Some of you know that for several years I was a college professor. I also taught high school for one year, and what a challenging year that was! Currently, I’m not teaching. I’m not sure, but I may be retired. Since the pandemic, college enrollment has decreased nationwide, so I have no classes scheduled for the unforeseeable future.
I love teaching. There is something extraordinary about watching students grow the information you provide, making it their own. As a fine and commercial art instructor, nothing is more thrilling than overhearing students debating the finer points of art! They care! They are learning!
Today I am writing to you about the current state of teaching in Indiana and, by extension, throughout the nation. In the October 22, 2021 edition of the Indianapolis Star newspaper, an article by Arika Herron and M.J. Slaby called They feel targeted’: Indy-area teachers, school officials harassed and intimidated.
The article discusses how board members, teachers, and staff are being threatened, called names, their personal information shared on social media, and in one case, blackmailed.
And why is this happening? Mask mandates. Some people object to their children being required to wear masks in the classroom. But instead of civil discourse, they have personalized their feelings, leveling anger at those who work for the schools.
What is happening in this world? In the early days of the pandemic, students attended classes online from the comfort of home. For many parents, it was an eye-opener about the challenges of teaching. Some parents conceded that they hadn’t the time, patience, experience, and knowledge to teach their children every week. Suddenly, teachers had newfound respect in the public eye.
A year later, things have taken a severe change. Teachers are experiencing the effects of the cancel culture. Sadly, as a teacher, I experienced being canceled. I was teaching two large college classes in Indianapolis. It all came down to one student who lacked morals. He began spreading rumors about me on social media. Sadly, it spread like wildfire before I caught wind of it.
Fortunately, I had the support of my colleagues, department head, chair, my wonderful T.A. s, and several students. They helped me turn around the issues created by lies and rumors. I had over fourteen years of teaching experience, with years of positive reviews, yet being canceled shook me to my bones.
The current treatment of teachers, staff, and board members worries me about the future of education. If a teacher is not permitted to do what they are trained to do, how can we expect our children to excel as adults? If children are taught by their parents that lies, threats, and abuse are tools to get them what they want, what will their futures look like?
I suspect that the number of people involved in harassing their local schools is small in numbers. But their very public display of abusive tactics is creating havoc. It squarely falls into the category of the squeaky wheel getting the grease.
I am looking for ways, and I hope you will join me to support local teachers. I realize some of you have no ties to your local schools; I don’t, as I recently moved out of Indianapolis. But that shouldn’t make a difference. There are several ways to show your support.
- Donate a lunch card, a gift basket, or a coffee gift card. Think of random acts of kindness. You can drop it off with the local principal and ask that it be given to the teacher most in need of support.
- Donate classroom supplies—items like cleaning supplies, sanitizing wipes, or disposable masks. Also, consider individual student supplies, such as pencils and crayons, which can no longer be shared.
- Voice your support through email, snail mail, or on social media. If you are uncertain about having your voice heard (especially if you have no personal contacts at your local school), contact the school administration for their recommendations.
- Contact your local school’s administration to ask how you can show support.
- Last but not least, reach out to a previous teacher with whom you have studied. Let them know that you enjoyed their class. Let them know how you have taken the knowledge you learned in their class and applied it in your life. My day is made whenever I hear from a previous student, updating me on their lives!