Yes, Things Are Really As Bad As You've Heard
A Leftist Schoolteacher Struggles To Say Aloud the Things He Regularly Witnesses That Are So Outlandish They Sound Made Up By Right-Wing Provocateurs
I spoke with the anon poster below, a public school teacher in a Blue city in a Blue state, and examined correspondence from his colleagues and supervisors that left no doubt that his personal account is authentic. He is indeed the sort of committed left-wing partisan who uses terms like “systems of oppression” unironically and who regards “anti-woke” polemicists as cynical hacks and grifters. He also happens to be witness to absurd school policies justified under the guise of “racial equity” that are doing harm to the very kinds of students on whose ostensible behalf they are being implemented. This is of course a familiar dynamic with all of the policies embraced as part of the ideological succession in schools: they enact a brazen form of neo-racism rooted in a fundamental contempt for the ability of black students to meet the same standards as other students and act as if the gutting of the most basic standards for all students will somehow help black students rather than harm all students — with the harm disproportionately being visited on the very students the policies claim to help. There is something poignant about the dilemma he describes, about being unable to communicate to his fellow leftist peers the awful magnitude of the moral abdication to which he is witness and party precisely because it is so extreme that all will dismiss it as right-wing propaganda. It is a dilemma widely shared across a range of liberal institutions in which conscientious actors see destructive practices being entrenched and immunized against critique by the same dynamics which they find powerless to resist because the specter of right-wing reaction makes any self-criticism impossible.
The summer program where I'm currently teaching enrolls about seventy students between the ages of six and twelve. Classes are technically open to any child in the district, but only a few parents actually sign their children up themselves; instead, the vast majority of kids are registered for the program by a teacher who was concerned with their academic performance the previous year. Parents can choose to accept or reject the enrollment, but the acceptance rate is something like 90% – it's free, after all, and plenty of these parents are already looking for a safe place to send their children while they work during the day.
This "enroll first, ask questions later" approach removes many of the obstacles that keep struggling students from engaging with other summer programs, many of which have complicated application processes and require children to meet certain academic standards. However, it also means many families aren’t particularly invested in the program itself and, as a consequence, both parent and student engagement is lower than it might otherwise be.
Early on, an administrator confessed that this sort of setup could lead to "attendance issues," which I took to mean some kids showing up late or even skipping class once in a while. Nine of the eleven students in my grade level were absent the first day. The next day, it was ten. By the end of the week, I had one student consistently attending and a few who had been officially withdrawn by their parents – but there were still eight children on my roster who were technically enrolled while having never once shown up.
At this point, I took a look at the waitlist to see if there were any students I could bring in to replace them; the games and activities I’d planned needed more kids anyway, and I knew the waitlist was where families who actually wanted their children to attend usually ended up (students who were just referred by teachers had priority placement). On my lunch break, I walked into the administrator’s office and asked them when I could expect the half-dozen or so children on my grade’s waitlist to be let in.
Immediately, I was informed of something truly absurd: The district is not allowed to remove any student from the program on the basis of non-attendance. A child remains enrolled in my classes until a parent explicitly states they’d like them removed, even if they have never once actually shown up.
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