Slackjaw
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As A Teacher, I Shouldn’t Have To Pay For Necessary School Supplies Like Confederate Monuments

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Every summer I go back-to-school shopping for my students so I can get the best deals. But since teacher wages have been stagnant for almost a decade, it’s getting more and more difficult for me to afford towering stone statues and dazzling bronze monuments of Confederate generals.

How else, though, will I be able to teach my students history? Those who fail to learn the past are doomed to repeat it — so it’s vital that, when my students walk into my classroom, they’re greeted by a loving memorial to Jefferson Davis, a man who premised his entire sniveling life on the idea that owning other human beings is right and good.

Unfortunately, most people don’t understand how much work it is, and how expensive it is, to commission, design, build, and erect a statue honoring our most treasonous forefathers. Let me walk you through what I have to go through every summer break.

First, I make space in my classroom. The size of your monument typically signals how much you love your students. I’m a big fan of my fifth graders, so this August I’ll have to clear out the blackboard, the smartboard, three desks, and the hamster cage (sorry Nimo) to make room. That will give me about a seven-foot radius for my homage to General Braxton Bragg, a traitor that’s regarded as one of the most incompetent military leaders in history, but still has America’s largest military fort named after him.

Then I commission a sympathetic sculptor. I say sympathetic because you’d be surprised how many of today’s most talented artists don’t feel comfortable hand-molding a testament to the Confederate States of America, a nation that couldn’t manage to last as long as my most recent set of dry erase markers (still going strong from 2012, baby!).

I can’t just let the sympathetic sculptor do their thing, though. I need to look over the sketches and approve the armatures. Otherwise I might end up with a horseshoe mustache instead of a handlebar! Or they might accidentally construct something totally impractical, like a playpen for Nimo (he’s in hamster heaven now) or a set of history textbooks.

Finally, before the concrete gets poured, I have to get approval from the principal and a permit for construction from the town. This is actually very easy.

But then there’s the price: A typical small to medium-sized monument can cost over $110,000. (I use this as a teaching tool, of course — that’s $10,000 for every traitorous state!) Where am I supposed to get that kind of money with my meager public school salary? I’ve already sold the computer lab iMacs to fund our “Band of Bigots” water fountain!

If I can’t get you to care about my own cobwebbed bank account, then please, at least think of the children. Without a beautiful, fawning memorial taking up most of our classroom, how do you expect me to teach your kids about great men like Henry Benning, who argued for a “Southern slavocracy” even before the war? At least there’s a fort in Georgia that bears his name, which was built on a plantation, which itself was built on Native American territory.

We owe it to our students to teach them about the past. To do that, I shouldn’t have to reach into my own pocket to pay for something as basic and essential as a 75-foot-tall obelisk dedicated to Zebulon Baird Vance, the actual name of a Confederate Governor, slaver, and avowed racist. The city of Asheville stepped up to pay for the first such obelisk — now my fifth graders need your help with the second.

It’s a lot of money, I know. But unfortunately, there’s simply no other way to teach students history. Besides, what else am I supposed to put next to our classroom memorial to Mussolini?

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Medium humor. Large laughs.

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Laurence Pevsner

Laurence Pevsner

Laurence writes humor, fiction, film reviews, and political commentary (screeds). He works as a speechwriter in New York City.

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