Monday Reads: The Miseducation Agenda

The public library in Council Bluffs opened in 1866.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

There is nothing more telling about the state of discourse in our country than the move to censor and replace materials in libraries and public schools with pure nonsense and propaganda. As a child, I spent a great deal of the summer in the old Council Bluffs, Iowa Library doing the children’s reading club.  My mother took us to the local library at least once a week.

I don’t know if you can see the inscription on top, but it reads “Free Public Library.”  The city built a new library, but the Carnegie-funded library is now standing as a Union Pacific Railroad Museum.  I currently use another Carnegie-funded library in my neighborhood in New Orleans which features a Drag Queen storybook hour for kids. People come from out of the Parish to protest that, but everyone here is thankful for the creative time to read books together and discuss the one thing kids like to do which is play ‘dress-up.’

The Public Library–now closed–in Vinton, Iowa.

The public library in Council Bluffs when a subscription library was established for males over the age of 12. Libraries now strive to be more inclusive unless their town goes all Fahrenheit 451 on them. This is from CNN: “Iowa library temporarily closes after full-time staff leaves following complaints about ‘liberal agenda’ in book selection.” Rather than shrugging off stuff they don’t like and simply choosing not to read it, the Trumperz Thought Brownshirts would rather close the place down.

A small-town library in Iowa is scrambling to reopen after community complaints about its book selection prompted full-time staff members to resign.

The controversy started over complaints about books on display for children with information on the LGBTQ community, according to Jimmy Kelly, board chair of the Vinton Public Library.

“They would like balance that for every book that talks about LGBTQ issues, that there also be a book describing traditional gender expression,” Kelly told CNN Thursday.

“The people basically accused the library of having a liberal agenda,” he added.

“A reconsideration policy allows you to object to materials or programming in which the library is joined. Libraries have this, it’s very common,” she added. “It protects the library staff, it protects the library board as well as the person who is making the complaint. It is a wonderful process.”

The content complaints followed complaints last year the library had a children’s book about Vice President Kamala Harris and one written by first lady Jill Biden, but no children’s books about former President Donald Trump, according to Kelly. It resulted in McMahon’s resignation, he said.

Since resigning last year, McMahon took a job as the library director in DeWitt, about 90 miles away. She says the controversy leading to her decision to leave the Vinton community was unfortunate.

“It was very sad. I really liked working with the city department heads I worked with,” she said. “I had a great staff and there were a few people on the library board who I thought were fantastic, but it was just the atmosphere, and we all will choose a location of where we live or where we work by what matches our personalities and I just did not feel that I needed that extra stress in my life.”

McMahon said she also heard complaints there were no books about former President Donald Trump in the display.

“These were children’s books, these were picture books, and I did my due diligence. Did I miss someone? Did someone write a nice book about the former president? The answer at that point was no. I don’t know if there’s something now, I don’t know,” McMahon told CNN.

The Alvar Library in New Orleans, Lousiana

So, my first thought is just about every book in a collection is about traditional expressions of gender. It shouldn’t need to be singled out in a diatribe. My second thought was is there no wonder that no respectable children’s book author doesn’t want to write a book describing a corrupt, twice-impeached traitor with a wife that did soft porn? I mean seriously, how is that something a small child should be reading about?

But even more seriously, what is Governor Rick DeSantis doing to the Civics Curriculum in Florida?  If this isn’t lies and propaganda being pushed into Public Schools what is? I have slave owners in my family tree. Many of them signed the Declaration of Independence. Two Signed the Constitution.  One of the buggers that signed the US Constituion of the US was an ever not so great Uncle from South Carolina  who was the Governor at one point and wrote the Fugitive Slave Act. My own Uncle helped pen and argued for the Japanese Internment Laws before SCOTUS during Wolrd War Two. The last one particularly hits home to me because my mother-in-law was Japanese so my ex-husband, daughters, and granddaughters are of Japanese descent.

