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Truth-telling

New York Teacher

What will be the legacy of Donald Trump now that he will be an ex-president? Since he was elected, he has drawn more attention than merited; he was very good at sowing doubt while feeding into and creating division. Will these activities outlast him? 

There were times when information was primarily delivered to the public through newspapers, radio and television, all of which had the capacity and responsibility to check the veracity of any assertion. Today we have a variety of social media companies that present themselves as neutral sites; they exercise little control or responsibility over content. People can articulate any position they choose with little oversight. As a result, misinformation and conspiracy theories flourish. President Trump uses social media to create uncertainty in some people (and certainty in others) and as a consequence our capacity to tell the true from the false has been obscured. 

An educated public is the ultimate check on government abuse and, as such, teachers have become essential workers in our very fragile democracy. Our schools must emphasize critical thinking skills where evidence is used to support assertions. 

Perhaps the inadvertent legacy of the Trump years will be in making us all aware of the need for a highly educated citizenry. 

Larry Hoffner, retired

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