NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE A STAND!!!
For years, teachers have been treated as less than, as folks who just babysit so people can go to their “real” jobs. You know, the jobs they couldn’t have without going through somebody’s classroom for however long they stayed in school.
As coronavirus has swept this nation, it has become more and more obvious that schools, and effectively teachers, are the backbone of the nation’s economy. Yet, the President threatens to reduce or eliminate federal funding if schools don’t fully open in the fall, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos can’t offer up any concrete plan for how schools can open safely. Governors and other state officials talk about how much they trust teachers to make the right decisions, and yet, teachers aren’t even the ones who get to make the actual decisions in the school. Yes, trust me to do my job as a teacher, and make those in administration and leadership do their jobs properly as well, meaning properly planning for the safety and well-being of us all and properly allocating the funds that ARE distributed to the schools for what they are actually intended. Teachers DESERVE a seat at the table when it comes to planning for the safe reopening of America’s schools.
Thankfully, several districts in my area and surrounding areas are choosing to go back to school virtually for the first few weeks of the new year. This will, hopefully, allow for a decrease in cases in our county and state, and for more thorough planning for how to safely and carefully bring students and staff back to campus. However, if your school or district are doing this, don’t sit around and be silent, hoping that your principal, superintendent, or other leadership has your best interest at heart. Now, more than ever, teachers must have a say so and take a stand on what is important to us. I know that we are used to being the sacrificial lambs, providing for our students no matter what they need or no matter who stands in our way, but where has that gotten us? We are already overworked and sorely underpaid. Use your voice. Talk to your grade level chair, email your principal, virtually attend board meetings, and make sure that someone knows how you feel about returning to school. Even if you believe it’s 100% safe to go back to school now, let that be known too! At the end of the day, we’re all entitled to our opinions and the right to have that opinion heard when it comes to something this serious. Be able to back up your thoughts, be ready to defend them, but definitely, make your voice heard.
Now is not the time to be complacent when people LITERALLY want to sacrifice the lives of teachers to jump start the economy. See, the United States economy can’t go back to “business as usual” if teachers refuse to go back in the classrooms. I’m not saying abandon your job at all, but what I am saying is speak up and make your voice heard about what you need to feel comfortable being back in the school building. The same way that the government found money to bail out big businesses and corporations, is the same way they should have found money to protect worker’s paychecks, improve internet services and infrastructure, and truly shutting the nation down so that we could get this virus under control. Since they didn’t do that, NOW IS THE TIME to course correct, and if the economy is dependent on teachers being in the building so that others can go to work, then hear what teachers are saying and treat us like the experts that we are. It also wouldn’t hurt if you’d PAY TEACHERS LIKE THE PROFESSIONALS WE ARE.
Our classrooms are not drop-off, babysitting services for everyone else to return to business as usual. No longer can we stand by and be used as social workers, nurses, “in loco parentis”, case managers, and all the other roles we play on a daily basis, without having a say in how we are being treated and what is expected of us. Teachers have been silent for far too long. Now is the time to take a stand!