I imagine that most of my relatives–including me–lived on land stolen from Indigenous people. Why hide where they fucked up?  My mother took me around the country showing me where all this happened in the hopes that my knowledge would make sure it never happened again. Those dead people never had an ounce of an impact on me.  However, my mother, local librarians, and public school teachers sure did. Some in ways they intended, others in ways they did not.  The further I got in education, the more I learned that all of our history is not pleasant, it happened, but it should not happen again. It need not be covered up.  I trust our education to determine how and when to elucidate the impact of slavery, of the Indigenous relocation pogroms and reeducations schools, Japanese internment, and the system of immigration that favors some races over others. Then, we work to tear down the remanents that harm our modern society and correct them.

From NPR: “Florida Gov. DeSantis takes aim at what he sees as indoctrination in schools”  It’s always the same with these guys.  Projection! Slavery and Indigenous relocation and massacre are at the heart of our history and considered women to be property until after 1849.  That’s not part of the past that should be glossed-over or celebrated with some pantomimes with kind pilgrims, dancing slaves, and always happy mothers.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made it clear how he views public schools and what they’re teaching children: He doesn’t trust them.

At a recent news conference, he returned to a familiar theme.

“Following woke indoctrination in our schools, that is a road to ruin for this country,” he said. “And we’re not going to let it happen in Florida.”

Since becoming governor in 2019, DeSantis has become known for taking combative positions on controversial issues, including education. He recently signed a number of measures aimed at preventing the sort of “indoctrination” he and his Republican supporters fear is taking place.

His “Stop Woke” act sets limits on how issues involving race may be taught. And it allows parents to sue teachers and school districts that violate it.

Another measure, the Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, bans any instruction involving sexual orientation or gender identity in the earliest grades and says beyond that it must be “age appropriate.”

In a June interview with the Christian fundamentalist group, Focus on the Family, DeSantis said he believes there’s a “concerted effort to inject … gender ideology and sexuality into the discussions with the very youngest kids.”

You know something is wrong when he’s being guided by Child Beating advocates Focus on the Family.

As first reported by the Miami Herald, the training materials were prepared for the state by groups including the Bill of Rights Institute, founded by Charles Koch and Hillsdale College, a small Christian school in Michigan that is influential in developing conservative education policies.

Segal, a teacher with 18 years in the classroom, says DeSantis is pushing a false narrative that schools are promoting a “woke” progressive agenda.

“I hate to say this,” she says, “but I feel that maybe, possibly he’s pandering to a base for re-election and that’s very hurtful.”

DeSantis is running for re-election as governor in November but is also widely seen as a likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

All this comes as Florida is facing a critical teacher shortage with more than 9,500 vacant jobs statewide.

In Brevard County, school board member Jennifer Jenkins says teachers are demoralized. Many have retired or found jobs in other fields. In her district, she says there are 20 vacancies at a single school that only has 40 staff members.

“I don’t know how we’re going to continue to live in this hostile environment, how we’re going to encourage educators to enter the field and stick around,” Jenkin says. “It’s really, really scary.”

School board members have become a particular target. Jenkins has had protesters outside her home, vandalism, and threats of violence stemming for her support for a school face mask mandate.

Ending tenure at Universities is another way Republicans are seeking to stack public education facilities with whatever. From the Advocate here in Louisana: “Mark Ballard: Conservatives want to clip tenure protections for outspoken college professors.”

Louisiana began down what one legislator calls the “slippery slope” toward eliminating job-protecting tenure for college professors who mouth off in unapproved ways.

Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, Friday received designees for the Task Force on Tenure in Postsecondary Education, putting Louisiana on the path already tread by other Republican-majority states seeking to remove what some professors call protection for academic free thought and what some conservatives say is a license to indoctrinate youth with extremist thought.

“The caricature for tenure has been weaponized on the national level for political pursuits,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson testified May 11 as legislators considered creating the task force. “I encourage you that the conversation around this is around the merits and not about the politics.”

The Darby Free Library in Darby, Pennsylvania is the country’s oldest library. It was founded as the Darby Library Company in 1743 .

There’s a good list there with all states trying to pass some form of the same effort.  So far, none of these efforts have passed but, just like voter suppression efforts, Republicans are hot to quash public education and send tax payer money to places with religious indoctrination agendas.  One of DeSantis’ civics changes includes this doozy via Axios: “Florida training program: “Misconception” that founders wanted separation of church and state”.

Driving the news: That and other content in a state-sponsored training course has raised eyebrows among some who have participated and felt it was omitting unflattering information about the country’s founders, pushing inaccuracies and centering religious ideas, per the Post.

