Tuesday morning on the Zeb Bell Show, Zeb asked Wayne Hurst (the chairman of the Cassia County Republicans) why the United States Constitution is not being taught in our schools.
Now, the motivation behind Mr. Bell's question has a long history, a history that residents of Cassia County are quite familiar with and a history that I personally have had a run in with. And when I say "run in," I mean like the head-on collision I had with a guard rail on the interstate two years ago that left me with cracked ribs, a mangled car, and an outrageous ambulance bill. The motivation behind Mr. Bell's question is pretty simple--he despises teachers. Having lived in Cassia County for a good chunk of my life, Zeb Bell's radio show was nothing new to me. I had listened several times over the years as he ripped apart teachers for what they were teaching in the classroom and for what they were not. I had listened for years to a man dead set on running the reputation of public education into the ground and frankly, I had had enough.
There is this part of my brain that operates on its own terms in situations where I have clearly had more than I can take. When that part of my brain kicks into gear I am capable of amazing things. When I have had enough I am ruthless. So I wrote a letter to the editors of both the South Idaho Press and the Times-News. I truly did not expect anything to come of that letter, but much came of that letter. I was slaughtered on Zeb's show. His overall perception of me was that I had been handed everything all of my life and did not understand sacrifice. He spoke about Vietnam and friends he lost there. He explained to his audience that he understood what true sacrifice was and that I was clueless. He also made a statement regarding the fact that my mother taught in the school district and I was coming to the defense of teachers either at her request or she had written the letter. His comments could not have been more off base. Yes, my mother taught in the Cassia County School District, but not even she knew that I had written the letter. At that time I may not have even been living at home. Yes, I have been blessed to live in a time without a draft and will never fathom the sacrifices that came with Vietnam, but let me assure you, I know what sacrifice is. Nothing has ever been handed to me. I have worked for everything I have and have never accepted anything on a silver platter.
That day in a maximum of thirty minutes, my name went out on the airwaves in disdain, and yet just as quickly I was defended by another radio personality in the area, I saw a letter to the editor from my English teacher's husband in praise of my own letter, and most importantly gained the respect of every teacher in Declo High School. The day that Zeb Bell took it upon himself to criticize a high school senior who sought only to praise the efforts of underpaid and underappreciated teachers was the day I became a true advocate for public education.
Tuesday it was my former high school government teacher who informed me of the happenings on the Zeb Bell show. Mostly because his own name came up. Wayne Hurst knew, just as well as I know, that not a single student has gone through Declo High School without being taught the Constitution. Not one. If they have they never showed up to class. Even today, three years out of high school, I know the Constitution. I know the Bill of Rights. I know that section one of the 26th amendment provided me the right to vote following my 18th birthday. I know that the only reason that Mr. Bell is able to get on a soapbox while on the air and rant about what a poor job he thinks teachers are doing, teachers who everyday teach in classrooms that are poorly supplied and struggling due to budget cuts and unfunded mandates, is because the 1st amendment of the United States Constitution allows him to do so.