From a conservative teacher in the Montgomery County, Maryland Public School (MCPS) System.
Conservatism, Education, and Montgomery County Public Schools is a combination that is not welcome. I have seen it firsthand. My hope is through a series of articles, I can share my experiences as a conservative teacher within the MCPS system. I look forward to shedding some light on what is happening within our public school system.
I love teaching. I began my teaching career in 2003, my soul eager to have a role in shaping the future. My first few years as a teacher for MCPS provided me with a sense of fulfillment, a sense that I was part of a group that had the same purpose in mind: to foster the “basics” that an elementary school student needs in life. Such basics include reading at the correct reading level, knowing the multiplication tables, and having good spelling and grammar skills. At times, lessons of respect and appropriate social skills were embedded. That is what the hallways of my school building demonstrated during my first years.
Then a shift happened.
Our staff meetings began to touch on the topic of race. “Courageous conversations,” they called it. An emphasis on discussing a child’s race first replaced looking at the child as a whole. The racially-sectioned children assigned to each classroom were closely analyzed, so that each child had someone that looked like him or her. As a conservative, who also happens to be a minority, this shift frustrated me. My conservative values leaned towards focusing on the needs of the individual. While such a task is time consuming, it is what is morally right to do for the dignity of the child. My conservative values did not want to accept a focus on a collective group.
My conservative values wanted to embrace a focus on the individual, acknowledging that race does not categorize one into a box.
These were the first signs that my conservative values set me apart. I became uncomfortable when our staff meetings started to place a heavy focus on race. I felt that my ethnic background was causing me, and students of my background, to be cornered into a specific category. I uncomfortably sat at these meetings, while coworkers from other races would discuss the implications that people of my race supposedly all had.
It felt like my brownness was being exploited. It felt like my family was being stereotyped. All for the sake of those attending to be enlightened to understand the plight of my people and consequently become better educators. I was enraged! What ever happened to the idea of judging someone by the content of their character?
It is unfortunate that race discussions are what first led me to see that I had a disconnect with the ideals that my employer was (and still is) imposing on me. The continued emphasis the county has on race relations is just one disconnect I have with Montgomery County.
There are other aspects that I find to be troubling as well, including other ways in which the children are indoctrinated and concerning practices that some schools utilize when hiring staff. I survive by staying focused on the four walls (now virtual) of my classroom. I survive by focusing on the good that I passionately believe is found in all people, even when they would ostracize me for being a conservative.
I’m a closeted conservative. What I value as right and true is, for the most part, seen as the complete opposite.
I am the modern version of what it means to be “closeted.” It is truly a shame that a field with such great implications to society is entangled so deeply in ideals that will ultimately be our demise; the demise of our great American experiment. While my children are within my (now virtual) four walls, it is my hope I can protect and focus on what is really needed to foster their development.