Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Alan Proffitt is a sixth-grade teacher at Park View Middle School in Yucaipa in Southern California. Since his school adopted the Impressions reading series five years ago, he has been in almost daily conflict with parents representing the religious right. (Critics claim the Impressions reader, used in schools nationally and which includes works by T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis, advocates witchcraft and teaches disrespect for adults.) Proffitt’s experience is becoming all too common.

The first time parents came to monitor my classroom, they sat at the back of the room, taking notes and whispering back and forth. Pretty soon they sat through the whole day, interrupting the lessons. They’d jump in and ask, “What do you mean by that?”

We have battles over everything. We teachers have to stop and think every day about the videos we select, the materials we bring into the classroom, even the vocabulary words we choose. In mathematics today, we divided a fraction, and got the repeating decimal .666. One child became visibly agitated because, of course, this was the sign of Satan. “I’m sorry, but you’re waaaay off base here,” I said. “This is a repeating decimal. There is nothing else to it.” I don’t want to step on a child’s religious beliefs, but in a math classroom, I’m there to teach math. I’m sure I’ll receive a call about the decimal tonight. My home number is now unlisted. Over 40 percent of the teachers here have unlisted numbers because of calls like this.

To avoid these confrontations, I do a lot of self-censoring. I don’t discuss certain issues raised in a story, such as death, for fear of offending some parent. Whenever they complain, we have to meet with the [school] board and go through the entire process. It’s definitely a wearing-down strategy. They know that after awhile it is not worth the effort for us. So we become very bland in our teaching. We just present the information. We don’t interact with students. What’s most difficult is when the kids themselves bring up intolerant views. As angry as it can make me, I have to remember that they’re just parroting their parents.

This experience really affects daily life. When I moved to Yucaipa, the community seemed very friendly, very open. Now I can’t even go to the store for milk without having some kind of confrontation with parents. It’s come to the point of name-calling–“spawn of the devil,” “Godless heathen” are real favorites.

Last October, I sold my house in Yucaipa and moved my family to a nearby town because it’s more anonymous.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate