When MAGA Claus Came To Town

Posted on February 12, 2021


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According to a 19th century legend, the Truth and the Lie meet one day. The Lie says to the Truth: “It’s a marvelous day today”! The Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was really beautiful. They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well. The Lie tells the Truth: “The water is very nice, let’s take a bath together!” The Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice. They undress and start bathing. Suddenly, the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the Truth and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back. The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage.The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein, its shame. Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because, the World, in any case, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked Truth.The world famous painting The Truth Coming Out of the Well” Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1896.

My friend, Maurice, recently shared the art & anecdote above, and for me, it illustrates what happened to make me decide to leave the classroom–on several levels, from what creates a safe learning environment, to how people learn to read and write, to how we can know what people learn, to white supremacy, to misogyny, to violations of civil and human rights.

I’ve come to think of my last few years in the high school English classroom as the time when MAGA Claus came to town. As a member of Cult 45, MAGA Claus brought an ugly hostility for democratic values like free speech, separation of church and state, and racial and gender equality.

The biggest LIE that MAGA Claus perpetuated: APS Teachers are required to teach human history from a Christian perspective.

FUCK THAT. The TRUTH is that the Christian religion is a human invention, like all the other religious traditions that humans have invented, and we can see the evidence of this in history, archeology, architecture, and many types of artifacts. For 25 years, I taught the truth, but in 2019, MAGA Claus directed me to lie about human history, so I retired.

Beyond the local scene, another HUGE LIE that is required for most teachers, everywhere, is about the “importance” of standardized curriculum or testing. There are NO standardized children. NWEA, MME, SAT, and the whole lot are tools of white supremacy and do far more harm than good to children. Furthermore, the tech companies have access to expose children to anything through the content they include, and teachers and administrators have no knowledge or control over ANY of that content. If that isn’t enough of a concern, there’s also all the data that is being collected on each child, every minute they’re on the computer, every keystroke they make.

The TRUTH is that the data that standardized assessments produce is useless in helping children OR helping teachers understand what children learn. It is a dehumanizing exercise that does not benefit our children or our community, and it literally made me ill to participate in activities that harm children and the teachers for whom test scores are used as carrot and stick.

I can tell you more about what your child’s literacy strengths and weaknesses are by reading a picture book and talking about it with them than 1000 hours of standardized testing will ever tell anyone–and so can any teacher assess a student’s skills and abilities in real life, in any subject, from mathematics to canoeing.

As Americans, we are now in the grip of many big lies that have been perpetuated by Cult 45, and it’s going to take Herculean efforts to turn the tide. I hope we’re up to the task. Our lives (re: coronavirus) and our democracy depend on it.

lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy
On email: lisagay.eddy1@gmail.com