What's a Teacher to Do?
No teacher wants to tell her students that their president is a liar and a criminal. And yet, our president is a liar and a criminal. As a teacher, should I tell children the truth, and act to uphold our Constitution and Bill of Rights?
I am charged to do just that through the legally binding state and local professional educator standard, requiring me to model the democratic ideal. My failure to do so could be grounds for my dismissal. But here's the catch: doing so could also be grounds for my dismissal! What's a conscientious teacher to do? Seize the teachable moment! Model the democratic ideal of participatory democracy by writing a guest opinion, a right all citizens have, thanks to the First Amendment. Kids, listen up. Here's the truth.
This president has led us into a disastrous war through lies and deceit. It is a "high crime and misdemeanor" to lead a country into war through lies and deceit. Everyone agrees that students should have consequences when caught lying or cheating on tests. Teachers would get fired if caught lying or cheating on professional documents. Should we let the president get away with lying and cheating the American people?
Everyone agrees that children need to be protected from parents who abuse or neglect them. All teachers are legally required to report even suspected abuse or neglect. Failure to do so could even land any teacher in jail! What's a nurturing teacher to do? Report abuse!
This president's conduct abuses the democracy we all hold dear and the protections of civil liberties afforded us in the Constitution. He has jailed American citizens without giving them their constitutional rights to a lawyer and fair trial. He has allowed methods of torture that violate international standards. His actions neglect our standing in the world as a nation of peace that protects democratic values and civil rights. Should the president get away with abusing our Constitution and neglecting our democratic values?
We expect teachers to treat all students in an equitable manner. In fact, teachers are required to provide "equal learning opportunities" for all and be fair and equitable in upholding policies. Blatantly under-serving any student or ignoring any policy would put a teacher's future employment into jeopardy. Furthermore, it's against the law. What's a professional educator to do? Expose and repair inequities!
This president claims that not all legislation needs to be enforced equally. With his signing statements, he decides what laws he wants to ignore. This undermines our constitutional system of checks and balances, which protects us from dictatorship. Should this president get away with ignoring the law and treating legislation inequitably?
Students who willfully and repeatedly break school rules are bound by the consequences of their actions, and may be suspended or expelled from school. It is my duty as a professional educator who is responsible for the safety and well-being of my students to report and deal appropriately with bullies on the school grounds. What's a patriotic teacher and American citizen to do? Should I turn a blind eye to the felonious crimes of President Bush and ignore our Constitution, or support every effort to impeach this president who has repeatedly violated our precious Constitution?
Our Founding Fathers were clear that impeachment was not to be used frivolously or for any personal vendetta. Impeachment is reserved for the most serious high crimes and misdemeanors. Although impeachment should be rare, it must be used if a president breaks the law. Our founders believed impeachment was so important, they made sure it is referred to six times in our Constitution.
The lies and crimes of this president directly affect the matters of our city. Federal housing funding for Housing Authority buildings, federal grants, school funding and other sources of federal funding are dwindling while billions are wasted in a failed war that has not made us safer and is ruining our country. As this president spends billions more on his failed war, it directly affects our city's ability to function.
We in Boulder love our country, cherish our Constitution and honor the democracy it has nurtured. We value our freedom and our right and duty to defend it. Should we tell our children the truth, that we have a president who is a liar and a criminal, or wait until our grandchildren ask why we did nothing to stop him? To take impeachment "off the table" is like tabling our Constitution.
Wendy R. Rochman, M.Ed., has been teaching in Boulder Valley School District for more than two decades. Wendy dedicates this article to the thousands of students she has taught over the years, and their right to live in a functioning democracy that stands by its ideals.
© 2007 Daily Camera and Boulder Publishing, LLC.