Saturday, November 28, 2020

I'm Thankful, and We're Lucky

COVID is a plague, and it strikes at the whole world. People are sick, People are dying. The national government is even more inept than the city government, and that's saying something. 

It's hard to conceive of a national government that would ignore a plague because they originally saw it affecting only blue states, but given their incredible mendacity, it's easy to believe. Nonetheless, they plodded on with no national program even as it moved to red states, so even if it isn't willful cruelty, it's absolute ineptitude.

NY suffered from COVID. I know people who've died from it. I know people who've lost parents from it, and who may spend the rest of their lives wondering whether or not they brought it into their parents' homes. All over the country, there are millions of Americans left jobless by the pandemic. Idiot Trump looks at the stock market and ignores suffering Americans, many of whom vote for him anyway.   They wear those red caps and hope he'll move us back to the good old white supremacist days, or something. 

Hey, online learning sucks. I've been doing it since March and I don't love it. I don't love not really getting to know my students. I don't love missing interaction with my colleagues. I don't love not doing what I'm born to do. For my money, masked and socially distanced live classes are even worse, horrifying to contemplate and take part in. If I can't walk around and interact with students I may as well be online.

Until we get a vaccine, online learning is the best option we have. We're lucky to have it. Where would we be if we didn't have this technology? What would we be doing right now? Would we be having outdoor classes as temperatures approach the 30s? Writing compositions with our mittens on? I don't know. Given the outrageous lack of direction on the part of the chancellor and mayor, I can't imagine we'd have carried that off. 

Thanksgiving has passed, but I'm grateful to still have a job right now. I know many of my fellow Americans are not so fortunate. It may not sound like much, but it's a lot. For all that I complain about, I'm grateful to be here. Many of my complaints seem irrelevant when I look at businesses that can't stay open. Of course that too is largely the fault of Trump and his GOP thugs controlling the Senate. A whole lot of other countries managed to aid citizens in trouble, and we could've done the same. This, they label "socialism." In the United States, we give tax breaks to those who least need them but turn our faces from those truly in need. 

I'm grateful to have collective bargaining, something our brothers and sisters in red states haven't gotten yet. In those states, teachers have started running for office, and while they're off to a slow start, there's hope. I'm grateful to have tenure, so some crazy administrator can't fire me just for being a pain in the ass. I'm grateful for the ability to be a pain in the ass, and I'm grateful I can freely represent the interests of UFT members. I'm grateful my colleagues have trusted me with that privilege.

It seems like a low bar to just have a job, and at times it is. If I were in trouble for no good reason, and a rep told me, "Well, at least you still have your job," I'd be angry. I'd think it was that rep's job to help me out of trouble, which of course it would be. But no rep, no DR, no union president is going to pull us out of COVID.

I'm hopeful, that with a vaccine on the horizon, I'll get to teach my students, all of them, face to face by April or May. I know that's asking a lot. But I'll be first in line for that vaccine, or as far ahead of it as I can get. (Now if you should see me with an extra arm growing out of my head, don't follow in my footsteps.)

But inept, incompetent, juvenile racist and xenophobe-in-chief is on his way out. Joe Biden was not my first choice for President, but I have a whole lot more faith in him than I ever did in Trump. Hopefully we can crawl out from under this pandemic, and hopefully we can raise up the Americans who were ignored by Trump and the sub-human slime in the GOP Senate.

Meanwhile, I'm grateful to be a teacher, I'm grateful to be in NY State, and I'm grateful to be union in a place and time where that really means something. Of course we should and will work to improve things, but we are luckier than many. That's something to be very grateful for.

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