O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

This week a student mentioned that we were on the brink of civil war. Not sure what the context was, since this snippet of conversation happened in the busiest of classroom moments. In a completely other class, on an entirely different day, another student mentioned that we would be embroiled in WWIII before the month was over. There is much weight on our youth these days. My students, like all the others clear across this country, regularly practice what to do if an armed and dangerous person comes into the school to gun them down. Their last three years were interrupted by a global pandemic that has in fact infected many of them, and for some, left lingering health problems. Fear resides at the core of their being. Anxiety is discussed between them with an air of universality. They are equally troubled by what lies ahead. About our sickened planet, our dismal response to gun violence, the absence of empathy for the refugees at our border, and for the robed ones dictating over women’s bodies. They want our flag to stand for them, the queer, BIPOC, trans, questioning and demanding generation. The whole of this revolving planet is on the brink of extinction, they fear.

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You Can Disagree

Heard the maxim ‘you can disagree without being disagreeable‘? RBG is noted for stating something to that effect, as is Obama, and perhaps several other cool-headed thinkers. For whatever reason, the saying has been rolling around in my head all week. If I place it side-by-side with my mother’s advice, ‘if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all,’ there appears to be a gap. How does one learn to debate hard ideas if one remains silent? Or take inconsistent data and view it from multiple angles? How do we disagree and still communicate? It is far larger than remaining quiet, isn’t it?

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Accountability

Millions of children are packing up their notebooks and chrome books into backpacks and heading back to school. Teachers too. In my house the morning alarm is back on and travel mugs are in use. Accountability has returned. Perhaps just in time as summer always brings out my every delicious lazy quality. Maybe for your school age children too? Those of us in the building face deadlines and due dates, eligibility requirements and tardy consequences. After two years of COVID interruptions, these restrictions will feel like a straight jacket for some, but for others there will finally be a comfort in having structure back in place. The pendulum is swinging back, at least in our school district, with many reporting issues, of course the humorous irony is how accountability feels like a rarity in many of the political figures central to our lives right now. Wouldn’t you agree?

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