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Democracy

The idea they're 'indoctrinating' is false': GOP candidate stands up for teachers at debate

"They’re working in low-paying jobs, and they’re fighting for those kids and their families.”

doug burgum, gop debate, culture wars

Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota

Over the past few years, there's been a concern among some conservatives that specific topics, such as LGBTQ awareness and critical race theory, are too prevalent in classrooms. These concerns have inspired various legislative actions, such as book bans and restrictions on discussing LGBTQ topics in schools.

Unfortunately, this debate has also resulted in a hostile work environment for some teachers and administrators, and clashes at school board meetings have been commonplace. In extreme situations, educators have been accused of grooming children into becoming LGBTQ.

Critics of the conservative scorched-earth approach to education believe that it’s nothing more than a manufactured moral panic used by politicians to garner support on issues that hit close to home for parents. A disturbing aspect of the education backlash is that it often targets teachers who already have a tough job.



North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum stood up to GOP rank-and-file at the presidential debate on Wednesday, August 23, by claiming that the idea that teachers are indoctrinating children across the nation is “false.” For many, it was a welcome course correction from the Republican narrative.

A moderator asked Burgum if too much is being made about the issue of transgender children playing sports in schools, and he used the question to discuss the topic of indoctrination.

“But I do think when we start talking about education—and we think that we’re going to have a federal government one size fits all—we’re just completely losing track of the fact that education differs by state. Some school districts are doing a fantastic job, some less so,” Burgum said.

“But the idea that every school district and every teacher is somehow indoctrinating people is just false,” he continued. “Teachers in this country, the vast majority of them care about those kids. They’re working in low-paying jobs, and they’re fighting for those kids and their families.”

Burgum also reframed the argument from social issues to what’s most important, children being taught the fundamentals in schools.

“There’s a lot of crazy woke things happening in schools, but we’ve got to get these kids reading. If a child can’t read by third grade, they’re four times less likely to graduate high school. So we need to make sure we bring in reading remediation all over this country,” Burgum said.

“We need transparency in the classroom because parents should never have to wonder what’s being said or taught to their children in the classroom,” she continued. “Parents need to be deciding which schools their kids go to because they know best, and let’s put vocational classes back into the high schools. Let’s teach our kids to build things again.”

It’s crucial for parents to have a voice in what’s happening in the classroom. But when politicians turn the focus in education from teaching kids the fundamentals to a hyper-focus on the culture war, that’s when the system is bound to fail. Burgum did a commendable job in the debate, reframing the discussion from the culture wars to what matters most: children learning about the three Rs and supporting their teachers.

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12 real stories that show why ruthless immigration laws are the wrong move.

Immigration policies that rip families apart are a travesty.


If there's ever been a particularly bad time to be an undocumented immigrant, it's right now.

President Donald Trump, who launched himself into the 2016 presidential race with his support for a multibillion-dollar border wall, has been cracking down on immigration as promised. In addition to tightening border security, he's pledged to remove 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants "immediately." And he appears to be keeping his word.

Deportation is nothing new, but Trump's plans are unprecedented. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

It's a scary climate we're facing, but unfortunately, it's not just Trump and it's not just America. All over the world, people are more concerned with their countries' borders than seemingly ever before.Nations all over Europe, for example, are tightening up immigration rules and/or ramping up deportations themselves.

Amidst all the noise and rhetoric — every "radical Islamic terrorist" attack that gets waved about by politicians with something that eerily resembles pride, every horrific crime committed by white Americans that's met with deafening silence, every press conference faux pas — there are real people and real families being ripped apart in the name of patriotism.

Their stories are terrifying and heart-wrenching, but they're massively important.

1. A DREAMer gave a powerful speech about deportation. Moments later, she was arrested.

Daniela Vargas, who has lived in the U.S. since she was 7 years old, spoke at a news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, about the importance of the DREAM Act, which aims to help immigrant children who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and graduated high school receive permanent legal status.

After the event, Vargas and a friend were pulled over and arrested by immigration agents.

