Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cleaning up the daily dumpster fire

 

Donald Trump has done a great job in making my job a whole lot harder.  His election mixed with the intensely politicized vibe of a Mendocino County public school staff creates a fifteen minute daily briefing that works towards putting out fires created by the new idiot in charge and the troll-easy opposition that’s ready to overthrow the government (albeit with no guns). 

The informational fires have been nicely put into four categories of Trump/Resistance stories by Nate Silver; founder of FiveThirtyEight.com.

Level 4:  Regular Presidential stuff that’s been exaggerated.  The Executive hiring freeze was a great example of something that happens all the time in Presidential hand-overs (especially party switches) and was treated by many parents and staff as the beginning of total information break down.  Also at this level are the typical “elections-have-consequences” clause like signing off on the reinstatement of the Keystone XL pipeline.  You don’t have to like some of the policies but they are neither abnormal from an institutional standpoint, nor abnormal from a Republican policy standpoint.

Level 3:  Premature or misreported rumors that are either false or have already happened.  The removal of abortion funding from international organizations was portrayed in some places as the end of abortion rights for the United States.  Seriously, I really had students coming in saying that the Executive Order was ending Roe v. Wade and that X teacher had read up extensively on the presidential decree.  The problem is that A) It was not unprecedented, B) It had nothing to do domestic policy,  and C) Executive Orders don’t override SCOTUS cases.  So I explained the history and exactly what the policy says.  The kids can develop their Frame of Reference from what’s real, not emotional logic.

Level 2:  Sensational but inconsequential stuff that Donald Trump does to troll and distract.  The nonsense over the crowd size and the commentary over the illegals voting in California and New York would fit here.  It’s also safe to say that some things at this level could drift into Level 1 but at this point you simply keep presenting an overwhelming amount of information to push back the idiocy of the comments. 

Level 1:  Genuinely unprecedented and troubling actions.  The 20% Import Tax has some serious economic ramifications that those need to be economically investigated.  Trump’s refugee ban with a religious exemption mixed with his unprecedented lack of organizational preparation is much more disturbing.  I need to research the hell out of this thing and come to class with realistic possible outcomes, a history of this kind of action, and the overall context of the policy angle in relation to everything else. 

People talk about the Resistance to the President.  Everybody has their own way of resistance and mine is to educate people using reality and evidence, not emotional logic and hyperbole.  But the teaching days are getting more and more difficult and as the Social Science classes at Ukiah High School become the neutral zones for political discourse, it’s our job to step it up and be ready. 

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