Dave Grohl defends teachers: ‘Why should any teacher trust Betsy DeVos?’

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Dave Grohl has a new audio edition of his Dave’s True Stories series, and you can hear it on YouTube or read it on The Atlantic. (Earlier editions are in print on Instagram.) Dave opens with the fact that he left school in 11th grade to become a musician. He said he still has nightmares where he has to take tests unprepared. Then he talks about his mom, a former public schoolteacher who raised two kids as a single mom and worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. He gushes about what a great teacher she was, and how students tell her she changed their lives. My parents are both retired teachers and I could relate to his stories about his mom so much. Dave talked to his mom, now 82, about her concerns for teachers. The crux of the essay is about the fact that people with absolutely no knowledge or experience in teaching are making careless and dangerous decisions that will affect children, teachers and staff. This reminds me f the story I covered yesterday about the main Florida teachers’ union suing Gov. DeSantis for reopening schools with no plan.

When it comes to the daunting—and ever more politicized—question of reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, the worry for our children’s well-being is paramount. Yet teachers are also confronted with a whole new set of dilemmas that most people would not consider. “There’s so much more to be addressed than just opening the doors and sending them back home,” my mother tells me over the phone. Now 82 and retired, she runs down a list of concerns based on her 35 years of experience: “masks and distancing, temperature checks, crowded busing, crowded hallways, sports, air-conditioning systems, lunchrooms, public restrooms, janitorial staff.” Most schools already struggle from a lack of resources; how could they possibly afford the mountain of safety measures that will need to be in place? And although the average age of a schoolteacher in the United States is in the early 40s, putting them in a lower-risk group, many career teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, nurses, and janitors are older and at higher risk. Every school’s working faculty is a considerable percentage of its population, and should be safeguarded appropriately. I can only imagine if my mother were now forced to return to a stuffy, windowless classroom. What would we learn from that lesson? When I ask what she would do, my mother replies, “Remote learning for the time being.”

Remote learning is an inconvenient and hopefully temporary solution. But as much as Donald Trump’s conductor-less orchestra would love to see the country prematurely open schools in the name of rosy optics (ask a science teacher what they think about White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s comment that “science should not stand in the way”), it would be foolish to do so at the expense of our children, teachers, and schools.

Every teacher has a “plan.” Don’t they deserve one too? My mother had to come up with three separate lesson plans every single day (public speaking, AP English, and English 10), because that’s what teachers do: They provide you with the necessary tools to survive. Who is providing them with a set of their own? America’s teachers are caught in a trap, set by indecisive and conflicting sectors of failed leadership that have never been in their position and can’t possibly relate to the unique challenges they face. I wouldn’t trust the U.S. secretary of percussion to tell me how to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” if they had never sat behind a drum set, so why should any teacher trust Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to tell them how to teach, without her ever having sat at the head of a class? (Maybe she should switch to the drums.) Until you have spent countless days in a classroom devoting your time and energy to becoming that lifelong mentor to generations of otherwise disengaged students, you must listen to those who have. Teachers want to teach, not die, and we should support and protect them like the national treasures that they are. For without them, where would we be?

[From The Atlantic]

I was listening to MSNBC last night and one of their experts was saying that band, maybe art and of course most sports need to be postponed for now too. I hadn’t even thought about band and of course there are so many other extracurricular activities that will need to be decided on a case-by-case basis. My son’s school hasn’t decided how to handle sports and is thinking of offering some low and medium-contact sports, like cross country and maybe soccer. It’s not just whether kids should be offered the option to go back to class, there are so many other considerations that people who don’t work in schools can’t anticipate.

In his CNN interview, Florida Education Association president Fedrick Ingram said that he wanted to work with DeSantis to come up with a plan for getting back to school. Teachers aren’t getting PPE, they don’t get overtime (but police sure do) and they don’t even get needed classroom supplies in most cases. They’re expected to educate our children for eight hours a day, and now they’re being told to put their lives and their family’s lives at risk, for very low pay, with virtually no support and with no plan. Schools are scrambling to come up with their own. People in charge, like DeVos, are actively working against them because she has a heavily vested interest in making public school fail. Others, like DeSantis, are spouting lies claiming children don’t spread covid because they’re trying to suck up to Trump. It’s despicable. I hope the unions push back where they can and I hope that the growing awareness of massive police budgets can help teachers get their fair cut too.

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35 Responses to “Dave Grohl defends teachers: ‘Why should any teacher trust Betsy DeVos?’”

