Dear Mr. Trump,
I’m a teacher and it’s August ― you know what that means! (Nope, not time to sign up for the back to school NRA training course.) It’s time to set up shop for the coming school year. Teachers are gathering supplies, planning curriculum, and dreaming up lessons by the minute. This year, as I consider the students who will show up at school bright-eyed and looking for assurance in a few weeks, a few things have me stumped. Maybe you can offer guidance?
In past years, I have gone the traditional route in setting up my classroom. I plan community building activities so we can work together and get to know each other. My tried and true books on friendship, kindness, and integrity are displayed and ready to spark discussion about what we want our learning community to look like. Empowering students with a belief that it is safe to share ideas and be themselves is a fundamental part of our first few days together; it’s as imperative as learning their names. We will forge ahead together as learners with mutual respect for each other.
In our first week, we define learning goals and set expectations for group dynamic. The books I read foster principles of respect and friendship. Some of my favorites are Mean Jean, the Recess Queen, Ruby the Copy Cat, and Oliver Button is a Sissy (This one sounds right up your alley, but trust Me the character who uses name-calling to get a laugh is perceived to be a bully.)
The messages in these stories do not fit with your vision for our country. Like NATO and the WTO, maybe they don’t belong in the America you envision for us all?
These books address taunting, exclusion and ultimately inclusion in touching and thought provoking ways. This fall, after following news coverage of your campaign, and reading article after article detailing your
crusade against interaction with the world at large, I can’t help but worry wonder: What books will I read to my students if you are elected?
I like to read Chrysanthemum in the beginning of the year. It is the heartfelt story of a mouse who is full of self love and confidence, until she goes to school and is bullied by another mouse— about her name. Chrysanthemum; it’s too long, it’s a flower, and it’s Just. Not. Cool. To put it in a way I know you’ll understand, Chrysanthemum is perceived as a Real Loser. As a result, Chrysanthemum loses her spunk, her love of self, and her desire to go to school. The antagonist of the story takes pleasure in mocking Chrysanthemum and enjoys the attention and laughs she gets from the other mice (Winning!).
This story generates a lot of discussion among students about the power of words. In their simplest form, our conversations are about names, clothes, hairstyles and appearances. But often, they reach the complexity of cultural differences, religious beliefs, and the diversity each member of our class brings into the classroom daily.
Every year, I find myself in awe of the depth that kids can go in their desire to understand and accept each other because of these differences, not in spite of them. Passionately, they examine how words can make them feel left out, angry, or afraid to share ideas. Chrysanthemum’s teacher leads by example and because the children take cues from her, they adjust their own behavior and stop bullying and teasing. Because the teacher, a leader, in the story sets a tone of kindness and acceptance, the children follow suit. We consider the power of leaders and agree that an admirable leader uses their power for good.
If you are elected president (gulp). How can I read Chrysanthemum anymore? How can I read Mean Jean, the Recess Queen or Oliver Button is a Sissy? The messages in these stories do not fit with your vision for our country. Like NATO and the WTO, maybe they don’t belong in the America you envision for us all? Forgive me for drawing this parallel (I’m sure I am really reaching), but if I read these books, the antagonist (name caller, bully) will no longer be the character with the striking behavior but the one who most resembles our nation’s highest leader... um… well… our president.
What do you mean when you say, “I’m going to hit them so hard, their heads would spin and they would never recover"?
So I seek your help on behalf of myself and other teachers wondering how we will
explain support your actions with the character building books currently on our shelves. (Kindness, cooperation, self-control, Blah.Blah.Blah.) Maybe in your arsenal of supporters, you have a connection to some unconventional children’s book authors? Or perhaps you have always wanted to try your hand at penning a picture book with a message? Trust Me; I’m in Charge of the Lunch Table. Maybe you know an ex-ballerina speech writer who could find "inspiration" in the existing children literature? Hydrangea: the story of a disabled hamster who is mocked. You get the idea… the current children’s literature dances around real issues we will need to discuss in our classrooms (deep breath) if you are elected.
