Why Equality Matters in Schools

Dear Governor LePage:

This open letter is to invite you to spend a day with me in a public school classroom here in MSAD 75.  I’m hoping the experience might make you reconsider your harsh criticism of the Maine Education Association today for endorsing the equal right to marriage.

To begin, I’d like to introduce you to a Kindergartener named Tara.  Like many her age, Tara is full of questions.  One of Tara’s questions is why her mommies aren’t allowed to get married like all the other families can.

After answering, please listen to Tara’s teacher and to other teachers.  Please ask them if a parent’s equal rights matter to student learning — and if so, why.  Ask students, too.

Observe, too, what students learn from what is not taught.  Notice what goes on before, after, and even during math and reading lessons.

Here are a few things I experienced as a teacher which directly impacted my own students’ learning:

  • Kids who could not learn because they were bullied simply for being or acting different — and whose test scores plummeted.
  • Kids who whispered “gay” as the worst possible insult — rarely meaning to hurt, but usually doing so far more than they realized.
  • Kids who had two moms or dads, and who deserved as much as any child or parent to be accepted and welcomed into the life of the school.
  • Kids who learned tolerance in school, and who courageously stood up for others less fortunate.

Governor, a good learning environment is a place where all are welcomed, are treated as equals, and feel safe enough to take intellectual risks.  This is common sense, and it’s the Maine way.

Just as education is a great equalizer, so equality is a great educator.

But don’t take my word for it.  Come talk to Tara, and perhaps you’ll see it for yourself.  You name the day, and I’ll be there.