I was taken aback by the letter to the editor penned by JoAnn H. in a recent issue of the Bee-Picayune. She began with allegations of the local school board’s attempt to raise school taxes (corrected in the Editor’s note) then quickly escalated to attacking public education, teachers and students. I surmised Ms. H. as a person ignorant of current affairs or perhaps a marginalized member of society, speaking from a place of woundedness. But a Google search revealed that, among other things, Ms. H. is a member of the prestigious Bee County Historical Commission. As such, I would have expected her to utilize her status as a means of encouraging and supporting our local educators in creating a healthy legacy for Bee County. Instead, she spewed forth venomous accusations that were neither supportive nor true.
Ms. H. erroneously reported that “our children are being homeschooled with our teachers doing half of their job.” Homeschooling actually requires parents to purchase their own curriculum and instruct their children accordingly, or hire a tutor, using their own money. But the virtual instruction offered by our public schools requires teachers to provide and teach its curriculum. Virtual instruction has increased teacher workload, Ms. H., not cut it in half. Virtual instruction has also forced parents to engage in their children’s education like never before, and many families are the better for it. Previously-complacent parents are now having to pay attention to not only what their children are learning but how they learn; to notice and identify their strengths and weaknesses, gifts and talents, that cannot always be measured with A’s and B’s. The educational system has been attempting to do this for years with minimal success; that is, to get more parents to show up as team members of their child’s education.
Ms. H.’s measuring tool for determining that “many of our children are completely dumb” is demeaning and self-righteous. I would suggest to Ms. H. that many mature, self-proclaimed Christians cannot recite, in full, Psalm 23, or name the 12 virtues listed as fruit of the Spirit. Yet the Bee-Picayune publishes weekly the compassionate deeds of faith communities in and around Bee County, evidence that mature Christians are actively living out their faith among us. I submit that there are also learned students, young and old, living among us, even if they cannot regale Ms. H. with historical lore when she “talks with them.”
I would also suggest that if Mrs. H. feels the need to challenge or condemn our public schools, her impassioned knowledge of all things historical will serve her well in composing lengthy letters to Gov. Abbott, the State Board of Education, and Texas State Legislators who issue mandates, threaten and restrict our public school systems and its educators. But as the prominent member of the Beeville community, her only reference to teachers and students—especially in a public format like the Bee-Picayune—should be, “How can I help?”