To the Trump Supporter Who Yelled at Me About My Unborn Children at the Women’s March

While I walked to the rally for the Women’s March on Washington, carrying a sign that read “Liberty and Justice for ALL” you, an older white man,  yelled something incoherent about my unborn children. At first I kept walking and ignored you, and then what I shouted back was “I wish you were unborn.”

You might be wondering why I said that. So, I thought I would offer a more thorough explanation. Please respond at your convenience and feel free to share this letter with your old men friends who are similarly motivated by a concern for my unborn children.

Dear Champion for the Unborn,

You seem to think that concerns about my unborn children should preclude my protesting the presidency of Donald Trump. You are mistaken.

Here’s why.

1. I am a 30 year old woman. I have been fortunate enough to never get pregnant unintentionally.  If I do, I might choose to have an abortion. This decision would be based on my understanding of fetal development and scientific consensus about when life begins. I truly respect your right to make your own decision about the morality of abortion based on your religion. Thankfully, no one is going to force you to have an abortion. In fact, you can’t even get pregnant. Because you are an old man! So stop worrying so much! I promise I won’t force your sexual partners to get abortions either, if you do in fact manage to attract any sexual partners.

2.  I’m going to be honest with you.  Part of the reason that I joined the Women’s March is that I too am concerned about my unborn children. In fact, as a 30 year old woman in a stable relationship, I think about my unborn children quite often.  And here’s the kicker:  I’m pretty sure that Donald Trump poses the biggest threat to my unborn children of any US president. I assume you must have not noticed this, hence the incomprehensible shouting at me yesterday,  so let me lay it out for you.

Trump aims to dismantle and defund public education- very bad for my unborn children. Trump promotes rape culture- terrible for my unborn children. Trump wants to slash environmental regulations that keep our air and water clean- disastrous for my unborn children. Trump has already begun the process of denying millions of Americans, including pregnant mothers,  access to healthcare- also harmful to my unborn children. Trump chooses to deny the urgent threat of climate change, with rising seas, food and water insecurity and imminent displacement of millions of people around the world- horrific for my unborn children.   Are you seeing the pattern here?

3. Here’s another question for you. Did you know that some children have already been born? And their lives are not all perfect? I know this may come as a shock. Maybe you didn’t realize that fetuses grow into babies. And come out of women, who need jobs and equal pay to take care of their former fetuses, aka children. Maybe you don’t know that babies need things like food, housing and healthcare to survive. Is that what’s going on here?  I’m wondering, because it seems your aggressive concern for my unborn children has clouded your judgement a bit. I just have this nagging thought that it makes no sense to support policies that keep fetal cells alive, but hurt babies and children after they’re born.

4.That’s the other reason  I marched yesterday.  For the kids who already have been born. For the hundreds of already living children I have had the privilege to work with over the years. Because  I am a public school teacher.  In fact, I work about 50 hours a week to help children learn and grow. Given your tremendous concern for the unborn, I can only expect you similarly have dedicated your life to helping real live, already born children. As a teacher with years of experience and a basic understanding of how science works, I have some news for you.

By ignoring climate change and devoting all of your energy to hassling marchers about their wombs, you are ensuring that all children- born and unborn,  have no future. By sanctioning DeVos style defunding of public schools and attacks on children with disabilities, title 1 funding and teachers, you are hurting all children. By promoting white supremacy and a president who wants to deport millions of people, you are hurting children. By promoting the interests of a corporate oligarchy at the expense of unions, the free press, kids, patients, workers, women,minorities not to mention our national security(RUSSIA) you are hurting children. By supporting a Republican leadership that has poisoned thousands of kids in Flint, Michigan, that fights environmental regulations designed to eradicate childhood asthma nationwide, and that wants to deprive mothers of pre-natal care, you are hurting children.

Let me say that again. YOU ARE HURTING CHILDREN. Actively. Daily. And not just the unborn ones- the millions who have already been born and need grownups like you to fight for them, not against them.

If I could have fit all that on my sign yesterday I would have. But now you know the whole story, the reason why protesting the Trump presidency is the best thing I could do for my unborn children.

I assume, as a champion of the unborn, now that I have informed you of Trump and the GOP’s true impact on present and future generations, you will write me a letter of apology and join the next Women’s March on Washington. Or better yet, the Climate March scheduled for this spring.

If, however, through some incredible feat of cognitive dissonance, you continue to support the GOP and Donald Trump despite your supposed love of children,  I  assure you that when  I have children of my own, they will grow up proud of their mom- for yelling back at you, and for gearing up to fight your ass for the next four years.

