Ruth Hertzberg: More liberal, progressive voices needed in SDN
I have become quite discouraged at the number of right-wing articles you have seen fit to publish in the past two days – first by David Sirota (May 24) “Laying bare the myth of “the left” and second, “A bad education bill from Gibbs and Scanlan” (May 25) and third, your regular right-wing diatribe from Morgan Liddick titled “Social Justice?” All three articles certainly make for discouraging words!
The article by Sirota, who is evidently a frustrated left-wing progressive, decries the selection of Elena Kagan as a nominee for the Supreme Court to replace John Paul Stevens. Perhaps he would not have been so disgusted if he had attended the Democratic State Assembly in Broomfield this past weekend and seen Andrew Romanoff, a true progressive, acquire 60 percent of the vote. Surely he will be Colorado’s Democratic nominee for the Senate of the United States.
The article by Jerry Fabyanic is far more upsetting as it criticizes both Dan Gibbs and Christine Scanlan for supporting a “bad education bill” – SB191. I have not read SB 191 and indeed I am not even sure what education is, but I think I know what it is not. I speak from 40 years, give or take, of educational experience on every level, including College and University as well as secondary, middle and elementary school. I can describe several episodes, some quite recent which are examples of non education!
In my 14th year of teaching social studies for the Pittsburgh (PA) public schools, I observed a teacher showing an excellent video about Rasputin, the holy man who helped to bring down the Romanov dynasty in Russia. The sound was very loud, the windows open, the teacher’s feet on the desk as he read a newspaper, and the students chatting with each other. I reported this incident to the principal … who did nothing. Indeed the next year when I departed the Pittsburgh Public Schools, this teacher was rewarded by being given my schedule. He was certainly not fired. The next non-education incident occurred at Summit High School, some time in the 1990s. This involved a student teacher who allowed a class of 9th and 10th graders to go off the campus to Claim Jumper restaurant for breakfast. I was there to fill a law requiring a substitute teacher to be present for a student teacher because the supervising teacher was absent. Neither he (the student teacher) nor the class asked me to join them as they all marched out, leaving me in an empty classroom. Of course, I reported the social studies teacher to the principal, who did nothing. Indeed the next year, he was hired as a social studies teacher. There was one year he attained the award of teacher of the year. Perhaps if a principal was required to evaluate a teacher every year, as is evidently required by SB 191, we might have better teachers, at least in the field of social studies (my field).
I have concluded that there has been a tremendous decline in learning in the field of history and/or social studies in the time I have been an educator. I don’t know that SB191 would reverse that decline, but you certainly should not criticize Dan Gibbs and Christine Scanlan for trying to improve the schools. I do not think they needed to ask their constituents whether or not improvement was needed in the schools. Actually I hope and pray that SB191 brings the gains in public education that “No Child Left Behind” failed to achieve.
The last article by Morgan Liddick, that mean-spirited critic of social justice, is full of criticisms of “Tax Revenue Program Commons,” whatever that may be. He argues that The Great Depression was worsened by the New Deal: the latest nonsensical, Republican “talking point.” Tell me, Mr. Liddick, have you fared so badly in this life that you should feel that any redistribution of tax money to those less fortunate represents the government’s hand in your pocket? Certainly my husband and I do NOT feel that way. I think other readers of the Summit Daily likewise do not feel that taxation, federal, state, or local, is robbery. It is the small price we pay for a civilized and humane society.
I would hope in the not too distant future that the Summit Daily would attempt to serve its more progressive and liberal readers with more meaningful columns.
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