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Teachers who teach ‘certain topics’ want you to think they’re brave

‘Arrogance and self-awareness seldom go hand in hand’

A self-proclaimed “advocate for teachers, students, and families” is the latest in the op-ed pages of Education Week to try to make you believe she’s brave for covering “certain topics.”

Just what are these “certain topics” that Marissa McCue Armitage teaches, given her bio notes she’s an elementary-level music teacher?

One, apparently, was Juneteenth, the celebration of freedom for black Americans in Texas over 150 years ago. Armitage writes that she found herself wondering how to cover this “without being targeted by a Facebook frenzy and a vigilante campaign.”

In addition, following the advice of an inservice presentation on equity, Armitage (pictured) says she “planned out age-appropriate conversations for each grade level” about the “true” history of Thanksgiving.

“I told my students that despite the prevailing story of Thanksgiving, it wasn’t a harmonious collaboration between settlers and Indigenous communities,” she writes. “Instead, [Native] land had been stolen. I told them how the early settlers had brought disease to the people native to this land.”

Armitage also notes she taught a lesson on “gender norms” by reading the book “The Boy & and the Bindi,” the author of which is transgender.

Regarding the Thanksgiving lesson, Armitage says she worried about “colleagues walking by [her] classroom” and the paraprofessionals assisting students in the class. What would they think? she wondered.

So, we have an elementary school music teacher covering history and health-related topics who admits she’s wary of what her colleagues and the general public think — that she’d be considered “un-American.” Why?

Might it be because she was giving unbalanced, and hence inaccurate, takes on topics which aren’t part of her subject area?

MORE: Local Democratic pol tells parents: ‘Let teachers teach and shut up’

Do you think Armitage mentioned anything even remotely related to this clip below? Or that how, in the early era of colonization, Europeans had no clue that diseases with which they were long familiar (like smallpox) would be so devastating to the Natives?

Not to mention, the allegedly sanitized version of Thanksgiving wasn’t taught even in my earliest days of teaching (over 30 years ago), nor during my student teaching semester years before that. But the fiction that Thanksgiving is taught this way persists — so that far-left educators can “correct the record” and teach the complete opposite. 

Armitage did end up getting some parent complaints about the lesson. This is understandable as, again, she’s an elementary-level music teacher. If she wants to go above and beyond what this position entails, she should be prepared to deal with the ramifications. She made a conscious, and self-righteous, decision to be deliberately provocative in the name of social justice, after all.

As a long-time teacher, I’m sympathetic to teachers’ concerns about tedious and specious parent complaints. We live, after all, in a time where everything seems to give offense in one way or another. I once had to defend teaching the word “negro” — Spanish for “black” — as if I nefariously had something to do with the evolution of the Spanish language. I certainly had no problem with the defense; what I did mind were the not-so-subtle accusations of racism.

I also never had a problem worrying about what my colleagues and paraprofessionals would think about anything I was teaching. In fact, I frequently invited passersby into my class to check out what was happening.

Armitage and those like her would have you believe they’re “brave” for defending the “truth” about the topics noted — that they’re standing up to unenlightened colleagues and bigoted parents most of whom haven’t existed since the days of black and white “cowboys and injuns” flicks.

The reality is that the education establishment, and current federal government, stand firmly in Armitage’s corner. On the other hand, we’ve seen what these two entities have done to those concerned about what’s going on in today’s classrooms — the scariest of which was being designated “domestic terrorists.”

The truly brave folks are those who challenge these political behemoths: teachers like Theodore Olson and Daniel Buck, and parent activists such as Nicole Solas and Asra Nomani.

In closing, I’d like to offer Ms. Armitage (and those like her) a little advice:

MORE: Teachers union wanted social media companies to censor critical race theory critics

IMAGES: AJR photo/Shutterstock.com; Marissa Armitage/Facebook

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.