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Good Teachers Don’t Push Agendas

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By M.P. Cremer

My uncle Jim Purviance is a teacher at Rivercrest High School in northeast Texas where he teaches world geography to freshmen and government and economics to seniors. 

Two things I’ve always admired about Mr. Purviance (when I was in high school, he made me call him this, even at family Thanksgiving) is his flair for Hawaiian shirts before Hawaiian shirts were cool, and his ability to be unbiased. 

Mr. Purviance teaches three classes which, arguably, are the three easiest classes for a teacher to be biased about.  

In world geography, he teaches his students about different cultures and their religious and political beliefs. In economics, Mr. Purviance teaches his classes about the different economies and how they work – or don’t work. In government, he teaches kids who are on the cusp, or just became legal to vote, all about government systems and political parties. 

The point I’m trying to make here is this: Mr. Purviance has every opportunity to share his opinions on religion, social issues, political beliefs, etc. I mean, he hears them from his students every single day during class discussion and even moderates a healthy classroom debate every now and then. 

However, during my four years of high school, in two years of taking his classes, I could’ve told you his opinion on college football and classic country music, but I couldn’t have told you who Mr. Purviance was voting for in an upcoming election, nor many of his opinions, for that matter. 

Why? Because he knows, like any good teacher does, his beliefs on heavy matters need to stay as far away from the classroom as possible. He knows his job is to present undeniable facts in hopes to educate future or new voting American citizens.

I tell y’all this about my uncle because this past week, I was told about the opposite of Mr. Purviance. For the rest of this column, I’ll be keeping Mr. Purviance’s opposite, the school they teach at and the student they influenced private.  

Now, as my hero Paul Harvey says, “Let’s get on with the rest of the story…” 

There’s this seven-year-old kid, let’s call him Tommy, in Fakecity who loves cows. Fakecity is a small town with a school of about 200 kids. Tommy loves school, but was elated to be out of school for the summer because he knew his summer would be spent halter breaking his show heifer so he could show her at the Fakecity County Fair.  

And that’s exactly what Tommy told his buddies and one of Fakecity Independent School District’s teachers at recess. However, Ms. Teacher didn’t share Tommy’s excitement.

Ms. Teacher actually told Tommy he shouldn’t be excited to work with his show heifer this summer, in fact, he shouldn’t be excited he owned a heifer at all.

“Why?” Tommy asked.

Ms. Teacher was quick to tell him why, “Because cows cause global warming and global warming is bad. Because you have cows, Tommy, it makes you a bad person.” 

Keep in mind I’m paraphrasing here, but this is what Tommy took away from the interaction.

So, Tommy goes home to his family’s ranch and his mom – we’ll call her Mary – could tell something was up. 

She asked Tommy what was wrong, to her surprise, he responded with, “Mom, am I a bad person for having cows?”

Mary told him no and asked Tommy where he got that from. Tommy then told her about the teacher at his school who told him he was a bad person for owning cows because his cows were killing the planet; and by Tommy’s family owning and raising these “planet killers,” he too was killing the planet, making little ol’ Tommy a “bad person.”

Mary told me Tommy was clearly upset. She assured him he was not a bad person, and neither was she for raising cattle. Mary also explained climate change and how cattle are actually good for the environment and the teacher at Tommy’s school was misinformed.

Right about now is when Mary realized she’s between a rock and a hard place because she knows Tommy should mind his teachers and respect them, but if they’re spreading false information about Mary’s family’s livelihood and the industry feeding the entire world, maybe he shouldn’t?

At the same time, she’s livid. How could a teacher, knowing the impact they have on children, share blatantly wrong information with their students? 

Better yet, how could a teacher share their opinion on such a heavy topic while actively knowing they’re shaping the minds of impressionable seven-year-olds? Teachers aren’t hired to push agendas, they’re hired to educate and care for their students. 

Needless to say, this entire interaction between Tommy and Ms. Teacher was the last straw in a laundry list of similar discrepancies between Tommy’s family and Ms. Teacher’s school. Mary said she and her husband had already decided to switch Tommy’s school for the upcoming school year anyway, and this issue just made it even more clear their decision was a good one.

“What bugs me the most is there’s such a disconnect between ag and people who live in the rural area where we do, and they’re still pushing these agendas and making these false claims,” 

Mary told me. “We’re surrounded by other ranches and dairy farms, we do what we can to educate the community, yet somehow, there’re still people out there teaching my kid he’s a bad person for owning cows.”

Upon hearing this story, I was baffled. Mary’s right, teachers shouldn’t do this, they should know better – and good for her for setting the record straight with her child.

I share this story with you, not to bash all teachers, but to show y’all anti-ags are active and they may be molding the minds of future consumers. Tommy is a smart kid and thankfully, he asked his parents about an issue such as cattle and climate change, giving them an opportunity to educate. 

But what if Tommy hadn’t asked? What if Tommy went on the rest of his life, thinking his entire family was evil for raising cows? 

False information is all around us – in the news, on social media, even in our school systems. It’s our job to educate the next generation about ag, so let’s get to it.

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