Published on Medium on 2/25/20
As I seek to understand the current confusing chaotic state of our country, I like to see what my Trumpian friends post on Facebook. It gives me a glimpse into their thoughts. In the beginning of his presidency, I would challenge these friends by asking questions about their reasoning. I’d point out to them when they posted memes or articles that were in error or outrageous to me. I gave up after a while when I saw it made no difference. I think I was unfriended a couple of times but I have never unfriended anyone.
So one of my friends posted this article about the practice of witchcraft in America. Intrigued, I clicked. It is just the kind of evangelical screed that infuriates me, especially because it started out by praising the end of the “witchhunt” to impeach the president. Apparently, there was a binding spell cast on him at Halloween. The writer also mentions a similar hex placed on Brett Kavanaugh as he was going through his hearing. The article goes on to describe the problem of witchcraft in America, how it and associated practices such as astrology, ouija boards, and tarot cards, are evil.
We Need to Win the War on Public Education
I came of age as a professional educator before the advent of so-called education reform, which most notably became federal policy under Bush (W) as No Child Left Behind and sadly continued under Obama with his Race to the Top directives. Of course, it is even more ominous in the Trump era and an Education Secretary who sees vouchers as “the conservative answer to what ails public education.”
This reform agenda was the bane of my profession, eventually causing an early (and now blissful) retirement. It continues to be an issue I care deeply about. I still work as a substitute teacher. I still have friends toiling in the system. I still love children. And I still believe in the need in our democracy for an informed citizenry. The struggle continues even though I am no longer in the war. But in this era of chaos and confusion, I am provoked to do my part to advocate for public education.
Why is public education important? The opposite of public school is private school. Parents have their personal reasons for wanting their children to attend private school, and if they have the means (including financial aid), they will make that choice. I struggled with this conflict when my daughter went into middle school. I explored options to public middle school, believing that this was a vulnerable time, and I wanted to protect her. I arranged for her to attend an all-girls Catholic school with a full scholarship. She hated it. And the next year, she attended the middle school in our district, a feeder from a public housing project, that turned out to be a phenomenal school. Her high school experience was equally impressive, and she got into a very good college with scholarships and good financial aid.
One of the conversations I avoid but would like to be able to handle better is the one about salvation, whether or not I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have close relatives who claim to be saved and have made it their duty to save as many unsaved loved ones as possible so that we will spend eternity in the afterlife. I journaled about a conversation with a very close relative who asked about the state of my spiritual life as she drove me to the airport. I gave this entry the title “An Annoying Conversation.”
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.