By Claudia F Giordano
Anyone who has walked into, or simply stood out inside of a school building as students arrive for school in the morning or leave school at dismissal can see that the number of human bodies, children and adult, is overwhelming. It’s an enormous task on the best of days to maintain order and circumvent chaos. One false move and, yup, kids are freaking out. Perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration, like how most schools, and teachers, are represented in much of our popular culture, for entertainment value. Cute, funny, maybe, and reflective of our attitudes that teachers are, basically, nerds, losers, clowns, buffoons, or rigid task masters with militaristic tendencies, or worse, latent child molesters or underdeveloped sexual miscreants. Anything for a laugh or drama.
The arrival of a virus one can neither see, smell, taste, or otherwise detect, has changed all that hilarity.
Unlike Santa or the tooth fairy, we cannot at will decide on whether or not to “believe” in COVID-19, unless the hundreds of thousands of verified cases – and deaths- are simply figments of someone’s imagination. No matter where you stand politically, religiously, or in any other -ly, COVID is real. And nobody should want to be responsible for its spread and the threat to human life on this planet.
As Greta Thunberg who has continued her “School Strike for Climate” every single Friday, without fail, for two years now,demonstrating that as research has proven, the human mind needs about one hundred iterations of the same thing to learn that thing- hence “practice makes perfect” (which flies in the face of the dismissal of “rote learning”), humans need to hear the same thing over and over again before WE. FINALLY. GET. IT.
So allow me to repeat myself, and please, join me in this refrain:
“Remote Only 4 Now” (repeat as needed)
Let’s break it down into some easy to digest bullet points (feel free to use in a power point in a zoom if you are so inclined…)
– Keep all public schools closed. Divert funds for custodial staff cleaning, disinfecting, and PPE to repair and update aging school buildings in anticipation of reopening in January 2021
– Wire all schools with high speed internet and WiFi and bring all technology up to date
– Use the vacant schools to provide meals and other services to the local community
– Provide for the children of essential workers and make them a priority for meals, tutoring, access to technology, and mental health services as well as testing and other medical interventions
– Provide teachers with proven, viable, and accessible programs, curricula, and internet applications that will take the burden of reinventing the wheel every other day off their shoulders. Make all those overpaid “central office” pencil pushers DO THE WORK and allow teachers the time to virtually teach, interact with, and guide their students, one to one, as best they can under extraordinary and challenging circumstances not under their control
– Stop scapegoating the teaching profession for the failures of society. Just stop already. It serves no purpose at all, and will not educate or otherwise develop your children into useful human beings. Stop blaming those on the frontlines when they can no longer sustain your ridiculous expectations. Yes I mean you, Governors, Mayors, Chancellors, Secretaries and Departments and Boards of Education, and peevish parents who don’t like being inconvenienced. Please.
UFT Solidarity Caucus