What does it mean to have Free Speech? The first thing that comes to mind is that we should be able to say what we need to say, within reason. That’s the little editor in my brain telling me that we don’t just Say Anything! That could be Anarchy! That could mean a bunch of opposing views screamed at each other from rooftops and that could turn ugly and dangerous really fast.
Quiet talking about or against the other side, huddled together in little corners, or underground can get divisive and threatening really fast also.
I don’t know why I’m thinking of these things tonight other than the teachers in my district are getting ready to strike because the collective bargaining isn’t getting them their desired results. One thing I’ve heard is that the Administration is working off of some document that gives 12 Steps to Crushing a Union. They are using tax-payer dollars to market their side of the difficulty and make themselves look like they are doing everything they can to keep our kids safe. Safe? Like teachers are suddenly going to start abusing the children who are in their classrooms every day… where they are not allowed to talk about this big, giant thing that is going on in their lives.
Some teachers, I’ve heard, are planning to cross picket lines – the theoretical picket lines – there will be no one standing in the way of a person trying to walk into the school. They will be call scabs. They are doing it because going without pay will make them lose their homes. They don’t want to lose their homes. Who can blame them?
My office, a staffing service, was contacted to help with Janitorial staff during the strike. I’m taking down the information and hearing that it would mean jobs for 14-16 of my temps. I’m delighted until I realize it would mean putting my people into a position where they are crossing picket lines. I call my corporate office to find out if there is additional insurance needed for that sort of thing. I’m told that we have a company policy not to cross picket lines – it puts undue stress and potential danger on our people. The whole while, I’m thinking, and yet, I’m supposed to send my 2ndgrader to school during this crisis? I think not.
So, we will be playing and learning at home. Luckily, we have our older son helping out with pre-school for Bean. He is looking at some cool science experiments they can do together (with great loud outcomes, and very little actual danger. Whew!).
And I wonder how we will talk in class about Free Speech at some point down the road a couple months or years from now in a Social Studies class? Will the teacher be able to say what was on her heart during this time, or will the administration have succeeded in scaring the teachers into behaving properly, and editing themselves to only say what is safe? What does this mean for our country, our educational system in the long run?