Honesty, humility, integrity, the pursuit of knowledge, consideration of others, and hard work. These were the values my parents and teachers instilled in me as I grew up in the 1960s and 70s. They were presented as American values.
Sadly, as a teacher, I see each of these values seriously endangered in today’s America—even in my classroom.
I feel like Donald Trump and the Congressional Republicans have made a liar out of me and other teachers like me. Every day, I stand before my students and hold them responsible for their work and for their behavior. I preach the values I have always believed our country stood for, and I do my best to model them. But I worry that my words and actions fall on deaf ears. With each passing day since Mr. Trump’s election, I ask myself “Why would my students believe a word I say when a man who has been caught in thousands of lies, who gropes women with impunity, who cheats people out of the money he owes them, and who may have cheated his way to victory holds the most prestigious job in the world?” And I wonder, “Doesn’t Mr. Trump’s immunity from all accountability give young, impressionable minds the idea that honesty and integrity are for suckers?”
Our presidents are role models; and I shudder to think about the messages my eighth grade students get from our current president. But, he would not get away with any of this if Congress did its job. So as much as Mr. Trump assaults our cultural values, the Republican Senators and Congressmen who protect him are equally responsible for the daily attacks on our institutions and the erosion of our democratic norms. Thus, we need to vote them out.
On November 6, 2018 we will have the opportunity to do just that in NJ-7. Our vote on that day is our last best hope of protecting our democracy from further erosion. We all need to vote to replace Leonard Lance, our current Republican U.S. Representative (and a solid vote for the Trump/Republican establishment and Tea Party agendas), with Democrat, Tom Malinowski. I’ve met Mr. Malinowski and I feel confident that a vote for him is also a vote for honesty, humility, integrity, the pursuit of knowledge, consideration of others, and hard work--the values that I strive to instill in my students.
Grade 8 English Teacher