As I sit here at the dining room table pounding away on my laptop, my wife, Ana, is in the room we call the office, teaching 35 kids a business lesson. She's got a sweet set-up that my son, the computer savant, put together for her—a desktop and a laptop, multiple monitors, and a whiteboard, if necessary. She's deftly handling her responsibilities, introducing the subject matter to the new kids and offering fresh new challenges to the returnees.
I watch her go into the office an hour-and-a-half before the start of her first class and then she goes back in there after working out and hurrying through her dinner. Last night, she was in there well past 10 p.m., revising and refining her time-tested lesson plans so as to best serve her students through distance learning.
Having known her since we met back in college, I can absolutely guarantee that nobody wants to be back in that classroom more than she does. She teaches not for fame and certainly not for fortune. She loves walking up and down the aisles, looking at her students' computer screens and making corrections and recommendations in the moment. Her passion is fueled by seeing that "Oh, I get it now!" light go on in a student's eyes.
She could have retired a few years ago, but she simply loves teaching. She's always told me that if she ever wakes up some morning and no longer wants to be a teacher, she'll go do something else. Or do nothing. But, for now, she still has the fire. And she's an absolute star. She's in the Halls of Fame for both her school and her district. She takes on the added responsibility of being Department head and advisor for both the Future Business Leaders of America and National Honor Society with a smile on her face.
And she is just one of thousands in Southern Arizona going to work in dens and living rooms and "offices," marshalling all their experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to keep their students engaged until we, as a society, can get back to something approximating normal. Everybody—educators, parents, students, administrators—wants kids and teachers back in the classroom. But except for the blinded-by-economics numbskulls in the White House and sycophants like professional moron Betsy DeVos, no one wants to force people into the classroom under the current circumstances.
I absolutely despise the people who use false claims to try to get the schools opened up prematurely. Saying that kids don't get COVID-19 is a lie. Yesterday, in a coronavirus briefing in which Trump spent the first 20 minutes talking about the stock market, he later said "99.995% of kids won't get it." (That's a lie.) Then, he tried to repeat it, but said 99.95% (a different number, but also a lie). I also hate it when the only people that the Trump-bots mention when they make their false arguments are the students. What about the teachers, administrators, bus drivers, maintenance workers, monitors, cafeteria workers, and teachers' aides? They're a significant part of the equation, too, not to mention the parents and grandparents of the kids that some would want shoved back into a classroom before it is safe to be there.
I read an article about a woman who is the head of the Republican caucus of the Oklahoma teachers union. And yes, there are Republican teachers, despite what cynical politicians might say. I've always thought that teachers (like reporters) see the toughness and the unfairness of life on a daily basis so they tend to gravitate toward a political philosophy that actually gives a crap about other people.
Anyway, this teacher said that she's incredibly frustrated by Donald Trump's insistence on schools reopening, saying that his sole focus is on the economy rather than the health and safety of teachers. (Remember when he wanted the churches to be full on Easter Sunday, April 12?! It's the middle of August and we're still going to Mass remotely.) She hints that she won't vote for Trump in November. Meanwhile, Trump is quoted as saying that the potential life-saving actions taken by teachers' union leaders is "disgraceful."
Trump's bleating is having the opposite effect of what he wants. Poll after poll shows that anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of Americans don't want schools to re-open right now. And the more he screams and stomps and tries to bully people, the more the parents and teachers are digging in their heels. In a way, it's working out on two fronts. Students and teachers are staying safe and Trump's re-election hopes are fading fast. He could have helped himself immensely with a couple basic steps (e.g. a national mask mandate) but he can't seem to get out of his own way.
I would challenge him to put his money where his vulgar mouth is and get in front of a classroom of kids and teach a class (as though he could!). But I'm betting that the Secret Service wouldn't let him do so because it would present a serious threat to his health (COVID-19-wise). And yet, he wants America's teachers to put their lives on the line. What's most frustrating is that if he had done his damn job back in the spring, the teachers could now be doing theirs in the classrooms.