Teachers are the backbone of our education system. We have asked them time and again to suck it up while steadily stripping funding and resources away.

We claim time and time again to care about educators while providing them with declining, overcrowded facilities. Teachers often are disrespected, poked and prodded with statements like, "Those who can’t do, teach." Teachers are often challenged with providing material to underserved communities from their own pockets and have resorted to using sites like GoFundMe to make up resource gaps.

Teachers do this because they are fulfilling one of the noblest callings and they care deeply about our kids and our society’s future. We entrust them with some of our most vulnerable, and charge them with developing the next set of minds that will care for us and guide us when we are no longer capable and carry on the work of strengthening democracy.

Teachers do all of this, while being attacked from all sides in an environment repeatedly showing them that all of the kudos we provide are simply lip service. This was prior to the pandemic.

One of the things that the pandemic should have taught us is that teachers deserve more and not less. We should not be pushing them back into an environment that risks their lives to do the job that none of us is qualified or feels the calling for. I can imagine that the teachers union is probably the only entity that has the best interests of the teachers and teaching staff in mind and we really need to trust that they are doing just that.

Rather than demonize the teachers union, we should be listening to what they have to say and making sure that we are able to keep everyone safe before we rush headfirst into the failure of sending children back before staff is vaccinated. If you are demonizing a union whose primary job is ensuring that its members are safe in the place where they work, you should really closely examine why you don’t care about education.

I think if you were really honest about why you would criticize the teachers union, you would admit that if you are envious and wish you had someone working that hard to keep you safe at your job. We should all hope to have an organization who cares about us and our safety in our place of employment.

(26) comments

petersamuel

Hayduke2: No school "has to" close down. Officials and administrators decide and give orders to close down. We're discussing whether such decisions are wise. Public health experts say it's unwise because experience, studies and commonsense show that schools can be operated at least as safely, if not more safely, than staff and students being shut out of their schools.

NewMarketParent

@petersamuel

What commonsense? You have to take extraordinary measures to make sure people stay safe in schools. None of those is commonsense. Not to mention that you are explicitly counting on children being able to follow the rules all the time. If we had a zero-percent suspension/expulsion rate, then you could make a case, but we don't.

hazel

NMP, I generally agree with you close to 100%. What I don’t understand is why so many commenters mention Chicago, New York City, LA and North Carolina. It seems that many think North Carolina is the cat’s meow . How about we talk about Frederick County instead of referring to “everywhere else”. I’m definitely for Unions and the health and well-being of our teachers.

One writer mentions USPS as being an COVID issue at our homes. Guess what, no USPS worker actually comes into my home.

hazel

Are you a school teacher? You certainly don’t seem to really care about our students or our teachers.

Hayduke2

Poor argument! No one “has to” do anything but based on logic, local parameters and trends, decisions that put everyone’s safety in the forefront should guide the decisions.

petersamuel

NMP, you wrote: " I would think that the risk of congregation is higher than the risk of not congregating." But kids and teachers kept out of school DO "congregate." They goo to the store etc. They have visitors. They have family and friends who go out and mix. They have service people, like USPS people come by. They try to minimize their risk. But youj can do all that while AT school too. That is why schools have proven to be as safe if not safer than being out of school. It's why the CDC and most epidemiologists urge that schools be open. Because it is less risky.

NewMarketParent

@petersamuel

None of those activities is a sanctions, state-sponsored activity. We cannot tightly regulate private actions. We do, however, have control of schools as they are funded by the states. You are comparing apples and Eskimos.

Blueline

I think most people respect the job teachers do, but the unions are another story. Look at areas where they are in complete control (i.e Chicago, NYC, LA). They control politicians, have incessant demands for more money to create large bureaucracies with layers of administrative positions, and hold the students hostage to get their demands met. The result - the kids in these areas are dumber than ever. It's not the teachers' fault, but the education system is broken - no accountability for anyone.

