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Her School’s Got A Thousand Problems

Our school may be so poor we can barely put a roof over our heads, but we're trans-positive! (beeboys/Shutterstock)

Over the weekend, I ran into an old friend who used to live here, and who happened to be in town visiting. Hadn’t seen her in 20 years or more. I asked her if she was still teaching. Yes, she said; she’s now in a poor, rural public school district in another Southern state. She said that she spends a lot of her own money just buying books and supplies for her students.

“There’s no money?” I asked, stunned.

“There’s no money,” she said.

I asked her how prepared her school is to implement the Education Department civil-rights edict opening school bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams to transgenders. She had been traveling, and hadn’t heard of it.

“As if they didn’t put enough on us,” she said.

She started talking about all the different state and federal mandates that her school (and all public schools in her state) have to meet, and how incredibly, jaw-droppingly unprepared for school the great majority of the students in her school are. The teacher explained that most of the kids in her part of the world come from impoverished, broken families, both white and black, and that school is the only ordered part of their day.

“Society expects teachers to be miracle-workers,” she said. “We’re supposed to raise these kids” — and then she told some stories about parents she has to deal with who are shockingly neglectful of their kids.

I never did get an answer from her on the Title IX thing. But the very strong impression I did receive was of a teacher and a school trying to serve a distressed rural population, doing heroic work, and who are coming to see the state not as their ally, but their enemy, or at least very much not their friend. In many cases, from this teacher’s description of life in their school, the primary job of the teacher is social worker. Most of the kids in the school have been failed and are being failed by the adults in their lives. The teachers — who aren’t paid much — are all they have.

Again, for all I know, this particular teacher might support the new ruling, so I don’t want to attribute to her a position she doesn’t hold. But I very much got the impression that the task of educating kids in her poor, rural district is so monumental, given the social breakdown there, that she resents the government (federal or state) piling one more difficult-to-implement thing onto their shoulders. Knowing the part of the world in which she’s teaching, any attempt to obey the new Obama directive would cause an uproar.

Tough. Such are the priorities of the urbanized cosmopolitans who run the Democratic Party.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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