Apr 242011

I kind of reached a breaking point last week. No, wait. I did reach a breaking point last week. I will no longer sit by when I hear people say obviously wrong things.  You know, the kind of wrong things about teaching and what affects teaching you hear every day if you watched Faux News. But this is also a cautionary tale. What to expect when you start actually confronting the ideologues.

Really, I have had enough. I am not the only one. Chris Lehmann has a great piece on the fact that both sides of the issues are not that far off, but the rhetoric is out of control. Otherwise sensible people are saying some incredibly stupid things simply because they have bought into the rhetoric. Things like, “No more taxes”. That is stupid. Americans are taxed at the lowest rates in over 60 years.

That is a fact. Not an opinion. The evidence can be found in 30 seconds with a Google search. Heck it is even published nationally in local newspapers. PolitaFact, a very unbiased source, found the same thing.  And PolitaFact’s article is very nice because it includes sources that can be checked.

So, we are paying the lowest tax rates in the modern history of our country and people are screaming for them to go lower? Why would that be? What is the effect of lowering the tax rates more? After all, the evidence, again, non-partisan evidence, shows that one of the major causes of the deficit we are running right now IS because of tax cuts!

image Source

Yup, you read it right. That GIANT brown area in the middle of the graph shows that a MAJOR cause of the deficits that are killing schools right now (no taxes, ugh, must destroy schools to balance budget) is the Bush Era tax cuts.

So why are they screaming for lower taxes? What would the purpose be? After all, Dick Cheney is on record saying, “Deficits don’t matter.” The Republicans used to love deficits. So of course they want to cut taxes more. It creates more deficits, and they can use those deficits as reason to attack schools and education more!  That is a personal opinion that I am not going to support now. Of course, as they realize the Industrial Revolution is over, and what they really need is a smarter population, this will backfire on the ideologues.

So, on to the problem. I have in my news feed a site called InvestorJunkie. I watch it because I teach a unit on financial mathematics, and I really like to read a broad range of ideas to make sure I am up with the current knowledge on financial issues. The learners ask TONS of questions on a huge range of topics, and InvestorJunkie generally does a great job at covering a lot of good investor ideas.

But the other day, he posts a typical screed of the ideologues rant, “ugh, taxes bad, no raise taxes.” Of course, he gives some good ideological arguments with the standard graphs, and says the typical statement, we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem (despite all the evidence to the contrary, we have a spending AND REVENUE problem).

I challenge him on it. I repeatedly ask him to explain how going back to the tax rates of the Reagan years would be bad. I give him the evidence. I ask him to explain again. And again. I point out some assumptions he makes about peoples value. He confirms those assumptions. He asks if I have a plan, or just attack him. I give him a plan. He ignores it.

And then he bans me, because I didn’t fall into his neat idea of a teacher who is willing to fold under pressure. Okay, not his words. He calls me a troll and says he rebutted my points and I failed to answer his. [Can I tell you how funny that is? I teach competitive debate. My debaters are among the top tier in the league. I laughed for days!]

So the moral of the story, my fellow teachers, is when you stand up for yourself and knowledge, be ready to be called names. Be ready for the ideologues to attack and deflect and do everything but answer your points. Be ready with the facts and the evidence from non-partisan and business sources so they can not challenge the credibility of your evidence.

They will still not read anything you have written, but we need to stand up for knowledge instead of hysteria, truth instead of opinion, and the fact the world is changing on the ideologues, and they need to join the 21st century.

And we need to start reframing the education debate instead of allowing the ideologues who have created the problem to frame it for us.

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