Random Thoughts: Bevy of bad bills flood the Statehouse


By Travis Mounts, managing editor

Every year, subcommittees at the Kansas Legislature propose and consider a number of mind-numbing, stupid bills.
This year, those bad bills are especially abundant. A number are nothing more than an attack on public education and the educators who are the backbone of that system.
The bills mirror a nationwide effort by extremists to tear down public education. They want to see education fail, and they want to see tax dollars funneled to private schools that do not have to take in special education students, students of color or students growing up in financial hardship.
But it goes beyond that. These forces want to promote their world viewpoints and silence anyone who believes differently than them. They have little room in their worlds for people of different backgrounds, creeds or beliefs, and they have little room in their hearts for people who are not like them.
A number of boogeymen are being thrown out to whip up hysteria in support of their efforts.
CRT is at the center of the latest effort to tear down public schools.
Do you know what CRT is? Do you even know what the letters stand for?
I’ve seen plenty of people on TV and social media who are dead-set against critical race theory, but cannot even answer the simple question of what it is.
The short answer is that it is an advanced-level college discipline examining how race and the legal system interact. It is not and has never been in grade schools or high schools. It is hardly in any colleges; rather, it is a discipline primarily for those going into the legal profession.
These assaults on public education go beyond CRT. There is an effort to strip the ability of the state to require vaccines for children attending schools or daycares. It is an overreaction to the misinformation that has been pumped out over the COVID-19 vaccine. If successful, get ready for measles and smallpox to make comebacks. The horrors of polio were mostly gone by the time I was a child, but older generations recall the deaths and debilitating effects of that terrible disease. In a little more than a generation, polio went from a universal fear to a universally-defeated disease.
That could be undone, and it would take less than a generation.
There are onerous efforts regarding teaching materials and lesson plans. The thing is, you already can find out what is being taught. All you have to do is ask. Teachers want parents to be involved and engaged.
There is a push to punish teachers if they teach something – anything, really – that does not support a parent’s belief system. It is an attack on teachers, who over the past two years have endured the most difficult stretch of their careers.
A public school is supposed to expose students to facts and a variety of information, how to handle that information, and how to critically think about what is in front of them. Public schools are not supposed to teach students specific religious or political views.
That is your job as a parent. If you have a specific world view or political/religious belief, that is your job to teach. Stop asking schools to do your job.
If you view basic education as a threat to something you believe, you may need to ask yourself why that is. A little self-reflection is never a bad thing.
Public education is supposed to be for all of us. And “all of us” have a wide variety of beliefs, viewpoints and experiences. Learning about the differences between us actually helps us understand each other, develop empathy and hopefully build bridges between us.
If understanding, empathy and build-bridging threaten your way of life, the problem is not public education. The problem is you.
Instead of tearing down public education, maybe you should just remove yourself from that system you despise so much.
The rest of us value our teachers, value our schools and value our education. We pay taxes, too, and we’d like to keep our system as it is, thank you very much.