By now, it’s obvious that the reactionary culture warriors who want to reshape American education are inspiring a serious liberal counter-mobilization in response. Remarkably, this backlash to the backlash is gaining momentum in some of the reddest parts of the country.
A raucous school board meeting in Hernando County, Fla., on Tuesday night captured what’s striking about this new phenomenon. The scene featured teachers pointedly declaring that right-wing attacks are driving them to quit, even as parents and students forcefully stood up on their behalf, demanding a halt to the hysteria.
“I have never seen such fear from my colleagues as I have seen in the last two months,” social studies teacher Victoria Hunt told the board.
The whole affair really put the culture-war-mongers to shame. Not that they’ll see it that way; as the meeting also showed, scenes like this — with maximum rage, fear, tension and suspicion surging between parents and educators — are precisely the outcome they want.
This county, north of Tampa, voted for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022 by a 41-point margin. It’s where fifth-grade teacher Jenna Barbee recently enraged local enforcers of right-wing orthodoxy by showing her class “Strange World,” a Disney movie with an openly gay character. The Florida Department of Education is investigating whether she violated DeSantis’s “don’t say gay” law restricting classroom discussion of sex and gender.
Barbee is resigning, but she’s hardly the only one. At Tuesday’s meeting, local teacher Daniel Scott gave a moving speech, declaring that the climate of rage is driving him out of the profession.
“I don’t feel that I can adequately provide a safe environment for my students anymore,” Scott said, denouncing the “draconian working conditions that are causing many such as myself to abandon this honored career.” [Continue reading…]