Too often teachers in South Carolina are treated as “thought criminals” whenever they dare to hold opinions which differ from those of their dear bureaucratic leaders – or the majority of their colleagues.
Palmetto State educators (at least those in the “public” system) are routinely scared into submission for writing letters to the editor on controversial subjects – or for being “too feminine” in pictures (where are my feminist activists at!), too vocal in public forums, or too educated or opinionated on their social media pages.
I know my social media page has been stalked, picked apart and searched with a fine tooth comb in an attempt to discredit differing opinions I hold. The result? I quit teaching.
I find it quite ironic that in a state with a monumental teacher retention program (South Carolina will be short an estimated 700 teachers in 2021 – up 26 percent from the previous year) that we continue to hear stories of teachers being punished, coerced or intimidated into keeping quiet.
This is happening because our bureaucratic leaders do not want the public to know the truth about the plight of their students – and the outright folly of the boards responsible for running South Carolina’s failing schools. Our state’s bureaucratic class is notorious for keeping teachers subdued and muzzled – unlike other government employees who are free to speak their minds.
I recently asked one of my former teaching colleagues why she didn’t speak out about how students were being parlayed back and forth during the pandemic.
“I will lose my job,” she told me in no uncertain terms.
Another teacher was told dismissively to “run for the school board” when she made suggestions aimed at helping her students. That’s laughable – as it presumes any school board in South Carolina knows what is best for its students.
When it comes to education-related issues – especially during a pandemic – shouldn’t taxpayers insist on hearing the unfiltered truth from all teachers (especially those who don’t toe the “company line”)? Don’t we want the honest input of those who work with our children on a daily basis? And don’t we want the government to get the hell out of the business of censoring teachers – telling them what they can do, say and think?
If you answered “no” to any of those questions, then you are part of the public education problem in this state just as much as the educational bureaucracy that fails South Carolina’s students. If you answered “yes,” then the time to start speaking up is now.
Our children deserve better – but they are never going to get it if we are more concerned about our jobs than we are about their futures.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Faith Falise is an unapologetically feminine former public school teacher who loves pushing envelopes and challenging convention and conformity.
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