Where I Stand

The other night, I turned on one of the more conservative 24-hour news channels. A well-known commentator stood at a blackboard and drew a picture of the Washington Monument with a piece of white chalk.  While he drew, he spoke disparagingly of the separation of church and state as a “fictional wall that progressives built.”  This bothered me.  A lot.

I stand in front of a real blackboard everyday.  Every now and then, someone is sent in to replace it with a green chalkboard or a white board to be used with dry erase markers.  I send them away.  My blackboard is black, not green.  The slate may be cracked, but it is real slate and I like to think it came from the mountains of Virginia.  I also like to think of the other teachers who have stood on the very same spot, in front of the very same blackboard, since 1911.  The blackboard stays. I’ve worked hard to protect it.

There is a line I stand on everyday. It is the line that separates church and state.  I have and will continue to work hard to protect that, too. My faith is very important to me, but I know that faith is to be kindled in the heart and home… and not called into question in a public schoolroom.

December brings the line of church and state into sharp focus.  As we share December traditions, there is a part of me that would love to teach my children to sing Away in the Manger. There is a part of me that would love to describe the way the straw shone like gold under a silent starry Bethlehem night.   But I know that my children don’t need the Christmas story from me.  My children need the message that my faith holds in common with all major faiths.  It is a message of tolerance, respect, hope, kindness, responsibility, and love. The line I stand on every day is not a “fictional wall that progressives built.”  It is a line that protects the rights of all.  That’s sacred, too.

About Annie Campbell

Annie Campbell is a National Board Certified teacher and loves her work. After a forty year career in the classroom, she continues to support teachers. Annie enjoys cooking for family and friends; she likes to lose herself in a good book; she loves discovering new ideas, restaurants, perfect picnic places, and movies with her husband, Ben.
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8 Responses to Where I Stand

  1. Grandma says:


  2. Libby says:

    Thanks, Annie. I’m glad you still have your blackboard, and I’m glad, too, that you know where and how the line is drawn. (My dad remembers–and regrets the loss of–the days before “under God” was even in the pledge of allegiance!)

  3. Micol says:

    Since “Amen” has been taken, let me offer “Hallelujah!”

  4. Stacey says:

    I am delighted to hear that you practice the separation of church and state with such dignity. Many do not.

    Last year I taught about each of the holidays — equally. I even talked about solstice and how some people don’t celebrate at all. All of my students were Christian. I was Jewish. We learned about all of the December holidays, including Kwanzaa, together through read alouds and discussion. It was meaningful and special, but never encroached on anyone’s rights.

  5. Laura McElligott says:

    Can you have that picked up in the editorials of the RTD? 🙂

  6. Abbie says:

    best post EVER! this should be a “letter to the editor”, Annie.

  7. Joanie says:

    I am so honored to be related to you. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Helen Cassidy says:

    I am behind on my reading and am now just reading this. This is sooo good. Thank you for your understanding and being my child’s teacher 🙂

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