Freedom of Speech New York City Resistance Students Teachers and Teaching

Arthur Goldstein: Chancellor Farina, Put a Letter in My File, Please

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Arthur Goldstein teaches English language learners in a high school in Queens. He is active in his union and more often than not, a thorn in its side. He writes a blog where he speaks his mind, protected by tenure.

He addresses the question that most educators will have to face in the days ahead. What do you tell the students? What do you say to Hispanic students? to Black students? to gay students? Do you still teach an anti-bias curriculum? an anti-bullying program? If you do, are you criticizing the President-elect?

Goldstein writes:

In this post, he calls on the Chancellor of the New York City public schools to put a letter in his file. He also offers a graphic/meme that he hopes will appear in every classroom in the city (or state or nation).

Chancellor Fariña declared there would be no overt political talk in class. To a degree, I understand that. It’s not my place to tell kids who I voted for. It’s not my place to tell them who to vote for either. I would never do such a thing. But I knew they would ask me anyway.

Nonetheless, on Monday, I wore a tie a little bit like the one on the right. You wouldn’t notice what was on it unless you looked closely. When the kids asked me who I was voting for, I showed them the tie. I told them that a donkey represented Democrats, and an elephant represented Republicans. They didn’t know that. They looked at my tie and said, “Oh, you’re voting for Hillary.” I was glad they asked, because I needed them to know I would not vote for someone who hated them and everything they stood for, to wit, the American dream.

I also needed them to know that I stood against all the bigoted and xenophobic statements our President-elect made. I’m sorry, Chancellor Fariña, but I’m a teacher, and unlike Donald Trump, I stand for basic decency. My classroom rule, really my only one, is, “We will treat one another with respect.”

Donald Trump failed to treat a wide swath of people with respect. He’s a hateful, vicious bully. There are all sorts of anti-bullying campaigns that go in in city schools, and I fail to see why Donald Trump should get a pass simply for having lied his way to the Presidency. So I specifically repudiated a whole group of his insidious statements. I also added LGBT to my group, and told my kids that we would not tolerate slurs to gay people in my classroom. Even my kids seem to expect a pass on that. They won’t get one.

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