Dear Mr. Huckabee,
We all share in great sorrow and grief from last week’s horrific events in Newtown, CT. I would like to think that it was overwhelming sadness from the loss of life that led you to state on Friday that the reason behind the mass killings of first graders and their educators was we have “systematically removed God” from public schools. I would like to think profound sorrow and shock were the reason for your misguided remarks. Unfortunately, cynicism leads me to believe that you made such statements for political posturing or perhaps to keep up with the conservative radio shock jocks.
Regardless of your motivation, I want to suggest that you visit your local public school before passing such judgment in the future. If you visited a neighborhood elementary school like Sandy Hook, or any public school for that matter, you would see that God’s presence and the teachings of Jesus Christ are well represented by the works of the people in those buildings. Now perhaps His presence isn’t seen in the way you want – there aren’t readings from the Bible (or any other religious texts for that matter) and the Ten Commandments aren’t posted in classrooms (nor are the Pillars of Islam, actually), but His presence and teachings are instead practiced, demonstrated, and felt. You see, Mr. Huckabee, if you visited the schools you quickly denounce for removing your symbols of God, you’d find that His work actually takes places there every day.
For many students, that public school you deride is their only constant; their only refuge; their only normalcy. Like educators across the nation, my elementary school principal husband and his staff work daily with homeless children, hungry children, abused children, broken children. He and his staff feed their bodies, characters, minds, and souls. They do it every day. They do it for little pay and they do it for lousy benefits. They do it despite the disrespect they sometimes feel from parents and the public. They do it in the face of disdain from politicos that claim they’re fleecing taxpayer money and don’t contribute revenue to the economy. They do it even as they’re called “union thugs.” Educators are God’s workers – there’s no other reason to think a person would endure so much to receive so little.
These educators, aided by school support staff and parent/community volunteers, are God-given, Mr. Huckabee. Through them God’s miracles happen every day. Through education, God’s children are provided a shot at a better life. In my state of Texas, 25% of children live in poverty (the statistics in your home state of Arkansas are similar). For some of these children, these educators are the only chance they have of breaking the poverty cycle. In those Godless government schools, they have a chance at a better tomorrow. The school is a place where they can not only explore their life’s dreams, but be provided the tools to achieve those dreams. It is the tireless men and women of the school systems that will give them those tools.
And these educators wear many hats – not only do they educate and lead, they serve as role models, protectors, life coaches, and cheerleaders. They’re in loco parenti. They’re friends and counselors. Unfortunately, some in Connecticut even served as human shields – coming between bullets and six year olds. If serving children and the community in this way isn’t the work of a higher power, I don’t know what is.