Our kids attend public school in Fayetteville, Ark. It’s not perfect. We are constantly hit with issues that make us pause and wonder if this is really the best educational option for our children. The superintendent of our school district has had no problem sweeping things like the celebration of Christmas (or any religious holiday) from our schools. No decorations, no trees, nothing. Not allowed.
Last year, the superintendent swept away two beloved mascots from our junior high schools. New mascots were voted on and school spirit was essentially squelched at both schools with an underwhelming response from students and parents.
Recently, we were involved in a fight to get all our elementary schools on the same calendar schedule throughout the district. Starting in fall of 2021, families in all of Fayetteville public schools will enjoy having their students on the same learning calendar. Our superintendent allowed one elementary principal to ignore a majority of parent responses to a survey asking to allow all the schools to begin and end at the same time starting in 2020. Scheduled teacher VACATIONS during the extra breaks took precedence. It makes absolutely no sense.
Last week, our sixth-grade daughter got in my car after her day at middle school to regale me with a recent science lesson she had. Her teacher had told the class that cattle were polluting our waterways and that plant-based diets were a way to preserve the Earth. What? My eyes bugged out of my head and I’m pretty sure a little bit of steam smoked out of my ears as I tried to keep the car on the road. I had her repeat what they had been taught in the classroom.
Now, my first instinct was to fire off an email to the sixth-grade science teacher to see if this was legitimately in the curriculum. Instead, I explained to our daughter that what she’d learned wasn’t 100 percent fact. There are some farmers and ranchers who do not take care of their land, waterways and livestock but that number is very minimal. I also explained to her that it behooves farmers and ranchers to take the very best care of their land, cattle and natural resources because this is how they make a living. I then told her that her sixth-grade science teacher was welcome to visit our cattle farm any time to see how we care for our natural resources, if she was interested in facts. I told her not to be afraid to raise her hand and stand up for her family’s heritage in cattle farming.
The public-school system is educating our children on core concepts of math, reading, writing and social studies. We, as parents, are responsible for teaching our kids about biblical truths and what it takes to be a citizen of good character. I love that our kids are involved in scouting and 4-H to help reinforce character lessons. We are also liable for helping them discern facts when it comes to science.
The lesson I’ve learned is that I need to use this God-given big mouth I have to stand up for what I believe in. When our kids see us putting up a fight worth fighting, they learn to stand up for what’s right as well. There’s no shortage of opportunities to stand up and educate people on the facts that define agriculture today. Sometimes a fight is worth fighting, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’