Friday, August 07, 2020

Not As I Do

It's remarkable to turn on the TV and see people broadcasting from their home computers. More remarkable still is when they speak from isolation demanding we open school buildings. Though it's too risky for them to get off their butts and go to a TV station, though it's too dangerous for the interviewers to be in the same room with these authorities on education, it's okay for over a million kids to visit NYC school buildings. 

 In fact, in New York City, indoor dining is considered too dangerous, so New Yorkers may only eat outside of restaurants. The city, in fact, started a program to enable and expand this. They don't seem to have bothered preparing this much for school next year. We've got an outlandish program that proposes two teachers for every class, one online and one in person. Guess what? The city doesn't have enough teachers to accomplish that. 

We get hopeful letters from the chancellor, saying they care about our health and that of the students. This notwithstanding, it's simply inevitable that there will be new cases of Covid. And while we may have contained it for a while by being extremely careful, this particular experiment will move us precisely in the opposite direction. Eleven Kansas educators just went to a Branson educational retreat, and six came back infected. I'm pretty sure hotels in Branson are cleaner than NYC schools. 

Elsewhere, there are other disturbing developments. While it's comforting to entertain nonsense about how young people are at such low risk, a 7-year-old boy in Georgia with no complicating health issues just died of the virus. Does Mayor de Blasio or Governor Cuomo think that New Yorkers are somehow tougher, and therefore immune? What are they going to say after the first New York kid dies? It's the price of doing business?

I'm bone weary of hearing people say it's all about the kids, while ignoring not only the kids who get sick and die, but more pointedly, their teachers. If you think over a million kids are going to universally observe social distancing, I have a bridge to sell you. And while you're out blathering about the lazy teachers who don't want to do anything, Melissa Martinez, a San Antonio kindergarten teacher, has just died of Covid

So go ahead, talking head. Sit in your living room, broadcast from your laptop, and tell me and hundreds of thousands of my UFT brothers and sisters why we have to go into filthy, decrepit, neglected buildings. Tell us why we should trust Mayor Bill de Blasio to monitor infected schools when he plainly failed to do so last March. Tell us why he'll close schools as per his promise when he simply placed them in a bureaucratic purgatory last year. 

Tell us, Governor Cuomo, from your socially distanced, sparsely attended press conference, why young children and teenagers will obediently observe the conditions just as the governor of New York does. Go ahead, Atlantic editor, and find health care workers to ridicule vilify us, and make believe that we'll have PPE just like they have in hospitals. Pretend that unions didn't have to go to ridiculous lengths to secure PPE for hospital staff. Pretend schools are cleaned as hospitals are. 

While politicians and TV talking heads do their work from the comfort and safety of highly controlled environments, let's play pretend and hope for the best regarding New York City's 1.1 million students and 80,000 teachers, not to mention administrators, office staff and custodians. After all, we all know, "Children First" really means all the adults can drop dead.

And when that begins to really happen, what are you going to say, Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, and Chancellor Carranza? It's unfortunate? We had no way of knowing? We'll do better next time? History suggests otherwise.

I know what I'll say. I'll say you've yet to clean the blood on your hands from March, and now there's more.

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