I was so disappointed today to hear that, while teachers won the very important case of the Florida Education Association against the Governor and Commissioner of Education of Florida, granting an injunction against an order requiring all counties in the state to open brick and mortar schools no matter what their numbers were and what their local health officials said, and while this case will set precedent (assuming no appeal overturns it), reporters were laughing at it this morning on the radio. Laughing that it was too little, too late, sarcastically saying, “Good for you, Teachers, but what good does that do now? School already started. What are you going to do, not come back? HAHAHA!” Really, Florida? Is that supposed to be funny? It’s inhumane how many teachers were forced to risk their lives or lose their livelihood, despite having risk factors that put them in categories where they SHOULD have been given an online option. These are TEACHERS. Without education, every other career ceases to exist. They are professionals. They are not caged animals!
Actually, I think refusing to go back in until there is a safe plan is EXACTLY what they should do. Parents may not like it, but they are also poorly informed (intentionally, by their government) and would NOT be any happier burying their kids, or leaving them orphaned if THEY get sick as a result of the child bringing the virus home, and killing a single mother.
One thing I keep hearing is everyone saying, “If teachers don’t want to go to work [in person], and everything can be done online, because ‘schools aren’t daycares,'” the common rallying cry, continuing with: “Why do we even need teachers, then?” Here are my thoughts on that.
It has been made apparent during the HOURS and HOURS of meetings by school boards, medical advisory committees, and union meetings, that without these professionals, society would crumble. Specifically, the following parts of society would fall apart:
- Food: Without teachers, children all over the United States would go without proper nutrition. It is true that some students are having their first meal since March in schools that have opened back up.
- Shelter: Without teachers and schools, some kids don’t have a safe place to exist. Ever. They live in cars, on the street, on the couches of friends, with family members, in foster care and anywhere else they can. The only stable place for some of these kids is… school.
- Child care. Without teachers, parents would have to find someone else to be available to help younger children with everything from a runny nose, to a fight with a friend, to a potty accident, to tying his or her shoes. This includes hugs, kissing boo boos, and just making them feel better when they are young, and sometimes, even when they are teens. Some have never had this, and they attach to teachers like they are their moms or dads. If you have any doubt about this, ask any parent how many times their child called them by their teacher’s name, and ask any teacher how many times they’ve been called, “Mom.”
- Custodians. It is important that, even if the kids live in filth, when they go to school, their rooms shall be sanitary, so as not to spread the virus. They should supervise going to the bathroom, without violating any other policies, like watching kids in the bathroom. They are to clean and disinfect between classes, but may not accept air purifiers or cleaning products donated by parents, and may only use things like the gallon of sanitizer some teachers received with no pump. They announced they would no longer be providing Lysol wipes to some school nurse offices. How do they keep it clean for your student, as promised by the state? Your guess is as good as mine, and as good as the teacher’s. But it’s his or her problem.
- Transportation. Remember that part of teachers being able to educate our children includes getting them to school. Many, many parents rely on public school buses. Like custodians, these people will spend HOURS each day with many children going in and out of their doors, including some who will show up without a mask for a variety of reasons, and some who will take off and throw away the one given to him/her by a bus driver. But it’s easier to risk their lives than for parents to take their kids to school, right? Businesses won’t accomodate that for employees who are parents. Why not? Why isn’t that the standard?
- Medical care. Without teachers, some children would never get necessary medical care, as the only medical professional they ever see is the school nurse. This is the only way many children have a chance of anyone even knowing they need medical care, and sometimes, forces the families to obtain it when they wouldn’t otherwise, because their kids can’t return to school without a doctor’s note. Further, some don’t have insurance and can’t see a doctor absent an emergency room that is required to take them, so the clinic is a luxury they do not have outside of school hours.
- Social Workers. It has been argued that domestic violence and other abuse, neglect, or abandonment will flourish if schools don’t open. The theory is that school is the only chance for teachers to spot families or students in need of assistance through social services. If you didn’t hear about it, one article told of a student who began the year logging onto virtual learning, only to have her teacher mute her because of the shouting in the background, and then watch the student cover her ears as a shot rang out, killing her mother, before killing the video feed as the bullet destroyed the school computer screen. I would argue that there is a better chance of families hiding issues when they ship their kid to school, than if there is a microphone and camera on in the home. Privacy issues also concern me, but it is definitely worth noting that teachers are mandatory reporters of abuse, abandonment or neglect, which puts them in the additional roles of “social workers” and “first responders” as part of their daily responsibilities.
- Socialization. This has been the primary reason people have cited for returning kids to school, almost at any cost. Kids need socialization. Their mental health is struggling. Some are becoming suicidal. The answer to this appears to be socialization. At school. This is where they will receive the necessary “socializing” and care from friends and teachers that they need to live. Except we are in a pandemic and they are not allowed to hug, get close enough to whisper, or do many of the things they want to return to school to do. Psychologists have written that if people think staying home a few more months and doing virtual will cause psychological trauma, hang on tight as we open the schools so you can see what a child will experience when a friend or a teacher dies, especially if they feel in any way responsible for it. Now imagine they lose multiple young friends and/or teachers in the space of a year. Ask some of the survivors of the school shootings how quickly they recover from that psychological trauma, and if it’s better than the trauma of being home a few more weeks!
So to all of the people who think teachers are NOT underpaid, undervalued, underappreciated, and under a ridiculous and unfair amount of stress and responsibility for little compensation, who are asking why we even need teachers if they aren’t going to provide child care, food, medical care, social services, and loving to our children… obviously we need teachers! So if you are a parent and are not supporting teachers, these heroes who stand in our place as pseudo-parents for more time than many of us spend with them during each week, my question to you is…
WHY DO WE NEED PARENTS?!