Friday, July 17, 2020

Teachers Fear for Their Lives

You can't really blame us. I saw my doctor the other day, and she told me if she didn't have to come in, she wouldn't. Of course there's not really a substitute for medical care. She does teletherapy too, but you can't give blood over Skype. Not many teachers ask their students to give blood at all, as far as I know.

Of course, this feeling isn't limited to teachers or doctors. Most people I know value their lives. My little dog jumps when he hears loud noises, when he senses danger. He doesn't want to get hurt. Every time I turn on the TV I see Joe Namath telling me to stay safe and buy into privatized Medicare.

I get a lot of email from teachers, rightfully concerned with survival. I'd say that makes them pretty good role models. There's really nothing we want more for our children than that they grow up without being killed. It's our job to set an example even in something so basic and fundamental as that.

Teenagers are at a very stressful time in their lives. They're learning who they are and how they relate to other people. They're figuring out what they're good at and where they fit in. Call me madcap, but it doesn't really seem the best idea to set them up with teachers constantly on the verge of panic attacka.

Now don't tell that to Mayor de Blasio. He wants to open the schools in the worst way, and from everything I've seen, that's exactly the way he's going to do it. I just read an article on Chalkbeat about what school openings would look like. Now I'm a little more critical of Chalkbeat than other publications, because they take money from opponents of public education and give us every nuance of the many sides of Moskowitz. However, they're no different from other publications in that they fail to give you the full picture of what NYC is doing.

I got a message from a teacher telling me the principal wanted to cut 50% of the Regents curriculum for next year. Now don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of the Regents or their crappy exams. Still, I've taught Regents prep courses, and while I hated doing it, I recall pretty clearly my job was to help kids pass the tests. If I'd taught them only half, and they all failed, I'm not at all sure my principal would've been calling me in to tell me what great work I'd been doing.

In a way, that school is lucky. They have enough time to teach half a curriculum, so students must be going in half of the time. Maybe other principals are only offering 40% or less. And for this, Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza are willing to risk the lives of 1.1 million children and their families. Unless they don't want to. Mayor de Blasio, in his infinite wisdom, knows that some parents don't think it's a good idea to bring a deadly virus home to Grandma, so he's giving them the option of keeping children at home.

It would be one thing if there were no other possibility, and the only way to provide education was to send children into the building. The fact is, though, that we can do this remotely, and we can provide 100% of the curriculum. Anyone who thinks socially distanced students wearing masks and unable to approach one another is going to satisfy their social and emotional needs is dumber than a bag of rocks. And anyone who thinks children and teenagers will respect social distancing in a country where the President of the United States essentially denies the existence of the virus is not too bright either.

Many teachers are now placed in the position of being penalized for being healthy. I should've started smoking ten years ago, they're thinking. I should've indulged my fondness for eating fifty hot dogs for breakfast. Why did I waste all those hours in the gym? Now they're fit, and they don't know how to apply for an accommodation.

Catch 22 was a tough situation for the protagonist. He had to drop bombs on people from an airplane, but every time he did that, the people he was bombing would try to shoot him out of the sky. He went to the doctor and said he couldn't fly anymore because he was crazy. The doctor said all he had to do was be crazy to stop flying. But once he came to the doctor and asked not to fly, he couldn't be crazy because he'd shown he valued his life and didn't want to be shot out of the sky. Catch 22 was the best catch there was.

A lot of teachers are now in a catch 22. They're healthy, but they're being penalized for it. They don't want to go into buildings. They've never seen these buildings cleaned and they don't believe the people who never cleaned them before are going to clean them now. They don't believe little children won't cough and sneeze and vomit and lose their masks. They don't believe teenagers will refrain from kissing and talking and getting close to one another. I don't believe it either, to tell you the truth, and I highly doubt the mayor or chancellor do either.

Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza may be indifferent to our survival, but they aren't stupid. 
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