Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Truth, Health, and Students

Today part-time White House resident, full-time golfer Donald Trump made an announcement regarding tweeted while talking out loud to Fox News that the armed forces of the United States would no longer be a place where trans-gender people are welcome.

At the same time the Republican Party is busily attempting to strip health care from millions while having no replacement plan of their own.

These are facts, and though anyone still supporting Trump has a purely theoretical relationship with facts, facts are still important.

These two events (no, a tweet thread isn't normally an event but the president* is too much of a coward to hold a press conference so we have to pretend twitter like a place the Kommander-In-Chief ought to speak from) directly and indirectly impact our students. See, you knew I'd get to education eventually. It's all coming around. Since they impact our students, we are not doing our jobs if we don't talk about them and look at them from our classrooms.

The president* openly speaking of trans people as unable to properly serve is an open attempt to lessen them. If you need me to go into why that's the case, you need to spend a little time in a room thinking about it. No one should have to hold your hand and say, "You see, all people deserve to be treated like people." If you counter with the "cost of their health care" line we've been fed I'll know you actively avoid facts. Short version- What he said is wrong.

We have trans students. Every single school in the country. And the second-highest highest post in America, right behind Putin, just singled those students out and told the country they are not good enough to serve. This will reverberate through the trans community, and will continue to embolden those who would rather hate than think. Since election hate crimes have become more and more prominent on campuses. This tweeted policy continues to make that ok. It's a continuing Othering of anyone not straight, white, and Christian. Othering is the opposite of education.

Our classrooms are supposed to be safe spaces. You cannot learn if you are surrounded by hate. Teachers need to be barriers, force fields that dissipate the hate before it can get inside the room and the school. It's summer break, but we can't pretend this is going to go away before we once again stand before our students. We must keep in mind the hate being spread from White House, we need to know that our schools and students don't exist in a bubble. We must have open conversations that emphasize truth and safety. If you don't feel your students are old enough to handle an explicit conversation about trans rights, there's still conversations about those different from us. Read The Sneetches. Discuss. Slip the message in there.

The attempted dissolution of the Affordable Care Act has a less obvious direct impact on our students in school. Especially for all our classes where no student ever gets sick or hurt ever. I know my fifth graders are always perfectly healthy in every way and never need to doctor. I mean, except for the kid who needed surgery. And...well, you get the idea. It would be foolish to assume a successful revocation of the ACA does not impact our kids.

How many of our kids are using health insurance for off-campus appointments? How many of our kids will lose out on the basic human right of being healthy if the GOP manages to repeal? And how many school-based experts will lose their jobs in the ACA is repealed? You think, "What can we do about that?" Call. Vote. March. Discuss. Don't ignore.

This is less a conversation we have with our students, unless you teach older kids. I wouldn't delve into the health care debate with my fifth graders, but I would talk about helping those in need with real life examples. We should be aware of what it means to our kids, and we can talk about it among ourselves as professionals who teach in the real world. Many teachers talk about preparing students for The Real World and doing assignments that would matter in The Real World. We need to walk the walk amongst ourselves too.

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