Friday, August 5, 2016

In divisive election, teachers should take notes from students

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 8:30 AM

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Editor's note: This letter was penned by Daniel Schoch. Submit your Letter to the Editors at 

Fourteen months.

Two of the most contentious candidates in American history.

A divisive quagmire for the ages.

While division can yield discussion, understanding, acceptance, and empathy, it can also fester in narrowness, ignorance, rejection, and vitriol. As a public high school teacher, I aim for the former, despite an electoral primitivism fostering disengagement and indifference.

But I am encouraged.
I hear the student conversations. My seniors express disgust with hypocrisy from political parties and the broken system they inhabit. But, unlike many adults, the constant stream of negativity hasn’t driven them to apathy. Instead, these young adults recognize the crucial stakes, eager to engage.

This election marks an opportunity for teachers (and young voters) to party like it’s 2012 and spearhead a grassroots thrashing against the backwards education and social policies of a Pence governorship. It’s an opportunity to reelect a State Superintendent who understands the reality of poverty and the consequences of the “school choice” misnomer. It’s an opportunity to be heard locally and to address intimate conflicts facing Hoosier schools.

Unfortunately, education policy isn’t sexy, and political prudence directs candidates to downplay their respective goals. “Free tuition” and “Trump University” are seemingly the four most common words in education discourse. Not reassuring.
But do not abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Teachers, soldiers of intellect and warriors for the weary, should be paragons of citizen engagement. And perhaps that requires taking notes from our students.

Gracing my desk are pictures of my two young children. I wonder daily how this election will frame the American and Hoosier identities within which they will learn and thrive.

This November, I’m bringing cheat sheets to the polls: photos of my own kids in one hand, class rosters in the other. I don’t want to forget the stakes, and hopefully Hoosiers don’t, either.

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