NewMarketParent

@Blueline

That is simply not true. Unions fight for safe working conditions for their membership. They fight for fairness, equity and apoliticality in decisions to attempt to enforce a meritocracy for teachers. They protect those who would be crushed by the out sized power of local and state governments who might act in an unfair manner. If kids are dumber than ever, it is because we have systematically put less and less money into education. The costs of education have constantly increased, but we have not put more money into the system. For example, look at higher ed. When I went to college, my tuition was ~ $2500 per semester for in-state tuition without room/board (UMDCP). You know what it is now? Approximately $11K per semester. That is an increase of about 400%. Want to guess where the majority of that came from? It came from the state pulling back on its contributions to higher ed.

Guess what? The starting salary for first year students hasn't gone up by 400%. It has gone up about 50%.

MD1756

And when I went is was roughly $1,000 - $1,200 (per quarter or $3,000 - $,3600/year) as an out of state student at Va Tech. College is one thing but lets focus on public education. We have been putting more and more money into education. In MoCo pre-K - 12 takes up almost 50% of the county's budget (it's a little less in Frederick) if you were to add the community college, then public education is over 50% of MoCo's budget. It's hard to say that we are not putting money into the system.

Now if you believe we need more money in the system where should it come from? You know my next suggestion, eliminate the income tax deductions/credits that parents get and devote that revenue to public education. For some reason, that position is unpopular (even if that position is equitable) and in fact parents are given more and more support by the state and federal government in the form of higher tax deductions/credits for their children and payments for their children during the pandemic. All of that is money that could go towards education if you believe there is a shortfall. I'm not convinced there is any great shortfall, I do believe that the school systems may not have the right priorities. For example, I never agreed with having SROs in all the schools (a knee jerk reaction to a few shootings). Take the money back that was diverted to SROs and put it towards actual education. I don't agree with giving students time off for protests or public service (although I have no problem with the concept of students doing public service it should be on their own time) when they seem to struggle with basic life problems when they graduate. Too many don't seem to understand revenues, expenditures, budgets and investments. Too many seem to fulfill current wants while ignoring future needs. Schools need to teach students how to better analyze and make informed decisions. It may not require more money but a different focus.

NewMarketParent

@MD1756

Another thing we could do is to raise the tax rates for the richest back up to what they used to be after WWII. They rich overwhelmingly benefit from those investments. They get roads, an educated workforce and an excellent park system. Seems like this used to exist and the wealthy seemed to be doing just fine.

MD1756

NMP, another couple or few percent wouldn't kill them, but I wouldn't want to see the income or sales tax rates go up as high as some countries (e.g., Sweden has an income tax rate of as high as 57.2% and sales tax of 25% (which encourages spending over investing). I think there is more room to eliminate other deductions especially corporate so they pay a higher effective rate. No major corporation with revenue should have effective tax rates and tax bills that are lower than typical individuals.

Hayduke2

Generalize much blue? Are you speaking from firsthand knowledge and experience? If not you should not generalize or stereotype

petersamuel

" We should not be pushing them back into an environment that risks their lives to do the job,,,." Sure, but schools needn't be a greater risk environment than the teachers face going shopping, or to eat out or even just living at home for that matter. There was a careful study in North Carolina where some counties kept schools open and others closed them. Conclusion: both teachers and kids are safer in school than out. It's the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2021/01/06/peds.2020-048090.citation/

NewMarketParent

@petersamuel

I didn't know a former boxer was interested in pediatrics.

NewMarketParent

@petersamuel

Some important points to note in your article...

1. This was for the first 9 weeks

2. Spread was measured by contact tracing, which is a proxy for actual testing

3. This was only successful in a hybrid/remote model where it specifically hinges on a large amount of parents keeping their children at home

4. The control would be not sending children to school which would account for zero cases spread through the school

petersamuel

The letter-writer's assumption is that teachers and children are at no risk if they are not at school. That's simply false. They, like the rest of us, are at risk from all kinds of encounters, but we can minimize that with masks, distancing etc. Schools can be organized in such a way that the risks are no higher than the risks we run at home, and in fact at less risk -- as suggested by the NC example.

