Teachers Are Not the Problem, They Are the Solution – So Work With Them

by on February 10, 2021 · 3 comments

in California, Education, Health, San Diego

10 years ago, teachers in San Diego rallied downtown in a protest against school cuts. Photo by Frank Gormlie, 2011.

By Colleen O’Connor

Time to be blunt.  Teachers, students and children are the new electoral battering rams amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just as I wrote in June of last year, the 2020 Presidential election it was “not Biden v. Trump, but COVID-19 v. Trump).”  And the GOP’s own confidential postmortem report (as quoted on Politico), confirms it.

“The autopsy says that coronavirus registered as the top issue among voters, and that Biden won those voters by a nearly 3-to-1 margin. A majority registered disapproval of Trump’s handling of the virus.

“Most voters said they prioritized battling the coronavirus over reopening the economy, even as [Trump] put a firm emphasis on the latter. And roughly 75 percent of voters — most of whom favored Biden — said they favored public mask-wearing mandates.”

Now, the Republicans hope to flip the script and blame all the COVID ills on the Democrats.

Thus, the 2022 Governor’s and Congressional elections will not be about Democrats v. Republicans, or San Diego’s Mayor, Kevin Faulconer v. Governor Newsom (plus the recall effort) but Democrats v. COVID-19’s effects on schools, children and teachers.

As GOP leader, Senator Mitch McConnell telegraphed the drive last week, “The obstacle is a lack of willpower. Not among students. Not among parents. Just among the rich, powerful unions that donate huge sums to Democrats and get a stranglehold over education in many communities.”

Back to being blunt.  New likely GOP bumper stickers.  “Save the Children.  Blame the Teachers.  Defeat the Unions.”

The recall effort against Gov. Newsom is a dress rehearsal for 2020.  The Republicans win either way.  A cheaper election if the recall is successful.  A massive amount of data, pre-autopsy research results on the best messaging and selected targeted voters.  A bonus, an early “pre-primary” winnowing of the GOP field.

Faulconer’s Mar a Lago photo op with the disgraced Trump will cost him dearly and Newsom’s COVID-19 school response could become his albatross.

As Anne Appelbaum’s writes in The Twilight of Democracy, “Donald Trump’s grotesque incapacity to govern has made him an easy target, but the difficulties with democracy are subtler, wider, and deeper.”

So, too, are the difficulties of pandemic education and the results of decades long neglect.

The decay of public education, was driven not just by underfunding and compounded with the exodus of students to charter, parochial, and academies of choice.  It was also swamped with multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary challenges, that left public schools woefully under-equipped.

Parents, teachers, superintendents, bus drivers, and staff all want a return to in class learning.

The risk, COVID-19 and the new more dangerous variants.

Enter the teachers and the 2022 elections.  Once heroes.  Now GOP villains?  Not so fast.

The real reason teachers’ unions almost always win strikes?

Simple. They have become the day time cops; the health care responders; the mental health aides; the substitute parents (for those one-parent households who must work, often below minimum wage); the counselors for OCD; autism; lunch meals, abuse survivors; special needs; learning disabilities and other unique maladies with which teachers are confronted every day of every school year.  And often, they buy the school supplies (i.e., pencils and papers) for their students.

In short, teachers have become the omnipresent all-around, go-to saviors in every school yard setting.  Amid massive demographic shifts, they have become the parent/ law enforcement/ first responder substitutes.

Yet, we have no vaccines available to them?  Why has California vaccinated all the states’ prison inmates and provided them with access to monoclonal antibodies, plus weekly COVID testing but, not the teachers?

Why is felon COVID-19 healthcare better than that provided for California’s non-felon teachers?

If they cannot get vaccinated, why should they shoulder the burden of a pandemic?  Many are not.  They are just leaving or retiring early.

As NEA Union President, Becky Pringle, told Truthout. “40 percent of mid-range teachers — those with 21 to 30 years of teaching experience, the people who are mentors and leaders in many schools — have indicated that they are likely to resign or retire early.”

As AFT’s Union President, Randi Weingarten explained, “What we have is a patchwork with no real national strategy to ensure that buildings, teachers, school staff and students are safe. Schools are not islands.”

So, where do we go from here?  Time to “Turn Around.”

There are no timelines in San Diego, Los Angeles, or San Francisco for sending elementary and middle school students back to the classroom.  Forget high school.

Get a schedule.  Roll it out.  GO LOCAL.  Structure it one or two grades at a time.  K-2.  Two weeks later.  Grades 3-5 etc.  Do real-time corrections and move on. Any school, district, or community that wants to open safely; give them emergency vaccine priority.  NOW.

Give them all hazard pay.

Ask retired educators to fill in as teaching assistants, professional aides, or even bus drivers.

Work with the teachers.  Not against them.  You lose them.  You lose the future and the election.





{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Gravitas February 10, 2021 at 10:27 am

And then there is the shooting of a clinic providing vaccines to TEACHERS!


Hopper Moss February 10, 2021 at 11:28 am

It’s getting really bad out there.

Just from January 21st to February 8th, the COVID-19 death count has surpassed 60,000 Americans.

That’s more than the 58,220 American soldiers who died in JFK and LBJ’s Vietnam War between 1964 and 1975.


Richard February 11, 2021 at 7:44 am

Don’t forget Nixon who continued the war for 6 more years in the name of “Peace with Honor..” I know I fought for the criminal president in Viet Nam. I watched as my fellow marines needlessly sacrificed their lives for the Liar and chief, Richard Nixon. Learn your history dude.


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