As the summer continues, the question of school becomes more and more stressful. It is impossible to know what the school year will bring. But what is even more impossible is thinking about how much criticism I will face this year. For those of us who are both parents and teachers, the Internet has become a hostile place.
We are stuck between the desire to see our students (we miss them), the knowledge that in-person learning is the most effective way to teach (we know remote learning has been a huge struggle), and that our own children are not safe in rooms filled with other children who will inevitably remove their masks to sneeze, blow their noses, eat lunch, and run around at recess.
Regardless of how much the school districts say they have a system, we teacher-parents watch the statistics of schools in other countries, the diagnoses of professional sports teams, and our states' rising increases in cases. We are devastated by the lack of funding and organization in our local school systems. And, of course, since we are teachers in an underfunded system, there is no way that we have the luxury and privilege to send our children to a private or charter school that might have more of a handle on the virus in their smaller school building. Nor do we have the luxury of staying home or taking a sabbatical, as our bills also arrive with relentless regularity.
Every time we log on to the Internet to get news updates, there’s another slew of cruelty about how teachers are lazy, pitiful or shirking their job responsibilities that are “essential” to our economy. The world seems to have forgotten that we put our health at risk during every flu season, and our lives on the line during every school shooting. We are child care, child-protection services, child nurses, and child therapists. We are essential to your lifestyle and way of life — but we are also essential to our own families and our own children. When is it enough?
Lauren Kott has been a high school English teacher in Jefferson County Public Schools for fifteen years; Jeffco's new school year begins August 24.
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