By Lane Rosencrans
Williamson Strong Guest Blogger
(Former WCS teacher Lane Rosencrans spoke at public comment at the 10/26 Williamson County School Board meeting. Her remarks follow.)
My name is Lane Rosencrans, and until May, I taught English in WCS since 2004. My primary course was eleventh grade English Language and Composition, and the ongoing overreach and intrusion into my classroom ultimately served as the reason why I left. I’m here today to speak on behalf of the thousands of teachers who feel silenced out of fear. If I’m being honest, I’m grateful that I made the choice to leave when I did, though I miss teaching students every single day.
If we claim to be a democracy, we must uphold those ideals which also differ from our own. We cannot fight intolerance with intolerance. To tolerate or learn about a religion does not diminish our own if ours is indeed well-founded and true. It’s asinine to think that to simply regurgitate a culture’s main tenants is a systemic indoctrination of their faith. Not only does that severely misconstrue that faith’s ideals, but to believe that is has any bearing on our own highlights the weakness in our own beliefs. When we play this tape out, we set the stage for a scenario worthy of a dystopian plot; where do we draw the line? Will the novels be next if they don’t promote nationalistic and Christian ideals? How do we learn to engage with others from different walks of life if we know nothing of them? I would say more importantly, we rob students of the opportunity to think, challenge, and solidify their own beliefs and ideas when we censor the information to which they have access. History has shown us before what happens when we limit information and education based on fears and ill-founded logic. My juniors will easily tell you the ramifications as evidenced in the McCarthy Era, though this time we are substituting the boogeyman of Communism for Islam.
I ask you all: how much time have you spent in classrooms this year? Not for photo ops or achievement recognitions, but genuinely from a place of understanding what curriculum implementation looks like. I beg of you: stop creating problems where none exist. Our field is full of issues, most importantly the overbearing presence of testing and a lack of teacher autonomy in curriculum design. Our students need us to challenge them and to inspire them, and this cannot fully happen while a system of teachers is fearful of being recorded or punished for speaking out. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me thinking of leaving this year and wanting to know how it is “on the other side.” They believe you don’t trust them to do their jobs as professionals – and I agree. Parents don’t have input on textbooks because that is OUR job as experts in our field. If this continues, you will lose us – in droves. We did not earn multiple advanced degrees and licenses to have those with no real educational experience other than an election win dictate what we should teach and how, or a government who treats students as data points on graph rather than the curious, malleable intellectuals they are.
Please, let’s return to common sense. Let me be the last good teacher to leave this system, and let’s make decision based on facts rather than fear. Thank you for your time.