Teaching in Dangerous Times

Baltimore teachers at #TeachTruth day of action.

Right wing politicians and media outlets are attacking educators’ most basic responsibility — to teach young people accurately and truthfully. Officials in at least 42 states have sought — and in many cases succeeded — to enact restrictions on what teachers can say about history and current events.

Just this week, former secretary of state and CIA director Mike Pompeo said, “If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids.”

Educators and allies have decried these laws and slander. More than 8,000 teachers have pledged to teach the truth about our past and present with lessons like the ones from the #TeachTruth syllabus.

But they face steep consequences for doing so. Multiple right wing websites have listed the names of those who signed the Zinn Education Project’s “pledge to teach the truth,” along with the communities in which they work. Their goals are clear: to incite harassment and spread fear.

These hit pieces (like the one below) are having an impact.

We have heard dozens of stories from teachers across the country. From personal attacks on social media to calls for their investigation and removal at school board meetings, from smears in local media to in-person harassment at back-to-school nights, teachers are under attack.

As one teacher wrote, “This is modern-day McCarthyism.”

And yet countless teachers and students are showing up, for each other, and for education. They promote inquiry into history, literature, storytelling, science, mathematics, dance, music, and more in classroom communities designed to facilitate collaboration and learning.

The right is trying to ban deep learning and inquiry with authoritarian legislation and a campaign of harassment.

We must not let them.

If you are a teacher, let us know if you receive any repercussions for signing the pledge. And contact your local teachers’ union. Both the AFT and NEA have committed to defend teachers who pledge to #TeachTruth.

If you are not a teacher, please speak out in defense of those who are and donate to the Zinn Education Project.

The right wing attacks are well-funded and getting an out-sized amount of media attention. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor, express your support on social media, and/or go to your local school board meeting.

Don’t let today’s McCarthyism go unchecked.

Defend Teachers from McCarthyism

Help the Zinn Education Project defend teachers’ right to teach people’s history. Donate today.

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