Wednesday, May 05, 2021

When Idiots Are in Charge of Education


Rep. Jeffrey McNeeley,
Iredell County

Public school teacher Justin Parmenter is up this morning on his blog, "Notes From the Chalkboard," with a post about being personally singled out and attacked in the General Assembly as a dangerous influence on children. I'm reposting much of what he wrote here because he's informing us about a baleful bill moving in the General Assembly which will make teachers presumptive threats to youth, who must prove themselves otherwise to a Republican majority in the General Assembly who are skeered of their own Trumpish demons. 

"A state legislator is howling indoctrination because my 7th graders are learning the ocean is polluted"

A member of the North Carolina House of Representatives held up my teaching as an example of harmful indoctrination of children this week as state legislators met to discuss a new bill which would require teachers to post their lesson plans online for public review.

The K-12 Education Committee approved HB 755, also known as “An Act to Ensure Academic Transparency,” and it’s on the House calendar for today.

The proposed legislation mandates that all lesson plans, including information about any supporting instructional materials as well as procedures for how an in-person review of lesson materials may be requested, be “prominently displayed” on school websites.

Iredell County Republican Representative Jeffrey McNeely gave the bill two enthusiastic thumbs up, pointing to my teaching as an example of the hidden indoctrination that will be exposed if the bill is passed into law:

...I saw in the Charlotte Observer the other week a English teacher was complaining because he had to do remote learning and in-person learning at the same time and it caused him to shorten his English class on environmental pollution.

What you think about that?

So I think this putting out to me this will help the parents going to the next grade be able to look and see what that teacher taught the year before, and hopefully we’re just gonna teach the kids, we’re not gonna try to indoctrinate ’em or teach ’em in a certain way to make ’em believe something other than the facts, the knowledge, the ability to write the ability to read.

McNeely is referring to an editorial I published in the Charlotte Observer last week about my experiences with hybrid teaching during the COVID 19 pandemic. In the article I discussed being in the middle of a lesson with students both in person and on Zoom when the fire alarm rang, forcing me to prematurely end class for my remote students in the middle of an important conversation.

The Iredell County legislator ignored the overall point I was making about the challenges the pandemic has wrought for teachers and students, directing his tunnel vision at my opening words: “Not long ago I was leading a discussion about environmental pollution with my 7th grade English class…”

For McNeely, this line, which I “prominently displayed” in the state’s three largest newspapers, exposes a sinister plot to deviate from state standards in support of the leftist agenda. Why else would an English teacher be discussing environmental pollution with students, if not “to make ’em believe something other than the facts, the knowledge, the ability to write the ability to read”?

I teach 7th grade English Language Arts in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. We use EL Education’s Language Arts curriculum, which is organized into modules that last several weeks. (The curriculum is open source, so materials are prominently displayed here.)

While working toward mastering state ELA standards, this year my students have studied the Lost Children of Sudan and the Harlem Renaissance, and right now we’re learning about plastic pollution. Through our current module, Mecklenburg County’s 7th grade students have gained an understanding of how plastic has become an integral part of our lives over the years but also how much of it makes its way into the world’s oceans as microplastics, harming wildlife and posing a threat to humans as well.

Not having a background in education, Representative McNeely may not be aware that teaching students to read and write involves selecting topics for them to read and write about.

This process allows teachers to create a broad and engaging educational experience for students and enables us to integrate instruction across subject areas so that our students see connections in class content between my English class, for example, and their social studies, science, and math classes. It’s not a leftist plot, it’s how school is supposed to work.

This drum beating over indoctrination of students is becoming completely absurd.

The vast majority of the public trusts teachers to do their jobs and understands that we already have way too much on our plates without adding the enormous burden of posting everything we do in class online for the pleasure of Representative McNeely and the fringe handful of his constituents who are convinced they’re fighting an end of days culture war.

McNeely and his misguided colleagues need to put down their pitchforks and focus on doing what they were elected to do: creating policies which will actually improve the lives of North Carolinians.


Representative Jeffrey McNeeley was appointed to his seat in July 2019 to replace a retiring Republican woman and then won reelection to the seat last fall. He's a former Iredell County Commissioner, and he owns a company that makes bulk feed for livestock.


Mike said...

Apropos to this subject is this Michelle Goldberg opinion piece:

Anonymous said...

I think I might find Rep. McNeely's comments more compelling if they were expressed in clear, concise, grammatical, and correctly punctuated sentences. His opinions on livestock feed, however, would be very welcome; I have always believed folks should offer opinions only on subjects in which they are well-versed.