Freedom is Just Another Word

Here in Florida we have been hearing a lot about protecting freedoms from all those who want to take them away from us. First amendment, Second Amendment, Religion, school choice, etc. Though guns kill more people than cars, we do license people to drive cars but teens are free to own military AR-15s . Though truth matters in some things, we can’t let “Cancel Culture” limit the freedom of people telling untruths or promoting hate speech on campus. Though the state constitution gives counties significant leeway in local legislation, the legislature keeps chipping away local governments freedom to decide what can and cannot be regulated. Though public financing increasingly pays for school choice to schools that are free to ignore state educational standards, public schools are facing ever increasing restrictions and requirements.

The restrictions on what teachers can and cannot say or teach in their classrooms is an affront to the education profession. The current Florida executive and legislative bodies have decided that they can require a history that they want to hear, not one that describes what really happened. The result is that children miss the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and see how we can make a better future. These political leaders also decided that diversity in race, ethnicity or sexual orientation is off limits because it might offend someone. The result is that children do not get to appreciate the struggles and successes of the multi-cultural society America is becoming. Teachers are disillusioned about the profession which at one time was so noble, but now seems to be one test for “correctness” after another.

With 4,000 teacher vacancies in Florida at the start of the school year, there is a crisis in public education. Private schools are not immune as the search for quality teachers is a challenge for them as well. Bumping up the starting pay will not help keep teachers who are abandoning the profession in increasing numbers after a few years on the job. Districts are struggling to find bus drivers, social workers, counselors, food service workers with caps on funding increases imposed by the state. Only when schools stop becoming political tools and public education is recognized as essential to the economic, social and moral success of our country will we be on firmer ground.

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