Listen to the news one moment, and you’re warned about the new variants of the virus. There’s uncertainty about it and whether it’s more deadly than the current strain. Next, the media gives voice to critics who belittle teachers and their unions for not returning to school or being afraid.
There’s a dislike of teachers and disrespect in school districts across the country. When three Cobb County school employees died of Covid, the Superintendent and a school board member wouldn’t put on a mask when asked to honor one of the deceased victims who was a teacher.
Can’t everyone hang on until teachers and all school staff are safely vaccinated? Teachers have been working diligently with students remotely and in-person since the start of the pandemic. They deserve better.
The Washington Post
Here’s an opinion piece. Teachers are vital public servants. Time for them to start acting like it. This title sounds like teachers are throwing a tantrum! The author expresses a dislike for online learning.
He understands teachers are worried about being in the classroom, but since they bargain for better pay, tenure, and a decent pension, that means to him that they’re essential workers and should be on the frontlines no matter the danger.
The network does former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s bidding by lavishing attention on a private school that has in-person learning during the pandemic and compares it to a public school district.
The private school has a new $300,000 ventilation system, small classes, and gigantic plexiglass barriers. These teachers don’t have union representation and could still catch Covid-19!
Private schools are also doing virtual learning. Private school teachers are also scared and prematurely retiring.
The New York Times
The New York Times published a sad story about how, due to an increase in youth suicides in Las Vegas, teachers need to return to in-person school.
As far as Covid-19 and school closures go, there’s some confusion. A title by Nevada Current last November states Suicides among youth, adults not up during the pandemic.
In a USA Today piece Las Vegas plans to reopen schools as suicide fears grow they say Las Vegas schools are planning to reopen within weeks as anger and concerns grow over US student mental health and a possible surge in suicides since they closed due to Covid-19 last March.
Former President Donald Trump repeatedly tried to pressure schools into reopening, while Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ex-director Robert Redfield cited “increases of adolescent suicide” among the costs of children missing school at a briefing last July.
A report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2019. The suicide rate among Nevada children and teenagers nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018, according to the state’s Office of Suicide Prevention.
This is a serious concern. Nevada and likely Las Vegas appear to have a suicide problem, but is it clear that it is connected to Covid-19 and in-person school?
Check out this title: Your kid might not return to a classroom this year. Are teachers’ unions to blame?
This report does present both sides. But that title…it’s an invitation to get parents upset.
Here’s a parent quote:
Of course, we all feel for the teachers, and we appreciate the work they’re doing, but it feels like the union is looking out for themselves, which is their job, but it’s at the expense of many kids and families.
They’re looking out for your children too, and you. If your child catches the virus, they will bring it home.
The virus is the culprit. Teachers didn’t cause it.
School Districts and Tennessee
The Chicago mayor and school leaders want teachers back in the classroom. Instead of listening to teachers’ fears, they locked them out of their virtual platforms. They replaced them with substitutes who still taught remotely.
Chicago teachers have done a good job working with students online. Many parents recognize that and support them. Why must they prove themselves during this dangerous time by protesting to stay safe, especially when vaccinations are right around the corner?
Chicago Public School principals put together this realistic list of problems schools face.
Teachers were worried about in-person classes in Denver, concerned that there wasn’t enough staff and that there wasn’t much of a plan for returning. School leaders were left to decide, and their public health directors said it’s fine to open.
Now it’s reported there are positive cases and staff quarantines.
In Beaufort, Colorado they seem to have trouble reporting cases exactly. See: Beaufort Co. schools report 1,600+ quarantines, remove COVID case totals from website.
In October, Fairfax County, Virginia, teachers, and staff were given 48 hours to decide if they were willing to return to in-person classes, apply for disability, or quit.
In Tennessee, the Gov. is pushing in-person schooling disregarding teacher concerns. He says he’s following the science, but now we learn that Gov. Bill Lee and the Tennessee Education Commissioner used old data about students falling behind.
He’s also pushing for a scripted reading program and tutoring corps.
In Bellevue, Washington, 1300 teachers voted to wait for schools to open until they received the vaccines, but the Bellevue superintendent deems it safe.
These are samples of the ways teachers are being scapegoated to return to in-person schooling, even though most will soon get their vaccines. The more teachers we lose due to premature retirement, or sadly Covid-19, the greater the chance parents will wind up relying on online learning in the future.
Bai, M. (2021, January 25). Teachers are vital public servants. Time for them to start acting like it. The Washington Post.
Green, E.L. (2021, January 24). Surge of Student Suicides Pushes Las Vegas Schools to Reopen. The New York Times.
Look into HEALS ACT- all about dollars to states and districts -no access to dollars unless in person schooling
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks. I will!
Susan norwood says
If we are essential, why aren’t we paid like it? If the kids and the economy need us so desperately then pay us! Yes, we care about kids, but we have bills to pay and would like to live comfortably on one salary as other professionals do. In Tennessee, Gov. Lee’s proposed pay raise would amount to about $50 a month. And we’re supposed to risk our lives for this when we are able to teach from home?!
Nancy Bailey says
That’s a great point. Thanks, Susan.
I want the vaccine yesterday.
I just want to continue to live. I am high risk and my husband is even higher risk. We have 3 children. If we die they will have no one. It’s not fair to expect a teacher or anyone else to choose their job over their life. We cannot “ just quit” we need health insurance and a salary or we become homeless. Students and parents have the option to stay home or go in to schools, school committee is zooming, there are no administrators to be found and even the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are CLOSED yes, working remotely. I would never encourage anyone to be a teacher. I am out as soon as I find a way.
Nancy Bailey says
The hypocrisy is stunning. I agree.
L H Partridge says
The most interesting part of David Brooks’ column in the New York Times yesterday was the overwhelming response of the commentators, over 1,600 of them, in support of the teachers. The sheer number of the media pieces focusing on getting teachers back in front of students smacks of propaganda. At least this time “Just shut up and teach” was met with “not until teachers are fully vaccinated, and why aren’t they first?” https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/28/opinion/coronavirus-schools-unions.html
Nancy Bailey says
I think you’re right. The media shows those parents angry about schools not opening, when the reality is many parents are worried about their children getting sick.
I don’t recall Brooks ever being on the side of teachers and public schools, so his article didn’t surprise me, but it was unkind for sure.
This virus. What a mess!
Paul Bonner says
What this really highlights is the challenges that exist in school infrastructure prior to covid. The unequal conditions with buildings along with the lack of resources for teachers in individual schools compound the challenges of getting children back into school Too many policy makers, media organizations, and corporations trying to make a dollar off of the schools ignore the degree of negligence that exists before we begin to even address pandemic concerns. As said in the Right Stuff, “No bucks, no Buck Rodgers”….
Nancy Bailey says
Keep seeing children getting Covid-19. Schools are all different, but the ventilation is the worst in some public schools. It used to be a worry before Covid-19.
Thanks, Paul. Great points.
shannon s colclough says
Wow, it saddens me that the economy thinks we are babysitters. In other countries like India and China Teachers are seen as Gods and they pay them a lot of RESPECT! yes children learn when they’re in school. But parents often forget that they’re the child’s first teacher.