For several weeks, I’ve asked the question that reflects how many educators feel: Where’s Betsy?
And as if in response, she and her incompetent, sociopathic boss, Donald Trump, showed up in the worst way, demanding that schools be opened in the fall, and even threatening to withhold federal funds to school districts that don’t obey their directive. This despite the fact that the U.S. has reported 3.1 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 140,000 deaths due to the virus.
In a time when there are no vaccines to protect citizens, Betsy and Donald have finally addressed the issue of how to manage schools during the pandemic: by sacrificing the lives of children, teachers, administrators and school staff.
Crazy Donald tweeted on July 6:
“Corrupt Joe Biden and the Democrats don’t want to open schools in the Fall for political reasons, not for health reasons! They think it will help them in November. Wrong, the people get it!”
And you, Betsy, were equally clueless, proclaiming that schools “need to be fully operational” regardless of the coronavirus threat. In fact, according to the Associated Press, you blasted plans developed by Virginia’s elite Fairfax County Public Schools to allow for a hybrid learning platform where students would attend in-person classes two times per week and the rest of their learning would be online. Fairfax County Schools developed the proposals with input from parents who will make a final decision on July 15.
“A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all,” you said, contending that Fairfax County’s distance learning last spring was a “disaster.”
Well, Betsy, if that northern Virginia school district’s distance-learning plan is such a “disaster,” what kind of support and guidance did you lend to school district or to the governor of Virginia? I’ll answer that question for you: absolutely nothing.
In fact, Betsy, you and Donald would rather divert federal aid to private schools, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Michigan, Maine, New Mexico and Wisconsin have joined the suit, according to National Public Radio.
Becerra contends that the nearly $13 billion in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) gives a disproportionate amount of Title I funds — traditionally reserved for low-income students — to private schools.
I am an educator in Houston, a city that has now earned the dubious distinction of being a COVID-19 hot spot. For me and other Houston area educators, this is a time of profound uncertainty, chaos and fear. Making matters worse, the CARES funds that my district and other Houston area school districts were depending on will now be allotted for other state needs along with private schools, making things worse for Texas public schools in the age of COVID-19.
I’ll tell you the story of two teachers that can best illustrate this uncertainty: one just beginning his career and one the end of hers.
The young teacher opted not to relocate from Chicago to Houston due to the city’s dangerous COVID-19 status. Meanwhile, the veteran teacher with nearly 50 years’ experience is now emotionally grappling with the decision of whether to retire in the age of COVID-19. It does not help us, Betsy, when you and 45 are putting our lives in danger for the sake of politics and reopening the economy.
I tell you what Donald, if you’re so confident about the state of schools in the fall, why not have your son, Barron, attend a public school — say one in nearby Fairfax County Va., — instead of the elite St. Andrews Episcopal School in Maryland?
Indeed, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten summarized it best for us all when she tweeted:
“Trump and DeVos woke up yesterday about the importance of public schooling. They demanded schools reopen but they didn’t offer any plans or resources to support schools. Trump and DeVos may want to play it fast and loose with the lives of people who go to restaurants and hair salons, but we’re not willing to play it fast and loose with the kids and teachers who go to schools.”