Sincerely,

1 of the 3.5 million people who marched yesterday (The one you yelled at!)

 

This is Not Normal- And the Kids Know it

This is not normal. Deep down, we all know it’s not normal- down to my 4 year old pre-k students. So please stop telling me it will be okay. Stop telling me to calm down.

A destructive, vengeful, unqualified sociopath is about to become the most powerful man in the world and his every act confirms his intent to destroy the institutions that safeguard our democracy- from a free press, to a just judiciary, to our electoral process, to civil rights, to public schools, to national security, to our health and to the safety of our planet. Armed vigilantes are raiding pizza stores, hate crimes are spreading like wildfire, (not to mention the wildfires that are spreading due to drought) white supremacists and conspiracy theorists are primed to have the presidents’ ear, and the man himself refuses to attend national security briefings and instead is intent on getting rich off public office, rewarding corrupt cronies and gas-lighting a nation via twitter.  This is the guy who’s getting nuclear weapons and unprecedented executive power.  This is not normal and it will only be okay if we all fight like hell to make it ok.

90% of 10,000 teachers say the tone has changed in their classrooms since the election- with new fears, cruelties and tension permeating classroom culture. I feel it too. There is more anxiety, more distraction. My students talk about Trump every day. Every day. On a field trip to a museum in Manhattan yesterday one 6 year old said, “Oh I hope we’re not going near Trump tower, are we going to be near Trump tower? I hope not, that’s bad luck.” Kid is 6 and riding a bus over the Queensborough bridge freaks him out because of the proximity to Trump Tower.  Not normal.

Election results should not make roomfuls of 9 year olds cry, but this year’s did. Presidents shouldn’t terrify children, but this one does. Cabinet appointments shouldn’t worry elementary schoolers, but these do.  I’m talking about 10 year olds actually discussing cabinet appointments in worried tones during lunch.

The kids know. They know something is at stake beyond the grown-up world of politics- something essential to their safety and future. They know this is the life or death of our institutions- our schools, our social services, our constitutional rights and the urgent movement for our planet. The kids know that this is not normal. They know that we should all be terrified and that pretending will not make it okay. That nothing will make it okay unless every progressive, every moderate, every apolitical go about my business type, every worker, every leader, every thinking conservative and for God’s sake already- every Democrat official, stands up and fights back.  Kid’s know how urgent this is. And they are counting on us, the grown ups, to make this right.

 

Gifts That Fight Back: Holiday Gifts for the Activist

It feels frivolous to even go holiday shopping with the seeds of destruction of public education, democracy, social welfare and civil rights being sown at every turn by the Pres. elect and his slew of corrupt appointees. But I think my family will be less than pleased if all I give them this year are donations in their name to the ACLU, so I made an activist  gift giving plan. Here it is:

Gifts that Fight Back

To fight for civil rights:

To support a free and creditable press:

To support women’s reproductive health:

To support public education:

To fight climate change and stand for science:

Support public institutions:

If you have more ideas, organizations or links- please share via comments! I will keep adding as I find more. Spread the word: Give gifts that fight back this holiday season!

 

Trump Vs. Democracy and Education

Donald Trump is threatening to destroy public education and American Democracy. If you don’t see that- it’s time to wake up and check your sources.

I have spent over three years writing about the impacts of Ed Reform in the classroom. But with Trump-Pence in the white house, John King looks like a sweet angel. This new presidency threatens to destabilize our democracy, civic institutions, and the rights of all Americans.

All signs point to the rise of a dictator- the press is already being silenced and discredited, our president elect is an impulsive, reactive tyrant who has no regard for knowledge, science or reality, hate crimes are flaring up across the country unchecked and public education could be completely destroyed.

Education has long been regarded as a cornerstone of democracy- the goal being to learn to question, think critically and cultivate a sense of responsibility to others and to society. But Trump is doing everything he can to discredit those who think critically- journalists, educators, instituions of learning, everything he can to undermine our sources of knowledge and information in both his treatment of the press and his views on public education.

Trump and his cronies are spreading lies to discredit news sources, higher education, and the truth.Without a free press, and without trusting sources of information and institutions of higher learning we will lose our tenous grip on democracy. As educators, we know the difference between opinion and fact and we teach our students to always find sources and provide evidence for their claims. Meanwhile, as president elect, Trump has already backpedaled on countless promises, he has lied and complained about the press on twitter, limited press access and threatens to stock his cabinet full of ignorant, corrupt crazies who think facts are debatable. Including Ben Carson. And if Ben Carson has his way with our public schools, democracy will die.

