Let the children come to me and do not prevent them. Luke 18:16
But, with the declining numbers of Western Catholics and Christians, with closing churches and schools worldwide, I question whether our children are being prohibited from coming to Jesus. How greatly does what goes on behind those locked doors of the classroom affect our faith? Are our children receiving an education that is intended to pull us all away from our faith? How many parents know what is truly going on behind the locked doors of our children’s schools and how many are willing to risk ridicule and more to stand up to it? How many take the time to sit with their children and talk to them about the issues and give them the power to stand up for their beliefs in school? How many children are comfortable in doing so?
As the new year starts, our children are in fact AT RISK, but not in the way our educational professionals write it up in Educational Journals. Today, the greatest risk to our children is the deprivation of their moral character.
Do you know what goes on in your child’s school? As a tax payer, do you know what you are funding? What can you do to, not only stop anti-Catholic teachings, but to promote Christian values?
As the new school year begins in so many areas and as busy schedules threaten to take away family time, be aware of what goes on even in places we should trust, like in our children’s schools; take the time to talk to and listen to your child; ask questions; read some of the books from the school library; and speak up. You are still your child’s greatest teacher. Let him see you stand for your faith.