Once upon a time, this country waited for Superman to save its schools. Teachers are today’s Superheroes. They face this crisis with strength and determination. The elite can write their blueprints. It’s the teachers who get the job done. The country should be hiring, not firing, its teachers.
The Learning Policy Institute reports grim statistics about teacher firings. A 15 percent reduction in state education funding means more than 300,000 teaching positions would be lost, while a 30 percent loss means approximately 697,675 teachers could lose their jobs.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are accusing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of handing public funding meant for public schools, over to private and parochial schools. We know that DeVos is not on the side of teachers. She has also been using money to fund charter schools, which are often unaccountable to the public. DeVos is failing to support the schools and the teachers who are serving students at this serious time. The states and the local school districts depend on financial support from the federal government to survive. If these schools go under, if teachers across the country lose their jobs, we will, in part, have DeVos to blame.
How should schools safely reopen? Will it be safe for children to return to classes? How will the CDC rules affect how children learn? What repercussions will such rules have on the youngest learners who don’t understand physical distancing.
Schools may reopen, or offer remote learning, but teachers are the one constant. Teachers are needed to help children learn during this uncertainty. They are the calm in the storm, the face of familiarity.
How can teachers lose their jobs at a time when their service is critical for the country, for students and families who rely on them for instruction and moral support?
- Teachers. More teachers are required to reduce class size in school, or virtually. Students need qualified teachers who will provide them with a face-to-face connection to their school. Students will later remember their teacher as having supported them during this difficult time.
- Technology. Teachers from the student’s community will not only instruct online but address the issues that involve the student where they live. They will help students deal with what they see on the local news, even the weather.
- Recruit Teachers. Bring veteran teachers back to work from home, or in schools if they’re willing and able. Teachers are necessary not only to teach, but to maintain calm, to support families, and to put a face of familiarity on impersonal screens.
- Parental Support. Teachers provide parental support, to keep children from falling behind, and to help navigate an instructional, behavioral, and emotional plan.
- Support Staff. Counselors are critical during this time, preferably a counselor from the student’s school who students know. Librarians are teachers and can provide students with online assistance in reading, information, and technology.
- Other Staff. If schools don’t reopen right away, other support staff should get the help and financial support they need. Later they can be rehired.
- Alternative Teachers. Don’t fire teachers and bring in corps of alternative teachers who have few qualifications. Do not replace teachers with tutors. Real teachers with strong backgrounds in their chosen fields are what’s needed.
- Funding. Aren’t school districts saving some money on utilities and transportation while schools are closed? Here are other ways to save money.
- Universities. Student teachers are almost finished with their teaching degrees and might begin teaching early, with the proper support.
- Cyber Schools. School districts should not fire qualified teachers, then turn around and fund substandard cyber schools known to fail. A school district will be doing a disservice to students by signing on to impersonal virtual programs.
- Class Size. Class sizes should not increase. Children cannot learn effectively in huge classes, in person or online.
- School Buildings. This virus has shown us that parents want teachers and public schools. Schools are the hub of the community. It would be nice if corporations would work with education officials to find better buildings, shore up and renovate old school facilities, and build new schools that reflect student needs. Ask teachers and principals how to fill in the funding gaps.
- School Reform. Students and families need stability, not more piled on disruption.
- Understanding. Don’t unfairly criticize teachers. Trust them to be professional, to make the best of a difficult situation.
- Disabilities. Students with disabilities need support from their teachers so they will not regress.
Teachers are the essential worker for instruction to occur. During this crisis, teachers provide stability, a sense of normalcy, and hope for students. Teachers are Superheros! Hire more! Fire none! Support them during this difficult, challenging time.