Trump himself has referred to public schools as “monopolies” that need to be broken up, (meanwhile he has vested business interests in the dakota access pipeline and wants his kids to get security clearance) and Ben Carson has said that the best school is homeschool. Yes that’s right. Home school. AKA no school. Our new possible secretary of education doesn’t really believe in schools.

Not to mention- he thinks the world is 7000 years old, he doesn’t believe in climate change, he has no experience whatsoever in education  and worst of all he wants to defund colleges and universities that are “too liberal.” Meaning he wants to use the education department to silence enemies. This is fascism.  All teachers- no matter who you voted for- need to stand up against Trump, Carson and  for our schools. Democracy depends on public education and science, civility and respect are the cornerstones of a democratic education. Democracy is depending on us.

We teach our children to give evidence to support their claims and we need to hold ourselves and the president elect to the same standards. Read more than one newspaper. Check your sources. Watch more than one news show. Ask yourself- am I really going to accept at face value what a billionaire pseudo populist who has been charged with fraud, rape and discrimination says? Is Ben Carson qualified to hold any position in government at all?

Stop believing everything you read on the internet and stop buying into the attacks on journalism and the press. There are many creditable news sources out there. Find them. Read AP and Reuters. American teachers- remember what we teach our students. Find multiple sources of evidence for your claims. Know the difference between fact and opinion. Be kind. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. Stand up against Donald Trump and his cabinet of horrors.

Here are my sources.

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/egads-ben-carson-dept-education

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-could-replace-president-trump-with-little_us_5829f25fe4b02b1f5257a6b7

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/heres-big-trump-media-story

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/us/politics/donald-trump-holdings-conflict-of-interest.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/ultimate-inside-job-donald-trumps-transition-team-sordid-new-swamp-lobbyists-donors

https://newrepublic.com/minutes/138669/brace-yourselves-education-secretary-ben-carson

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/ben-carson-has-odd-plan-the-dept-education

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/11/us/politics/what-trump-wants-to-change.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Calling All Science Educators

In the new, surreal and scary era we stumbled into on Tuesday being a science educator has taken on new meaning. Our new president, Voldemort, I mean Trump, plans to appoint a climate change denier to head the EPA, drill just about everywhere and cut all funding currently dedicated to addressing climate change.

I propose a broad coalition of science teachers, museums, non-profits, public gardens, schools, colleges and universities to come together and spend the next four years teaching about climate change and advocating for clean energy, conservation and climate solutions.  We are at a critical moment in hundreds of ways, but if we don’t take on climate change now we will lose our opportunity to do so at all. Trump is planning to do battle against the environment and we need to fight back.  If every museum, every school, every garden, every research institution pledges to take on and teach about climate change for the next four years maybe, just maybe we can stem the rising tides in our future.

We are the leaders that remain in the moral vacuum of a Trump white house. More than ever, public institutions that serve and educate the public need to band together and toil to promote diversity, tolerance, equity and sustainability for all. We need a broad alliance dedicated to protecting those most vulnerable to the hate Trump inspires. We need to come together to protect our democratic institutions and our civil, natural and reproductive rights. There is so much to do, and so much to fight for, and amidst all that we can’t forget our planet.

Please share widely.

 

 

The Day After Trump

What do you do when students come into school crying because they are afraid for their families? Because they think they are going to be hurt or deported? What do you do as an educator when you’ve stayed up all night crying at home because our country chose hate and fear but you have a science lesson planned. What do you do?

I did what I could to reassure and assuage fears. I told my students today that they are safe in our school. That we are a community and we take care of each other. That all the grownups are here to take care of all the children, to protect them and they don’t need to worry about the future. But it feels like lying. I don’t know if my students and their families are safe. I don’t know if I can keep them safe. We elected an impulsive, egomaniacal, immigrant/women/people of color/science bashing demagogue and I have personally never been so afraid or so devastated.

The only source of solace in my day was the kids themselves. That after sharing feelings and wiping away their tears, they dove into our science boat building project and were kind to each other, patting their friends on the back, holding hands. They laughed and cheered when they were able to get their boats to float. Their smiles made me feel like the world hasn’t quite ended yet and that I really would do anything to protect them.  And then one group of students made this boat which brought tears to my eyes for the hundredth time today. At least they’re not giving up.

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