Marieta Irwin: Attacks on us teachers are false and frightening. I cannot stay silent.
Writing a guest op-ed for the Des Moines Register, teacher Marieta Irwin speaks out against the current wave of attacks on education, particularly from state senator Jake Chapman.
I am a teacher. As a teacher, I have been following state Sen. Jake Chapman and his recent comments. At the opening session of the Iowa Senate this month, he said, “One doesn’t have to look far to see the sinister agenda occurring right before our eyes. The attack on our children is no longer hidden. Those who wish to normalize sexually deviant behavior against our children, including pedophilia and incest, are pushing this movement more than ever before. Our children should be safe and free from this atrocious assault.”
This is a direct quote. Chapman has said his comments were mischaracterized. His comment apparently originates from his desire to ban particular books from school libraries. I won’t take time to elaborate on the fact that every school library already has policies in place to decide which books are or are not on their shelves. Parents already have rights to know what students are reading in classrooms and teachers already make alternatives to required readings. I trust schools and parents to follow their protocol and arrive at a decision for that district. Chapman has also said he will introduce legislation to make it a felony for school employees to distribute obscene books. He has not explained who will get to deem a piece of literature obscene.
“Iowa has some of the best public teachers, that is why my children attend public schools. However, it is undeniable that there are some who are pushing this agenda, it is also a fact that we have had multiple teachers charged this year with sexual contact with their students. I will always stand up for what is right! I will always defend and protect our children!”
Chapman’s words about teachers are mere platitudes. He shows his real beliefs when he implies that sexual assault is common and accepted among educators. Anyone, anyone, who is accused of sexual assault, should be investigated and, if there is evidence, prosecuted. Regardless of their profession, social, economic status, or community involvement. Predators, unfortunately, can be found in many professions. Police officers, priests/ministers, judges, doctors, and politicians have been found guilty of sexual assault. But, Chapman hasn’t tried to kindle righteous indignation toward these professions or individuals. He’s targeted only teachers in an attempt to continue divisions. His comment that teachers are pushing a “sinister agenda” is untrue. The only thing educators are pushing is the science of learning, helping students build critical thinking skills, and optimizing learning for everyone.