When I was a student in public school, I had a lot of problems with history teachers who taught dogmatically from either a liberal or a conservative point of view. I wanted them to make me think, not to swallow their predigested political viewpoints.
In an Oct. 6, 2014, letter to this paper [“Public education is not the problem], Grover Johnson dismissed those who differ by reminding us that “I have experience and training in public schools. Very few of you have.” In response, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me based on my teaching experience or doctorate, but rather, on factual information and cogent arguments.
If I were in Mr. Johnson’s class today, and he were still teaching, here is what I would respond, even if it got me in trouble.
• “Teacher, you say over and over again that ‘liberalism’ and ‘socialism’ differ, but a while ago, Norman Thomas, the Socialist leader, stopped running for president and said, ‘The Democrats have adopted our platform.’
“Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Democratic leader, couldn’t say on Chris Mathews how liberalism and socialism differ, and a growing number of Democrats, counted in the polls as ‘liberals,’ endorse self-described socialist Bernie Sanders for president. Could you explain how you know the difference between ‘liberalism’ and ‘socialism’ again?”
• “Teacher, we got rid of sanctions on Cuba because we say they don’t work in changing behavior, but you feel that even ‘the fear of sanctions’ being re-imposed will keep Iran from violating the agreement. Isn’t this contradictory? The biggest problem with your argument, as Secretary Kerry admits, is there is nothing in the agreement to restore sanctions. This agreement has been endorsed the Security Council, which is recognized by many nations as having the force of law, and thus will be hard to change, especially with Russia and China as Security Council members. Is Secretary Kerry wrong about sanctions?”
• “Teacher, you avoid acknowledging any issues people have brought up about the Iran Accords. Iran constantly threatens Israel with a second holocaust, murders Iranian dissidents in Europe, has been using paid proxies to attack our Sunni allies, has funded terrorists, has been working on long-range missiles (ignored in the treaty), and persecutes Christians and others, none of which they agree to stop. Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan assume that Iran will violate this agreement, as they have with all the others, and are exploring their nuclear options; a bad precedent in a volatile region. Also, they continue to hold American hostages, and Rohani, our treaty partner, has admitted to using peace talks before as a means of continuing nuclear efforts (“While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan. By creating a calm environment we were able to complete the work in Isfahan”). You say that the only reason people oppose this treaty is that they dislike Obama. Can you explain this?”