To the Editor:
I was disappointed to read the following in the article, “Teacher Morale Is at a Low Point. Here’s Where Some Are Finding Hope” (May 4, 2022):
“At the same time, a slew of new state laws have placed restrictions on how teachers can discuss race, gender, and other so-called ‘divisive’ issues in the classroom. Educators say that these bans have limited their ability to teach an accurate account of history and a diversity of literature, and that the legislation has put a target on teachers’ backs in the culture wars.”
Beyond the controversies, I see a much bigger problem when we don’t acknowledge that there are strong, defensible differences in perspectives about such topics. While it would be helpful to read examples of where a teacher could not teach a topic accurately or was unable to teach a diversity of literature, I see the words, ‘so-called ‘divisive’” as dismissive and condescending.
The only teachers that I am aware of with compelling concerns within this challenge are the ones who are highly motivated to advance their own worldviews about the aforementioned topics. It would have been more helpful for me to see specific examples of “little-to-no diversity” and “inaccuracy” in specific curricula that comply with the new legislation compared with specific examples of “unlimited diversity” that don’t.
Lane H. Walker
A version of this article appeared in the June 08, 2022 edition of Education Week as Can Educators Agree to Disagree Respectfully?