  1. Franklymydear... says:

    Hurray for Dave! I am a teacher and we are starting the year with virtual learning and parents in the community are FURIOUS. I get that it’s a hardship for some families but there is absolutely no way to have school safely. We need to change the way we think. Time for businesses to step up and maybe let ppl who have to work in a specific location bring their school aged kids and set them up in a room. It’s hard for everyone. No teacher wants to start the year like this, but parents need to grow up and stop throwing tantrums about something they can’t control. Do they not understand that when all these kids pass the virus around they are going to bring it home? People need to stop being so selfish. We had a school board mtg last night and I was so embarrassed for all these parents who were just screaming about what they need and want. How hard this will be for THEM. Guess what?! It’s hard for everyone. Grow up!!!! And make it work, like grown ups are supposed to do. Our children are learning terrible lessons on how to problem solve.

    • Ionio says:

      Unfortunately, our lack of federal response has not insured most schools are not well-funded enough to ensure social distancing. It does seem that equity issues don’t even come to mind for you, however. It is not selfish to expect our country to put the needs of our children ahead of other things, like retail shopping.
      How is a single mother expected to support her family if there is no school? I know for a fact that half of my child’s class has not logged in since mid March, when everything was closed. No way should high risk teachers( or those who care for them) teach in the classroom. However, I am disheartened by the fact that low risk teachers (so many in our school are in their 20s and 30s) are not stepping up to help ensure that our most vulnerable families are protected. As an essential worker (social worker) who works in the hospital, I am horrified by our administration but also disappointed by teachers who assert that online is an easy and palatable solution for most families.

      • Ionio says:

        Sorry “ensured”

      • Ionio says:

        My apologies for the typos.

      • (TheOG) jan90067 says:

        Ionio, people in ALL age groups are contracting Covid. Younger kids may not be symptomatic, but drs. are finding lung scarring in kids that have contracted it, as well brain inflammation, and other cellular damage in organs. Just because you aren’t flattened by it, or put on a ventilator doesn’t mean you won’t have bodily damage. Sending in “younger teachers” to “take one for the team” is so wrong. They TOO can/will take it home to THEIR families.

        What districts should do is take the operating budgets for the physical buildings and buy iPads/comp. to lend out to students lacking. Public libraries that have carrels that can be spaced can be opened up to use the computer equipment, esp. by HS students who might be able to SD a little easier than little kids.

        Another option is to “bubble” with a few families with kids the same age, pool the kids together with a covid tested teacher. Of course, all the families would have to agree to not break the bubble.

        None of these are perfect ideas, just ideas. I taught 3rd for 30 yrs. and I KNOW there’d be NO WAY to get kids to stay distanced, to keep on a mask, to still sneeze/cough into an elbow, etc… You can’t even get them to keep on a jacket at recess in 50* weather!

      • goofpuff says:

        School is not daycare. We shouldn’t treat it as such or expect that from them. Their job is to teach our children not babysit them so we can go to work. I get that its hard for single parent families and its doubly hard for economically challenged families as well who don’t have easy access to the internet or computer resources.

        But there are better options than putting people at risk. That option is to push for funding education so that we are prepared when school opens, not to open it unprepared. Look at how well opening business unprepared has done for us so far.

        Just a few:
        1. Give emergency funding to public schools so they can afford to make sure all students have the materials they need and access to any materials they need.
        2. Give a national plan for handling school safety that all schools must follow.

        We seriously need to respect our teachers more here in the US. It’s embarrassing how we just don’t.

    • JanetDR says:

      Yes! The child care part of this is a huge piece that no one is talking about! I keep saying that places where employees are in contact with a lot of people (nursing homes and group homes have been particularly on my mind since the beginning) should be funded somehow to have on site day cares. That would at least limit their exposure. And maybe that would be more support for kids to be on line with schools too, although it certainly wouldn’t be one to one support.

    • bettyrose says:

      This may not come as much comfort now, but I firmly believe that when history recounts the downfall of the U.S. as one of the supreme world powers in world history, teachers will be remembered as heroes.

  2. Bryn says:

    A nine year old girl died in Florida from Covid. As far as i have read, she didn’t have an underlying conditions and they weren’t sure where she even became infected

    • Dazed and Confused says:

      Exactly! I’d like to hear from the government, school boards, parents, etc. who are trying to open schools at the moment what the “acceptable losses” are when it comes to the lives of the children. The correct answer should be “ZERO” but I don’t think it is for many of them.

      • (TheOG) jan90067 says:

        Quite a few have already come out and said THEIR kids and grandkids will homeschool… &^%$#!!! HYPOCRITES!!!!

