By BEN R. WILLIAMS
A couple of weeks ago, our new Governor Glenn Youngkin launched a tip line to allow parents to report any “divisive” subjects being taught in Virginia schools — particularly Critical Race Theory (CRT).
As I’ve mentioned in this space before, CRT isn’t being taught in any Virginia schools. In fact, it isn’t being taught in any schools anywhere, at least not K-12. The only place you’re likely to encounter it is if you’re taking college-level legal studies.
As an aside, the basic premise of CRT is that racism is so deeply engrained in our society that an attack on racism is perceived as an attack on society itself. Ironically, Youngkin’s crackdown on the very specter of CRT proves the truth of CRT.
Oh, but Youngkin isn’t the only politician going all-in on the CRT boogeyman. Around this same time, Iowa state Rep. Norlin Mommsen (wasn’t that the name of Steve Martin’s character in “The Jerk?”) introduced a bill to place cameras in Iowa K-12 schools, allowing parents to remotely monitor teachers to make sure they don’t teach “sinister plots.” I assume this means teaching students that many slave owners were actually quite nice and the Tulsa race massacre was merely a collective hallucination.
While I can’t speak to Norlin Mommsen, I don’t think that Glenn Youngkin actually believes that CRT is being taught in Virginia schools. He’s a smart man. I think he’s just fulfilling a campaign promise that helped win him the election, which, to be clear, doesn’t absolve him and actually makes this situation much more horrifying. But Youngkin ran on the idea that parents should dictate what their children are taught, while his opponent Terry McAuliffe said parents shouldn’t be telling their school districts what to teach.
McAuliffe was absolutely right, but he probably regrets doubling down on that one. It may well have cost him the election.
Parents shouldn’t dictate what their children are taught any more than I should dictate the way a plumber fixes my pipes. I brought in a professional to do something I don’t know how to do myself; who am I to tell him how to do his job?
But if this madness continues, parents may soon find themselves dictating the way their children are taught. They may be forced to homeschool their children; I don’t know where else they expect to find teachers willing to put up with this garbage.
I know teachers. I’ve covered school board meetings. Believe me when I say that teachers are criminally underpaid. Virginia, in fact, is ranked as one of the worst places in the U.S. when it comes to salaries for teachers.
The average pay for a teacher in Virginia is about $54,000. That’s the average, mind you, so in many parts of the Commonwealth the pay is significantly lower, while it’s higher in areas like northern Virginia where the cost of living is more expensive.
That may sound like a decent chunk of money, but teaching isn’t a 40 hour a week gig; it’s more like a 50-60 hour a week gig, and you don’t get paid overtime. And you’re probably also buying supplies out of your own pocket because your school district isn’t exactly overflowing with pencil money.
In order to get a teaching license in Virginia, you’re required to have a bachelor’s degree. If you have a bachelor’s degree in the present economy, you can probably make more money doing something else. In some areas, you might even make more money working at Starbucks, and at least there you can get benefits while working part-time.
All of this is to say that the main reason someone would want to go into teaching is because they have a passion for it. Politicians like Youngkin and Mommsen seem hell-bent on grinding that passion under their boot heels like a bug.
Who wants to teach knowing that every single day, something you say might be misconstrued and reported to the state? Who wants to teach knowing that every second you’re going through your lesson plan, an anonymous group of parents are watching your every word, just waiting for you to slip up?
You couldn’t pay me enough.
The horrible irony of this situation is that it does indeed prove that our educational system isn’t perfect. If it were, the people advocating for banning CRT and monitoring teachers would have learned how to think critically and done something constructive with their lives.