Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Lesson for Neil deGrasse Tyson

I've had great respect for Neil deGrasse Tyson ever since the first time I saw him on Bill Maher's show. I mean, here's a guy, smarter than me, smarter than you, an astrophysicist, an acknowledged expert in his field, speaking the unvarnished truth. Climate change is science, and science is real. Disagreeing with it is like disagreeing with gravity. Then one day, he posts this:

Now there are certainly better interpretations of this statement. After all, there's no context here whatsoever. Is he targeting teachers? Is he targeting the system? Is he questioning Common Core, which claims to create critical thinkers but actually gets kids so accustomed to tedium they might spend several decades working at Walmart without killing themselves?

Frankly, those aren't the first thoughts that came into my mind.

How long have we been reading nonsense from Bill Gates? Does it precede the nonsense from Donald Trump? It's hard to say, but for me it's like stereo. Gates nonsense in the right ear and Trump in the left. A frustrating cacophony of garbage, spread through the entire United States. And not by teachers, but rather by a strangely incurious press. In a country where Fox passes as news and millions view it voluntarily, we have issues. But were they taught that in schools? Aren't teachers regularly vilified for being too "liberal?"

Teachers in the United States are expected to singlehandedly overcome impossible home issues. Gates pretty much gave up on poverty, saying he couldn't fix that, but rather he could fix education. Of course he couldn't do that either. And what he's left us with is a junk science system under which we are judged by standardized test scores, a system deemed invalid by Tyson-level experts like Diane Ravitch and the American Statistical Association. Of course, Tyson himself doesn't seem to know that.

Hey, everyone else does. Go ahead. Put out that statement, offer no context, and let everyone see it. You're an expert so you must be right. Never mind that it's well out of your field of expertise. Who could possibly take it the wrong way?

Really, Dr. Tyson, when you write things like that, you may as well be part of Team Trump. They're going to bend or break union so that working people can't organize. Do you seriously expect quelling teacher voice to ultimately benfit education? And just in case it's escaped your attention, teachers are pretty much the last bastion of vibrant unionism in these United States.

I can't read your mind, but a whole lot of people read your tweets. If you don't provide context, people will fill it in for themselves. In fact, poverty accounts for a whole lot of America's educational standing. Despite the nonsense propagated by Gates, and blindly promoted by Obama in the form of Race to the Top, education alone will not solve the issue.

And with all due respect, Dr. Tyson, if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
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