Daily Bread for 3.26.23: The Whitewater School Board Election (5)

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will see scattered snow and rain showers with a high of 38. Sunrise is 6:46 AM and sunset 7:14 PM for 12h 28m 30s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 25% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1812, a political cartoon in the Boston-Gazette coins the term “gerrymander” to describe oddly shaped electoral districts designed to help incumbents win reelection.

These recent years have seen discussion after discussion of liberty, of freedom. Liberty has been as misused these last few years as any noun in memory. Liberty is an individual right or it’s no right at all. The liberty of a person that depends on the group, the mob, the horde, is not a right of being free from others’ control. That sort of liberty is a mere chance, a favor from the group to the individual that may be pulled away at the group’s discretion. 

The populists talk much about liberty so long as they describe it in their own exaggerated, group terms. See Defining Populism and Extreme Populism Presents as Trolling. They insist they represent all people, all families, overwhelming majorities, etc., and invert a traditional burden of proof to demand that others disprove them. 

The supposed rights of an exaggerated majority aren’t an expression of individual liberty; they’re a justification of mob rule.

There’s a view in Whitewater that our schools should let students (or their parents) settle disputes about behavior on their own. (That’s not merely the view of one candidate, but of backers of some of the other candidates.) 

Quite plainly: the extreme populists hope that if they can do whatever they want they’ll be able to intimidate others into conformity (students in the hallways, parents in meetings). All the while, these extremists will duplicitously describe themselves and their children as the real victims. 

The plain truth is that they’ve had some success with this approach already. Some of them crave more. So close they can almost taste it: what books can they ban, into what closets can they shove a harmless minority? 

Not everyone sees matters this way, even on the right. 

Consider a portion of the response of candidate Stephanie Hicks to Question 4 from March 11th school board candidates’ forum, video at 1:01:07 (“Minority and LGBT students exist in this community and deserve respect and to not feel ostracized. Can you commit to supporting all Whitewater students and making sure they have a voice? And then how would you work to make sure all students are accepted and supported?”):

Well, of course, my answer is yes. I mean, I think we forget, these are children, these are children 18 years and younger, who are sitting in our schools, who are coming to our educational institutions, wanting to learn, the desire to learn, the desire to be included, the desire to make friends. And of course, we have to, we have to be able to support all of those realms of whatever it is in. And so I always get hung up on the idea of like, we are there still children.

And I mean, no matter what your sexual preferences, your race, your religion, whatever the case is, it still remains the same. Like we have to be welcoming to all that enter our schools, we have no idea what happens outside the walls. And in some we do, what happens the other 20 hours that they’re at home, and all the things that they’re bringing in all those places, they’re bringing all that trauma they’re bringing, we have to be able to acknowledge that and support that.

And I think what I would do, again, I don’t disagree, I think we have to have policies in place that make sure every student that walks through that door is safe, and that they feel supported, and that they feel welcomed. And it is a safe haven. I mean, I’ve said this millions of times, and I’m a teacher, myself, sometimes the only safe haven a child has is school, because when they leave that school, we have no idea what they are facing, and it basing things that no child should have to face. Those are adult issues that most children are facing on a daily basis. And so we need to make sure that there is at least one place that they feel safe.

Stephanie Hicks and this libertarian blogger might have a hundred ideological differences, but there would be no disagreement between her remarks here and my own views. (Note well: education is not my field, and in contrast to her background as a teacher, I approach all this from a different professional perspective,) 

Now consider this portion of the closing remarks from candidate Chuck Mills, video at 1:29:03:

Well, I think that we need to get down to the business of building morale. In our school system, we got to pick it up. You got to make people proud of what they’re doing. You got to make people looking forward to coming to work every day in teaching and learning. We need to reward the exceptional people, students, faculty, administration. We need to celebrate this.

We need to get away from all these distractions. We have a lot of resources, a lot of good teachers and faculty administration and we need to get back to the to a model of simply educating and let’s make it fun. And let’s, let’s not worry about micromanaging every little single thing that’s happening around us or following a narrative, whether it be federal or union or whatever, it all comes down the pipeline, it sounds the same in every community. I don’t know where it came from, it wasn’t here 10 years ago, and all of a sudden, in 10 years, we have all this going on. Could we be the first ones to say, No, we don’t want to do it anymore. That’s kind of where I’m at with this thing. If we could all just get along and get back to the teaching these kids, making them feel comfortable.

These aren’t the same sort of answers. The former accepts that students are as they are; the latter erroneously speculates that students are what external forces have made them.

No and no again: the fundamental natures of these students come from within, not from without. One sees more of their natural expression because they have been, rightly, free to express themselves in their natures.  They’re not made; they’re born.

Now here’s a political truth about these two candidates. If Mills should win, he’ll receive less ongoing criticism for his views from the center-left (as they’ll write him off as out-of-touch) than Hicks will for her views from the extreme populists (as they’ll expect her to conform to their views despite her professional background).  

Upside down.

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