        Let’s see where Barron and Daughter-Wife’s kids go…as well as Usay and Quday’s kids. They will NOT be going to public school, or even a private school. They will be at home with tutors. I’d bet my home on it.

      • Dazed and Confused says:

        It’s amazing how they are willing to endanger other students but not theirs, right? My governor tried to mandate a delay in starting schools until after Labor Day but because of the Republican Legislators she had to get approval from the state school board. Watching them not pass her mandate while they were on a Zoom meeting was infuriating. Now, each individual district has to make the choice – despite our Covid cases climbing daily. We have more active Covid cases now than we did in May!!

        If it isn’t safe enough for you to hold your board meeting in person, it’s not safe enough for kids to go back to school in person.

        The whole thing makes me ragey.

    • Sigmund says:

      Our friend’s teenage daughter died unexpectedly from Covid complications. No one was aware at the time she had it. She was not in an at risk group (so no other health conditions).

      This can and does kill people. Parents need to remember that when they’re upset about schools not meeting in person. It’s an unimaginably hard situation, but only one of the options risks the lives of their children and the teachers and staff.

  3. CariBean says:

    This man is amazing. Everything he does is for the benefit of others.

    Also, I have yet to hear from just one teacher who is all for reopening now. Betsy DeVos can go pound sand.

  4. Myriam says:

    Voting Trump out come November also means getting rid of Devos. Please vote.

  5. Swack says:

    Retired teacher hear and am so glad I’m not having to do this. Teaching in the classroom is a breeze, to me, as opposed to going on line. I admire all teachers, who, last year, had to put the skids on their lesson plans and do a 180 to be able to teach on line. The best solution would to be able to go back full time in school but that is not possible. What parents can do is support and not tear down teachers. On one school FB page in my district there was a commenter that swears “educators” (basically teachers) want on line because they don’t want to do their job. Teachers teach because they want to inspire and love interacting with the students. As much as I hated the bureaucracy of the job, I loved teaching the students and truly miss that part.

    • Anna says:

      As a teacher, I can testify that I’ve put in 3x as much work in translating my dynamic classroom content into a virtual/remote format, and the expectations are much greater. I may be in the minority when it comes to “going the extra mile” (providing pre-recorded lectures, recording synchronous optional class sessions so that students with disabilities or who missed the class can listen later, discussion threads, online homework submission, and individual emails and zoom meetings, etc.). But everyone I know who teaches is working very hard to re-create/re-shape their curricula into something that is a strong and impactful as the in-person. There are differences and losses, yes, but I believe there are ways to do it effectively and also some benefits to online learning.

      One semester without in-person classes is not going to ruin everything but how we manage it is what determines how well we’ll get to the other side.

      I do feel very badly for single parents and all those parents who must deal with the childcare issue. I teach at college-level but there are different concerns there with students who are in dire situations and severely uprooted.

      • Swack says:

        Thank you for your dedication. I know the teachers for the grandkiddos went above and beyond what was expected. It pisses me off that there are parents out there berating the teachers. Walk a mile in our shoes. Most of them couldn’t.

    • Sigmund says:

      I taught for four years and left after my state took away the bargaining rights for teacher unions. I’m so glad I did. Our state is now forcing teachers back into classrooms, masks optional, and the unions have no way to protect the teachers or students.

      Teachers do not deserve to be seen as sacrifices, nor do the other staff members who keep schools running.

  6. EM says:

    Read this yesterday, and thought it was well-put. Betsy DeVos is providing no actual leadership to schools, and that’s why this whole thing has been such a mess. She needs to go.

    • Mel M says:

      She is the worst of the worst, her position was purely bought and paid for and she has zero business being there. Her position is the last place we need someone like her. She’s as qualified for SofE as dump is for president. And I cannot stand when she sits there and smiles and continues to repeat the same BS talking points with a blank stare because she’s clueless.

    • jbones says:

      We’re experiencing something similar in Ontario Canada; we have an Education Minister who has no experience teaching in public schools, no experience attending a public school, and an agenda to privatize education. He’s a dude with slick suits, no kids, and no plan for September.