I know you are extremely busy, making sacrifices, building structures, and uh…doing “a lot”…er…maybe reading the constitution? Did you ever take up Mr. Khizr Khan’s nice offer to loan you his? If not, I hear they are giving them away for free at the ACLU right up until election day!
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is whining.” (No Whining!.. But Winning is OK!) In an attempt to expedite the process of whipping out some books to support teachers in
indoctrinating enlightening our students on the fundamental tenets of your ideologies, I have made a list of titles for you. Please feel free to put your own spin on them, this was just a quick composite of the “key” concepts that jumped out to me over the past several months.
Where the Winners Are - A tale of winners and losers. Moral: Don’t be a loser.
Me First! - Explaining the principles of nationalism to children. Why we do NOT need the rest of the world to make America Great (…again). Bonus activities for the classroom include a “how to” guide for commandeering and hoarding coveted supplies like: smelly pens, magic rub erasers, and hard to find sharpened No.2 pencils with erasers still attached. Also included: a full sheet of “Mine” labels to award to your favorite students, i.e. The Winners.
Mrs. Dunn Has a Gun - Helping teachers explain why they’re strapped during story hour. Includes an easy to use scope and holster that conveniently attach to most classroom easels.
Let’s Build a Wall - Fun with Legos, blocks and geography. *Don’t miss the classroom layout ideas in the back with creative and easy seating arrangements to use once you’ve learned the ethnic breakdown of your students.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Why Are You Dead? (Climate change and other lies science tells you!) Included maps illustrate how the polar ice caps have not changed in the last 40+ years! (Well... OK… on second thought, maybe not such a good idea. But I’m sure with that off-the-charts IQ you’ll think of something, right? If not, stay tuned, you’ll really like the next suggestion!)
Facts Schmacts Bo Bacts - Learn to support your thinking with made up stuff -stuff-bo-buff-banana-fana-fo-fuff (See it’s fun already!)
We All Laugh at Giraffe - Teach children the art of mockery to draw attention away from their own mistakes or verbal blunders. (Maybe some tips from
Russian hackers your supporters on how to dig up dirt on others would be helpful here?)
Who’s the Prettiest Girl in the Room? - Being attractive is important! Fun with graphing, data collection and sexism. (Consider including a parent letter to send home with students especially upset by this exercise.)
Mr. White Can Fly, Can You? - Explaining the targeted travel ban to children.
Why isn’t Lee Just Like Me? - Diversity, foreign languages and other unfamiliar cultural differences addressed in a feel good, white-friendly way.
Alexandra and the No Good, Terrible, Very Bad Boss - Young girls explore the two choices they have if they are ever harassed at work:
1) Don’t Say Anything
2) Switch Careers
Companion reading: Who’s the Prettiest Girl in the Class? and How to Be the Hot Piece of Ass Even Your Own Dad Would Date.
Oh, and one last thing: It would be handy to have a chart to hang in the room with some of your “key phrases” and definitions, just so we can fully explain how and when to use them. Off the top of my head, what do you mean when you say, “I’m going to hit them so hard, their heads would spin and they would never recover"? It would be useful for teachers to have an operational definition of how you meant the word “hit” when explaining it to our students.
Oh, and when you say, “She’s the devil,” are we talking full on fire-and-horns-Lucifer? If so, we might get around addressing that in school with the whole “separation of church and state” thing. But just in case the kids start calling each other devils, maybe throw that term on there as well for reference. And why not, for fun, include “loser” so we can see the many ways it can be put to use. We love homographs in class. Oh! Gosh, no! Don’t worry- homographs, as in multiple meaning words: run, bass, bow….oh never mind…
I hope this is
obviously insane helpful. Not to add pressure (I know you’re busy self-destructing campaigning) but school starts soon, so anything you come up with in the next few weeks (or at least before we all move to Canada November) would be much appreciated!
Terrified Dedicated Teacher