JUST US!

Teachers: sometimes it’s “just us” as child advocates. I was a career teacher for 46 years. A local reporter contacted me regarding my decades of reporting child abuse, which this pandemic is creating. I just completed the interview and learned this staggering fact: Child abuse reports to my county’s DHS during the first part of April 2019, compared to the same period of time in 2020, have dropped from more than 950 to under 400. So that’s good news, yes? Certainly not!

A headline from the April 7, 2020 New York Times: THE CORONAVIRUS COULD CAUSE A CHILD ABUSE EPIDEMIC. The article, written by Dr. Agrawal, a child abuse pediatrician, states: The Covid-19 pandemic has created the conditions for a rise in child abuse that could go unchecked.

But not in the county I live, right? Wrong.

The frontline reporters of child abuse are America’s teachers and counselors. Their advocacy role is completely diminished through eLearning and lock downs. Our children are sheltered in place with parents who lost jobs, lost savings or both. Our educators were literally given hours to swing 180º and mount online presentations. Their multiple classes, full of children who never experienced this non-contact educational system, have encountered the lack of WiFi, working computers, frustrated parents and politicians who hypothesize school starting in January of 2021. Child abuse is on the rise but there is no one to report it. Stop this madness now!

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Form national, state and local coalitions TODAY and address opening schools sooner than later. These coalitions, comprised of high school students, parents, teachers and administrators, hold the future in educational reform. Legislators and government officials must listen to these coalitions and implement their findings.
  2. Brainstorm with the philosophy of “no idea is wrong.” Conceptualize social distancing, sanitizing, contact tracing, class size, local medical preparedness and the use of tandem online/ in school resources .
  3. Curb the constant drone of gloom and doom from politicians, scientists and the medical community. When you take away hope and purpose from America and her children, the end results will highlight a more gruesome post pandemic tragedy than ever imagined.
  4. Embrace the “we won’t know until we try” mindset, which defined this country since her inception.

Let’s not waste another day on data, hypothesis or painting pictures of pessimism. None of those elements serve our children well. Preach forward thinking solutions. Practice proactive approaches. Persevere to open our schools no later than the fall of 2020.

This Sequestered Semester: The Loss of Hope and Purpose

Malala Yousafzai is my idol. As a teacher, I promoted her throughout our school by purchasing 300 “Ask Me About Malala” buttons. Each of the 300 students were tasked with sharing information with the school body about this heroic young woman. Malala almost gave her life in order for the young women of her country to receive an education. Her quote reflects the power of education during this Covid 19 sequestered semester.

As a retired teacher and a current vocal coach, I am privy to the viewpoints of parents, educators and students in this difficult time. What have I learned?

  1. Students, parents, and teachers are stressed beyond measure in the abyss of online education, class requirements, homework expectations and the unknown of future schooling.
  2. Hope and purpose are lost for both our educators and students every time a “professional” bloviates on television regarding the extension of stay-at-home orders.
  3. Federal and state legislators, who previously inserted their upturned noses into American education, are incredibly silent, shedding no light on this jagged path of educating our children via eLearning.
  4. Parents are in tears, teenagers depressed and teachers’ hearts are broken. Our college and high school seniors are devastated. Will colleges be closed? Are there jobs post graduation in this economy? Will mental health facilities be equipped to handle the next wave of illness?

Let’s contemplate some viable solutions:

  1. Do NOT cancel schools for the remainder of the year. Keep all options open: restarting schools with formal graduations taking place at a later date; schools opening with staggered schedules, allowing for social distancing; admin and faculty stepping up and creating ways to give their students encouragement.
  2. All classes, for this semester, should be pass/fail.
  3. Assignments must be creative and yes, fun. Stop all testing! Check for understanding in a less confrontational way.
  4. This semester is about surviving, not exponential learning. Obtaining any new knowledge under these conditions is short termed at best. Accept that as a given.
  5. Find ways to encourage and lessen the fear. The community, legislators and the federal government need to understand that job loss and illness are not the only caveats facing homes across the nation. The future of this nation, her children, are paralyzed in limbo, not knowing what destiny holds.

At present, the only light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train! Everyone involved with education needs to press pause, step back and reassess how to better support our children and their teachers. Hope and purpose are dying faster than the virus kills.

“RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!” raises issues and identifies solutions for students, parents, teachers and administrators. Available at Amazon/Barnes & Noble.