NewMarketParent

@petersamuel

I didn't get that. I would think that the risk of congregation is higher than the risk of not congregating. What letter did you read?

If I drive a car, my risk of dying in a car wreck goes up significantly. If I stay home, my risk drops to almost zero of dying in a car wreck.

Hayduke2

Are they the same NC schools that had to go virtual because of outbreaks recently?? https://amp.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article248027430.html

MD1756

NMP, you're correct that your risk of dying in a car accident goes to almost zero when you stay at home, but your risk of dying at home goes up. It seems to me that those who agrue that students risks of dying or having other issues because they can't go to school in person is the government's problem and not the family's problem and that is where I'd disagree. Just as one can always make their home safer to reduce risks of accidents and deaths at home (which is a personal responsibility) a family can do more to engage the students at home and provide their children with the attention they need. Back in the day, families figured out how to survive and even thrive when there were no public schools to send their children to. I'm sure we can somehow manage until it is safer to open schools back up. It seems to me that at least some of the parents who are complaining are more resentful of the added time and effort they have to put in now. If not, they wouldn't balk at summer school to make up for any deficiencies in education their children are getting now.

It would seem to me that keeping schools closed now and implementing a summer session would be much better when all things are considered rather than opening up schools now. If opening up schools causes a problem, you've just made everyone suffer because of the wants of some.

MD1756

If it is less risk, that suggests too many people still don't know what to do to be safe and therefore how can you expect those children to behave any more safely at school than at home? An increase in transmission at home over being at schools means the parents are the problem. Trump and now Biden have shaken my confidence in the CDC recommendations. Here is an article that says it may or may not be safe depending on the conditions of the surrounding community (see: https://www.chalkbeat.org/2021/1/4/22214312/covid-spread-schools-research). Let's not forget that all of this is before we consider the potential impact of the new strains of the virus that have now hit this country, and the fact that at least one of the vaccines is significantly less effective on the mutated strain from South Africa.

NewMarketParent

@petersamuel

There is a difference between the risk that you and I take and what we are forced to take. An employer forcing you to take a risk is not comparable to the risks you take on your own time.

The state cannot not force you to drive a plane. That would be foolish. They don't force people to drive without seatbelts in place. Yet, you seem to be indicating that they should force staff into schools with no vaccine.

NewMarketParent

@MD1756

Not sure what your risk of dying at home goes up is leading towards. If you are staying in your bubble, your risk of dying of COVID should be near-zero. I can't speak to the risk of dying of slipping in the shower or falling down the stairs. Last I heard, COVID wasn't breaking into houses and shooting people.

MD1756

NMP, my point was that some risks need to be addressed by the individuals and not governments, such as the risks of slipping in your own home. Some studies are suggesting that children are at less risk of catching covid in schools than at home. Well, parents and children can impact that risk at home to a large degree. Should schools be opened because some people are not capable of taking proper precautions at home?

If children are feeling isolated, maybe the parents should spend more time interacting with there children. After all, this should only be temporary (and the adverse impact could have been greatly reduced if China was more forthcoming and all countries took more significant steps earlier. Just think if there had been a world-wide stay at home order in March or April last year for two weeks. We'd be much better off now.

Dwasserba

"Teachers do all of this, while being attacked from all sides in an environment repeatedly showing them that all of the kudos we provide are simply lip service. This was prior to the pandemic." I know. I tried to dissuade our daughter from working in a school system. I think it must be demoralizing. Welp

Francine9

Excellent! They work tirelessly to accomplish what at times is the impossible and they never give up. To ask them on top of everything you listed to risk their lives is the lowest of low. They deserve the utmost respect from the community.

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