As fall approaches, parents, teachers, administrators, and politicians are pondering how to reopen schools. It it is clear the global pandemic has presented inherent risks never contemplated by these decision makers. To make the situation worse, national leadership has chosen to reject the advice proffered by our scientific community and this has lead to an epidemiological disaster of biblical proportions, one that can be made worse by wholesale reopening of our schools.
Long before the Covid-19 pandemic, the education system has been burdened with over-crowding and lack of resources. This has produced mini-epidemics of influenza and other communicable diseases. What happens to the children also happens to the educational professionals that serve valiantly and often without gratitude. The narrative, as now seen in public media, does not include the risks faced by our educators.
To be clear, the nation has not recognized the economic role that public education plays in our society. It is not simply a system where future citizen employees are trained. At the most fundamental level, public schools have been a daycare system that allows both parents to go to work and not worry about their children, thus allowing a two income economy. This pandemic has starkly brought in to focus the essential roles that educators play in our society.
When teachers and other educational professionals advocate for themselves they are derided as unprofessional and at the worst greedy. It is time for employers to step up and become a voice in defense our educators, if only for needs of their own businesses. School boards and administrators should join in as well.
Finally, it is time for the National Education Association and other education organizations to organize a national teacher strike. It is only when parents must stay home to care for their children that our nation will recognize the value that educators play in their individual lives and businesses and will then laud these unsung heroes.