This week, our public school board posted on their website the "resolution to affirm" they approved in January with this as the final (of six) statements:
"No student shall be compelled to affirm, through speech, writing or action, an opinion that violates their deeply held personal, religious or moral beliefs."
It's in a resolution officially titled as being supportive of "parent rights" and "transparency".
I know why this whole resolution was even proposed let alone voted on and passed. It's based on templates designed by and promoted by groups who identify themselves as "conservative" in an attempt to “save” something. They picture specific topics they wish to not see promoted because they feel that would negatively impact their histories and beliefs.
As I outlined in a response to Sen. Kapenga's recent newsletter about a survey conducted by the UW System on First Amendment Rights, I'm concerned about the application of words like "opinion" and "beliefs" within the education system. This applies to all minds. Opinion and belief are not necessarily, at the very root, true. And our understanding of what is true grows the more we explore.
I do believe this resolution substantiates my assertion to both boys during the years that they do NOT have to recite at school the current Pledge of Allegiance that includes the phrase "Under God" instead of “indivisible” as it was originally written because it goes against my beliefs. My kids' beliefs at early ages are, as 99% of all kids' are, influenced and directed by my own. That’s the beginning of early childhood development.
Brennan is still under 18 and still within the district. If he decided to say the modern pledge or write an assigned argumentative essay in support of his opinion that God created the world in 6 24-hour periods of time and that each species we see was created as-is, I will question his logic. I will ask if he truly believes these things and why.
Will I get upset? Probably. Will I blame the sources he cites? No, but I will examine them and provide contradictory ones with as accurate & true supporting data as I can find. Would I email the teacher to ask questions to see why he’s writing this? Probably. That, calling, and meeting with teachers has ALWAYS been available. It didn't need a resolution promoting "transparency".
Will I seek to get myself elected to the board to get a resolution passed that I believe supports my opinions/side but could be used in other directions that I hadn't intended and actually wasn't needed in the first place? Probably not.
Public education is supposed to build an understanding of the realities of this world. I can go into it with loads of opinions, but studying and experiencing different realities will mold those opinions. Hopefully, for my overall growth and benefit. There have been many examples over time that this hasn’t been the case- either because of a single individual or a more systemic one.
However faulty and deeply affected by the society from which it springs may be, public education's goal has always been to help set children up with the tools they will need to live the long-sought goal of "a good life". What does that mean and are we providing that to all of our public? All of our children?
Just like the evolution of the realities behind our founding documents, the methodologies and details have changed over time. Thankfully. "We the People" means something completely different today than it did when it was written. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" also means something vastly different today than it did when it was written.
We and everything else in this world are both deliciously diverse and intrinsically connected. Every day we're alive should be an opportunity to explore those truths and reach deeper understandings.
That’s real education.