  • The Constitution explicitly bars the government from “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Scholars interpret the passage to require a separation of church and state, per the Post.
  • In another example, the training states that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were against slavery, while omitting the fact that each owned enslaved people.

It’s obvious that the Republican Party likes their base stupid. They also want us to be just as stupid and uninformed.  Fox News Channel and AM radio shows do just that. Whatever can we do to stop all of this?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

22 Comments on “Monday Reads: The Miseducation Agenda”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Don’t forget the next hearing is Thursday night! Have a good week!

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    What Republicans are doing to public education is frightening. They want more ignorant voters who will accept their insane conspiracy theories.

  4. Enheduanna says:

    Repressed conservatives always have the worst kids, acting out because their parents smother them. DeSantis is playing to a puritanical base but I bet he himself is closer the the Matt Gaetz variety of politician – a giant fraud.

    Love the library pictures, Dak. We had a tiny white one in my childhood community which was replaced with a big modern one eventually.

    • dakinikat says:

      Whenever we traveled backroads, I always loved looking at the buildings in the little town squares. The library and the Court Houses were my favorites!

  5. quixote says:

    Anyone who knows anything about academia knows that at this point the *only* attraction it has going for it is tenure. You spend dog’s years so underpaid and overworked that on an hourly basis you’re making about one third of minimum wage. (Yes, I pulled a calculator out on a bad day and figured out the numbers.)

    And if you say anything about anything during that time, your contract probably won’t be renewed. You’re not fired, of course. Nothing so crass as that. It never has anything to do with your views. Somebody else from the endless pool of people hoping for a shot at the goodish life is simply more suitable.

    And that shot, the carrot at the end of that stick, is tenure. Take that away and they’ll either have to start paying college profs the same salaries as cardiologists (hysterical laughter) or the only people they’ll get are fifth raters who failed as PR shills.

    • dakinikat says:

      Wow, do I know that. It’s really exhausting anymore because the paperwork is just incredible to get accreditation renewed.

      • quixote says:

        It’s just utterly awful. And people out in the “real world” have no idea. They think we’re all in some coddled ivory tower. With ZOMG!!11!! summer vacations all summer long!!!11!!!!!

        • NW Luna says:

          Once I figured out my hourly pay for teaching. That was the last quarter I taught. Then there’s precepting, for which they don’t pay you in my field. Haven’t done that for a while either.

  6. roofingbird says:

    I had a thought about what I guess I would call a loss of intersectionality of old people with the education of the .young. It wasn’t too long ago I was hearing from the recently retired that they wouldn’t vote for school taxes because they had no children in school.

    My family are all now long adults and you are the only one I know still close to education. I haven’t read a children’s book in years. I’m thinking that I ought to, cause I can bombast all I want, on principle. However, If I’m really going to stand up for this, I ought to be able to talk specifics.

    There are booklists. Yes, I have other stuff on my plate, bit this seems like a civic responsibilty.

    • dakinikat says:

      My grandchildren have been subscribed to Meme’s book of the month birthday club, and they get 3 books I month in the mail! My dad used to volunteer in a 3rd-grade class in a suburb of Seattle for several years. He read to the kids. They loved him. He had to quit when he kept getting flus and things but he loved it too.

      • roofingbird says:

        Example: Someone asked me for advice on books for her pubescent transgender child and I could give lists by others but hadn’t read any on the lists.

        • quixote says:

          There’s mumsnet in the UK. The link is just one example, suggestions for a 10 year-old. Search for “reading list” There’ll be one closer to what you’re looking for.

          • quixote says:

            (“DD” in the title stands for Dear Daughter. DS = dear son. DH = dear husband. And so on. they use that sitewide.)

          • roofingbird says:

            Thanks, I’m thinking I need to read some of them so I have a personal reference point… reading levels, quality of pictures how well the information is transmitted, etc..real arguing points.

        • NW Luna says:

          A book about how a kid’s body is just fine the way it is, and to ignore gender stereotypes would be great.

          • roofingbird says:

            The last book I recommended was “Our Bodies, Ourselves”, and found a copy for my grand daughter. So, you can see I could use some updating.

  7. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says: