• Rick Joseph

Why I Love a Good Political Discussion on Facebook

It seems I get more likes when I post a picture of my dog on Facebook than when I post an article about an issue that is of serious import. I do have a friend on Facebook, however, who consistently comments when I post a comment or an article about a contentious issue. He usually takes the opposing view. I deeply value this, because I wholeheartedly value conversation that illuminates and challenges my thinking and gets me out of the typical echo chamber of social media.

Below is a comment from Mike regarding the Michigan Teacher of the Year award and my reply:

Mike's comment:

Now this isn't written in a mean tone. Merely thoughtful -- It is hard to convey in text. Why would the question be raised? If you ask that, you may be like the reporter exclaiming "Nixon Won? I don't even know anyone who voted for him" Teacher's union, school boards, and education associations like our journalists tend to be heavily, heavily influenced by the left and to support left-leaning causes. (not all, but over 90%) This is both statistically supported through survey data and through records of political contributions and endorsements.This make-up doesn't reflect our society. Our perspectives about education may be slanted by what draws attention and gets media attention. The media may only circle the wagons when leftist causes are questioned. But the whole school walkout in support of gun control after Florida makes me suspect that education is incrementally becoming indoctrination. Can you imagine a school walkout supported by the administration nationally which pushed for gun rights? Pro-life? Our Universities are now places where attacks on free speech are supported by the staff. Censorship is justified. Where conservative ideas are violently attacked with the new justification that conservative speech "is violence" Conservative speakers are run off campus. The fact that I drew responses in defense also leads me to believe that it is at least a sensitive topic. Posters either want the award to remain pure as they imply or they don't want it examined too closely -somewhere in between perhaps? To ask whether a largely leftist group would only tend to award one of their own is a valid question given that the country does not reflect their make up. Perhaps it is a question that needs asking? Perhaps a different perspective may validate the award in light of this question or make it better reflect the society it serves?

My reply:

Mike - The Michigan Teacher of the Year award is given by the Michigan Department of Education. As such it is a non-political, non-partisan recognition. As Nancy said Michigan Teacher of the Year - MTOY's are encouraged to reach out to legislators of all political backgrounds in order to represent the realities of classroom teaching from a practitioner's perspective. This is inevitable in Michigan, where Republicans are in control of the legislator and governorship.

I don't know if data exists that indicates the political leanings of individual educators. The sociology of how and why people incline themselves politically on certain issues is fascinating to me. If I had to guess how every educator voted in the 2016 presidential election or the 2014 gubernatorial election, I would guess that the simple majority voted for the democratic candidates. Again, I don't know if such data exists.

When I think about why I vote the way I do, think, speak, write, see the world and post the way I do, I know that the reasons are varied and complex, owing to my family background, life experiences, education, personality and influences.

This article might be too specific for this discussion, but it speaks to the importance of teachers advocating and speaking up, especially to legislators:

You reference teacher unions, which like most unions have traditionally been institutions supported by people who identify more as democrats or, in general supported by the democratic party. The democratic party has historically been the party of the working class. Teachers have long struggled to be considered members of a "profession" despite possessing college degrees. Part of this has to do with the fact that 77% of Pre K-12 educators are white and female.

Walkouts - There is a visceral fear among young people today that they may be killed by an active shooter at school. This emerges every time another shooting occurs. This is what has driven this activism and prompted the walk-outs. This is not a partisan issue - rather it's an issue of survival. Now, the majority of educators believe one of the things we as a society need to do is ban assault weapons, bump stocks and high capacity magazines and have background checks. These are gun control reforms which are supported by the NRA members, typically

If I had a student who wanted to walkout for some other reason, I would let them. There just isn't enough of a desire among students to stand up and speak out on other issues as there is for gun violence in schools. I think about whether my school will be next every morning when I walk through the front doors of my school.

You mention universities. It seems, despite what may be the perception, that colleges and universities protect free speech more than ever according to this article:

I think what got your attention from my initial post about the MTOY award is that it was written up in the MEA newspaper. The MEA has nothing to do with the MTOY award. In Michigan, teachers who are memebrs of unions either belong to the MEA of the AFT. Laura is most likely a member of the MEA, because they wrote an article about her. This does not automatically imply that Laura or any MTOY is liberal/progressive/a democrat or conservative/a republican. Just like when I was named three years ago, I was written up in the Detroit Free Press (left-leaning editorial line) and the Detroit News (right-leaning editorial line).