Arthur Camins salutes teachers as the front line warriors in the battle to restore truth, facts, and evidence against the onslaught of the Trump war on reality.

Yes, Virginia, there is objective reality in the world. No, Virginia, there are no alternative facts. 2+2 really is 4. It is 4, today, tomorrow, and into the future.

We count on teachers to teach students to care about reality and evidence.

Politicians and their corporate sponsors who unabashedly lie with impunity are ubiquitous. Citizens who believe or cynically dismiss the lies are alarmingly common.  As a result, truth telling is now the essential citizen attitude and ability without which democracy, justice, and any semblance of equity are doomed. The nation desperately needs teachers to be leaders in a truth offensive.

Every day in every classroom, students offer explanations and claims. Some are true, while some are not. Teachers’ critical follow-up response is, “How do you know that?” That applies whether it’s a mathematics solution, an analysis of a historical event, a scientific explanation about how the natural world works, or an interpretation of a piece of literature. The essential expectation is that students’ reply to, “How do you know that?” should feature relevant and sufficient evidence.  Most important is helping students develop the disposition that truth matters.

“I just know it,” “It’s what I think,” “It’s my opinion?” “It’s what I read somewhere,” “You/He/She/They told me,” and “I saw it on Facebook, TV News, etc.” are all insufficient.  Students can and should develop the habit of mind to search for reliable data, learn how to interpret that data to establish evidence to justify, reject, and revise conclusions. They need to develop the inclination and skills to do so across multiple disciplines. Unless that happens, we cannot hope to reverse the alarming dismissal of evidence in the public arena.  This is job one for every teacher.

More than ever, citizens must be armed with the tools to combat lies, propaganda, fake news, and hoaxes.