2. A Sri Lankan student studying in North Wales was saved from deportation only by a last ditch effort hours before her flight.

Shiromini Satkunarajah, an electrical engineering student at Bangor University, was nearly sent back to Sri Lanka earlier this year. Despite having lived in the U.K. since she was 12 and being only three months shy of graduation, Satkunarajah was only allowed to stay after receiving an outpouring of community support.

3. A woman living in Great Britain was sent back to Singapore without being allowed to say goodbye to her husband and two children.

Irene Clennell had lived in the U.K. since 1988 but was abruptly sent back to Singapore after having her indefinite leave to remain revoked. Clennell is married and has two children with her husband but was not afforded the chance to see them one last time.

4. A mom living in Phoenix was sent back to Mexico. Her children would later face Trump as he addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos' children were reportedly in attendance as Trump addressed Congress. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/AFP/Getty Images.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was sent back to Mexico in January this year for having a criminal record. Her crime? Working under the table to provide for her young children.

5. A beloved restaurant manager in a deep-red town in Illinois was arrested, and now the community is reeling.

Most of the people in West Frankfort, Illinois, voted for Trump. They never thought anything would happen to Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, the friendly restaurant manager who seemed have done at least one kind deed for everyone in the community. Now, he's been detained by ICE and is currently waiting to find out if he'll be sent back to Mexico.

6. A Kuwaiti man and father of two living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the other hand, was miraculously spared from deportation because it would cause his family too much hardship.

Yousef Ajin has lived in the United States for 18 years with his wife, with whom he has four children. He reportedly met with immigration officers frequently, but on Jan. 30, 2017, he was suddenly detained.

In February, a judge granted a deportation waiver in order to spare Ajin's family from hardship. Many other immigrants aren't so lucky.

7. One man was caught trying to cross the border and returned to Tijuana. He appears to have jumped to his death shortly after.

The man, Guadalupe Olivas Valencia, had reportedly worked in the U.S. before to provide for his family back home before being deported multiple times. Caught trying to enter the country once again, he seemingly decided jumping from a bridge was his only option.

8. A single mother in California was sent back to Mexico, leaving her two young children in peril.

Photo by Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images.

On Feb. 7, María Robles-Rodríguez was nabbed by U.S. Border Patrol and sent back to Mexico, leaving her twin 18-year-old daughters to fend for themselves.

9. Gay men being deported from Britain to Afghanistan are being told to pretend they're straight.

The British government's advice to gay men being sent home to Afghanistan, where they can be freely persecuted for their sexual orientation? Just don't act gay and everything will be fine!

Seriously.

10. Jose Escobar was detained after a routine meeting with immigration officers. He's a husband and father of three.

Escobar, who has lived in the United States for 16 years, had a deportation scare a few years back but was told he'd be safe if he checked in with immigration agents every year. Only this year, an agent reportedly told his wife, "We're just doing what President Trump wants us to do with the new rules."

Escobar will likely soon be deported.

11. A Mexican man living in Idaho was deported. His wife and the mother of his children could be next.

Tomas Copado ran his own auto body shop in Idaho Falls until he was sent back to Mexico earlier this year. His wife, for the sake of their children, recently had her own deportation deferred.

For now.

12. Some undocumented immigrants may be deported to Mexico even if they're not from there.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

According to several reports, the Department of Homeland Security plans to send anyone who crosses illegally over the southern border of the U.S. back to Mexico, even though they may be citizens of another country.

Needless to say, this is horrendous and possibly in violation of international law.

Statue of LibertyPhoto by Guzmán Barquín on Unsplash

Every modern nation needs smart, empathetic paths to citizenship. Any immigration policy that tramples on human rights and rips families apart is a travesty.

It's time to bust the narrative that foreigners primarily come to our country — or any country — to do harm. They come mostly to find opportunity, to escape persecution, or to be with family.

If we can't come to see them as human beings rather than inanimate outsiders, finding the money to pay for a giant wall will be the very least of our problems.


This article originally appeared on 03.02.17

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