Why Don Trump Jr.’s “Loser” Comment Struck Fear in the Hearts of Teachers Around the World from Diane Ravitch

Recently at a political rally in Texas, Donald Trump Jr. sneered at teachers and called them “losers” who were indoctrinating their students into socialism.

Three teachers published a response on Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog on the Washington Post website. They wrote that his words has a chilling effect on educators around the world.

Valerie Strauss wrote:

In this post, three teachers explain why Trump Jr.’s comment was more than simply mean.

Jelmer Evers of the Netherlands, Michael Soskil of the United States and Armand Doucet of Canada were featured authors in the 2018 book “Teaching in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Standing at the Preci...

I wish it was not behind a paywall, along with the rest of the Washington Post, which is a great newspaper. I love its slogan: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” We are living through one of the very dark moments of our nation’s history.

They wrote:

For teachers around the globe, this was a chilling moment.

In a stadium filled with people chanting “USA, USA,” the son of the president of the United States called for hostility toward teachers because of their so-called political leanings. This is a message you would expect in an authoritarian regime, not at a rally for the U.S. president.

As teachers, we come from varied backgrounds and political leanings, but there is an undeniable core to who we are and what we stand for. Teachers nurture, care and protect students. Teachers champion the pursuit of knowledge.

By working daily with young people, teachers are the stewards of the future. Whether Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative, right, left, center, blue or red — seeing and reinforcing the value of a teacher should be a national pillar that rises high above partisan politics and cheap applause.

Throughout history, schools and teachers have always been among the first to be targeted by authoritarian regimes and extremists. Independent thinking, creativity, compassion and curiosity are threats to dogmatic beliefs and rule.

Many of our colleagues in countries ravaged by war or in shackled societies teach in difficult circumstances. They are often ruthlessly persecuted and even killed for providing a well-balanced education to children, which should be a basic human right.

Echoes of these authoritarian practices are increasingly being heard in democratic countries as well. In Germany, the radical right party Alternative for Germany has launched a website where students and parents can report “left-wing teachers.”

In the Netherlands, right-wing parliamentarians have called on students to out their socialist teachers because they were indoctrinating their students in “climate change propaganda.”

In Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has accused student unions of “crazy Marxist nonsense” and has raised alarms by throwing out one of the most progressive sex education curriculums, which dealt with topics from consent, to gender identity to “sexting” in the age of social media.

In Hungary, textbooks are censored to follow the government’s nationalistic agenda. After years of denouncing teachers and schools, President Jair Bolsonaro’s first education policy in Brazil is to go after the “Marxist” curriculums, which bars teachers talking about feminism and LGBTQ issues.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has fired thousands of teachers. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte is attacking teacher unions.

Research by the United Nations has shown that the globe is spinning toward a dramatic teacher shortage, with analysts predicting a shortage of 69 million teachers by 2030. This is the crisis we should be talking about.

We’ve seen overcrowded classrooms, long working hours, lack of professional development, burn out, low salaries, terrible retention rates and teachers across the United States striking to demand better teaching and learning conditions.

How does Donald Trump Jr.’s description of teachers as “losers” and the encouragement of hostility toward us solve these problems? How does it ignite passion in a new generation to pursue the world’s most important profession?

If we can be accused of anything, it is that we are on the front line of democracy. Education reformer John Dewey famously said, “Democracy has to be born again each generation and education is its midwife.”

As members of a global profession, we reject the narrowing of the mind and we stand by our colleagues defending academic freedom. We call upon parents, teachers and politicians to stand with us. Our academic freedom is what allows our democracies to remain strong.

My words, not theirs:

Without teachers, there is no education. Without teachers, there are no doctors, no scientists, no creators, no inventors, no advancement of humanity.

What has Donald Trump Jr. or his father or his brother or his sister done to advance humanity? What kind of person separates families and puts children into cages?

Who indoctrinated Donald Trump Jr. into his ignorance?

He is a loser.

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