In one of the weekend threads, one of our many anonymi requested suggestions of something we could do for our country, and I do have one:
Got a local school district, elementary or high school? Yeah. Yahoo Yellow Pages, enter your town, search for “school district.”
Good. Call ’em up, the district office. Be very, very polite and let them transfer you 5 or 6 times. Ask them what district policy is on the teaching of science and evolution.
People like to look at the stories linked above like they’re freakish aberrations, but they’re not. They happen because people like us assume the sun rises in the east and the earth is round and the world is reasonable, and while we’re not looking, some wingnut kicks up a fuss we don’t even hear about and pretty soon there’s a sticker on your kid’s textbook that says, “Darwin SUXXXORS” and it’s like it came out of nowhere.
We can stop that shit before it starts.
If the district does indeed have a written policy, ask to see a copy of it. They may ask you to come down to the district office to file a Freedom of Information Act request, though they shouldn’t, but if they do, it’s a short form, takes two minutes, and they HAVE to respond within seven days. More FOIA information here.
If you have kids in the school, ask to see their student handbook. Look it over with an eye specifically for wingnut-inspired policies, especially with regards to science, “health,” “human development,” sex ed, whatever the kids are calling it these days. Do they have a gay-lesbian support group, an anti-harassment policy? If not, now might be a good time to start one.
If you find anything out of the ordinary, your local paper (and I mean hyper-local, I mean local weekly which probably has a designated reporter just on the school board) and tell them about it. Chances are, they haven’t noticed it or written about it. Call the local TV station. Kick up a big fancy fuss. Hell, pick your favorite local crusading columnist (c’mon, you’ve all got one, the one who thinks things only happen in the city because HE makes them happen) and e-mail it to him or her anonymously if you’re afraid of retribution. All else fails then e-mail me that stuff at the blog address above or post it here.
Most of these decisions are made by local school boards. Who’s on yours? Is there a nutter? Is there somebody there who thinks it’s fine if the superintendent panels his or her office in mahogany while the kids sit at broken desks? Is there anything that would prevent you from running to replace that corrupt, stupid or lazy board member and ensuring that progressive values of fairness and the common good are represented?
Write a letter to your superintendent if the district has a sensible policy on the teaching of evolution. Tell him or her thank you for dealing in the reality-based community and not giving in to the wingnuts.
I’m sure tons of you are already involved in your kids’ schools, probably some of you at this level. But just as we see encroachment on the national level by right-wingers, we need to each of us be vigilant about it at the hyper-local level. And this is as basic as it gets (well, maybe block captains, but here in Chicago we don’t screw with what works). Odds are, nothing’s going on out of the ordinary. But maybe something is. Checking is the first step.
School District Information:
Democracy for America’s latest on public education is here in case you need to be inspired.
I plan on doing the very same thing with my districts, though I live in a sensibly blue area. Never know what the north side loonies are cooking up while we here in the normal south chill and watch football.
Good idea? Tell me if it works. Success stories bolster us in times of trouble.