      He did recently send out a crappy 3 page Word Doc asking school boards to circle yes or no to questions pertaining to preparedness for a safe return (have you checked air circulation in all your schools? yes or no). So everyone circles no, and students get 7 cents a day to stay safe at school- that’ll buy them one Lysol wipe per day. I teach in a school of 1100 students, 230 staff, and I will personally be teaching 210 unmasked teens if it’s business as usual come September. I really appreciate what Dave is doing. Thanks Super Dave <3

  7. Lizzie Bathory says:

    So many of my friends–the best & brightest from our high school–became teachers. I’ve been so proud to see what amazing assets they are to schools & communities. And many of them are teaching in states that are pushing to do all in-person classes even while COVID cases are surging. They’re terrified for themselves, their students & of course their own families. It’s heartbreaking. Good for Dave for speaking out.

  8. Becks says:

    This makes me love Dave Grohl even more! I read this yesterday and it just made me so happy.
    I teach high school art in Los Angeles and we are 100% distance learning for the fall semester. It’s not ideal, because art is so hands on, but it can be done.
    I don’t think the arts and electives should be postponed though. If anything, kids need the creative outlet now, more than ever. It’s so important to keep the arts alive in our schools.

  9. jferber says:

    I love you, Dave.

  10. Jerusha says:

    Thank you, Dave. I’m retired after forty years as a librarian in a public school. I cannot count how many of my colleagues-teachers, administrators, office staff, cleaning and cafeteria staff-had serious underlying conditions, ranging from diabetes, cancer, sickle cell, kidney disease and heart disease. This is probably true of many school systems. Opening up the schools within a month would put them at high risk. They don’t need to be sacrifices to earn trump a few votes.

    Pence said that if his grown children were school age he and Mother would send them to school. Well, guess what, your kids can go in the open schools as volunteers. They can work in the cafeteria, clean toilets, mop up vomit. So can Mother. So can you too, Q-Tip, since you don’t seem to do much else. Put up or shut up.

  11. Pansy says:

    Public school art teacher here….I believed all of what Save said about Devos was before covid but now….I have never seen a shift from “teachers are America’s heroes” to “here take these kids back and please don’t die bc we don’t know what to expect” like this in my 20 year career.
    I’m scared, my actual kids are scared, My colleagues are scared. And now we’ve had salaries and budgets cut on top of it. I’m scared for my students, she’s…..not. She’s not scared for any of us and it shows.

  12. Polly says:

    Dave Grohl’s mom taught at my high school so I’d guess he, more than many, can understand the educator side of this issue. He was in our school one day playing drums in the band room while visiting his mom (this was PEAK Nirvana time) and I didn’t go see him because I didn’t want to intrude on his personal time. I’m STILL mad at myself!

  13. L says:

    H.S. Special Ed. Teacher here. Devos needs to go! Thank you Dave!

  14. LD81 says:

    Police don’t get overtime fyi

    • Cinnamon says:

      They do in the two police departments that my brothers work in. They get paid either OT wages (time and a half) or regular wages with the OT being allocated as extra comp time when they have to pick up extra shifts, which is frequent. Their departments are both understaffed in addition to having a segment of older officers who continually go out on disability, which means they have their position held for them if/when they return and the department can’t hire someone to fill it. Hence the continual need for OT, with one of my brothers currently being in the middle of a 20 day run on duty. The other’s department has mandatory overtime every other week so they pick between the shifts they already know are going to be short to at least be able to plan for their OT. They aren’t getting rich of their OT but they are getting paid for it.

  15. adastraperaspera says:

    Amen, brother.

  16. SJR says:

    Dave Grohl is nobodies fool on any issue.
    He is very well spoken unlike Trump, who struggles to put words into any order that might make sense.

    There is no f’ing way my kid is going into a school building this Fall. If I need to pay lawyers to fight to keep my child safe, I’m willing to find a way.

    Christ on a cracker, the US is on it’s knees this year….Trump.Must.Go.

  17. Trashaddict says:

    I remember amazing teachers in my life, from mine to my kids. 4th grade introduced us to Greek myths. 5th grade jumped a 12 inch brick wall onto a downslope to break up a fight: in heels. She was a force to be reckoned with. 7th grade English – made me respect my homework obligations. 9 grade science – probably would have been a doctor today. 11th grade history: healthy skeptic. Medical school – at least 4 amazing women role models who shared love of knowledge, collaborative leadership skills, and sheer dogged toughness (only woman in her medical school class!). My kids’ co-teachers – kids choosing projects, democratic process in action in kindergarten! 1st & 2nd grade: work hard, play fair, nobody gets hurt (if only the grownups knew this). High school art teacher: incredibly gifted and made every kid feel they could be an artist.
    These are people I remember pretty vividly! Thank you to all the fantastic teachers I’ve known, what would my life be without them? Where would we all be? They deserve better.

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