‘TIL DEATH DO US PART
Being a Teacher in 2020
By Tiffany Crow
A Shelby County Schools teacher, parent, and a COVID survivor.
She wrote this letter to share her experience.
As schools across the nation prepare for the upcoming school year (whether it be in person, hybrid, or completely virtual) teachers and families are writhing in agony with a sense of impending doom. One minute, we hear from superintendents and elected officials that we will be following data and “science” in efforts to plan for the upcoming year, and the next, we are being threatened with reduced funding and told that we will be going back to school buildings, in person, regardless of climbing case numbers, increasing death rates, and individuals being left with lifelong residual health issues from a virus that we still know so little about.
The decision facing parents is certainly a difficult one, but I must ask you… What about the TEACHERS?
What about the teachers who have historically spent all of their own extra time and money to make up for deficits in funding and staffing capacity?
What about the teacher who has cancer, and will now be asked to enter into the world’s largest experimental petri-dish of infection?
What about the teacher who has a child at home awaiting an organ transplant, in a one income household?
What about all of the teachers who will get sick and experience lifelong health complications, financial ruin due to excessive absence, or death?
Have we really convinced ourselves that these people don’t matter?
What about teachers like myself, a Covid-19 “survivor?”
Did I survive Covid-19? Yes, I did survive, but I, a previously healthy 27 year old, am now faced with what could be lifelong and possibly debilitating health issues. I have been “well” for quite some time now, yet I am not “well.” Plagued with daily fatigue, muscle weakness, rashes, heart rate fluctuations, chronic head and neck pain, insomnia, PTSD, digestive issues, and cognitive/memory issues. I am still unsure just how extensive or lasting these issues will be, but now that I am two months out from having a “mild” case of Covid-19, I am STILL facing these health complications.
For me, medical bills are piling up in a year with no teacher raises, no improvement in benefits, and no known salary schedule. It seems the only thing that has increased is the risk and demand for teachers.
Teachers across the nation are preparing for the worst. We are finalizing wills, upping our disability insurance, and maxing out on life insurance benefits. Many teachers are already purchasing PPE, cleaning products, plexiglass dividers, and other band-aid solutions to the astronomical catastrophe that awaits upon school re-entry.
Is virtual instruction anyone’s first choice, during normal circumstances? Most of us would say “NO!” I, too, believe there is no replacement for in person schooling, but I disagree with people who say virtual instruction cannot be valuable. I taught virtual summer school, and found it to be quite similar in strength and weakness to in person schooling. The advantages were great, however. My students were able to become true 21st century learners, and I was able to become a true 21st century teacher. I learned valuable tools that will work with virtual instruction, but will also be highly effective and enriching when we do return to “normal.” I was able to build community with students and parents, and my students were able to develop a sense of intrinsic motivation that I had not seen at large during the regular school year.
What began as a stressful virtual experience, ended with both student and teacher growth. I urge people to understand that planned virtual instruction is completely different from the patchwork crisis schooling that was offered last spring.
While I understand the need for schools to be open for working families, I respectfully ask that you remember that schools were never meant to serve as free childcare. Teachers are not trained or educated to serve as babysitters. We are also not trained or educated to serve as healthcare professionals or nurses. The bulk of our training and coursework centers around providing a service.
Although teachers and schools, for decades, have offered a variety of services outside of the realm of the service we actually offer (education), we have finally met our match with the coronavirus pandemic. This is a problem that may be beyond our efforts to “fix,” as teachers have done for so long. I certainly do not have the answers to solve the ills of a capitalist-obsessed society, but I want to be clear that the service we provide CAN and SHOULD be offered remotely until it is safe to physically enter school buildings.
The current state of our existence is filled with unrest, anxiety, sadness, and pain. I, too, wish that we could press a magic button and return to “normal,” but the reality is that we can’t, not for some time, anyway. What and who are we willing to risk in an effort to re-enter schools in person? How many deaths are acceptable? How many people, like me, who will live with health issues for the foreseeable future is acceptable? Does your fear of an educational setback outweigh my fear for my life?
For once, teachers are voicing hesitation, frustration, and fear, instead of just coming up with a self-sacrificing solution to the problem, and society is appalled. For once, we are begging to be able to put our own family and health first, and the backlash has been intense. Our passion is being weaponized, we are being accused of not caring about children, or not being flexible enough, or even being lazy and unwilling to work. How soon we forget the “backbone” of our society, along with all of the good work we have done. Teachers are strong, resilient, and creative, but this is one situation I don’t think we can “Donors Choose” our way out of.
Rep. London Lamar (D-Memphis) joins to talk about the protests and her VOTE BY MAIL FOR ALL amendment, which led to accusations of “stealing elections” by Rep. William Lamberth.
PODCAST ON ITUNES
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) June 3, 2020
HERE’S A CLIP!
CLIP: “Why are Republicans so afraid of people voting?”@Kanew & @RepLamar “Clap Back” 🔥at a viewer who says Dems are “changing the rules to cheat” with VOTE BY MAIL FOR ALL— reminding him “rules” left unchanged historically hurt black people.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) June 10, 2020
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“OBAMAGATE” EXPOSED: At his press conference yesterday a REPORTER asked Trump: “You appeared to accuse Obama of a crime yesterday. What did he do?”
TRUMP’s response: “You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody.”
TRANSLATION: “OBAMAGATE”, currently trending because of right wing desperation, is bullshit. 💩
They want us to believe Obama is going to prison, but it’s Trump’s capos who are in prison, convicted, or having their charges dropped because of pure corruption. Non-Facebook Link
–MEMPHIS ELECTION COMMISSION QUESTIONS: The MEMPHIS Election Commission needs to be watched. Election administrator Linda Phillips has conflicts of interest with their voter registration software company, including her sons working there. This is in addition to their lawyer sharing office space with the lobbyist for the touch screen voting machine company they just awarded another contract to, even though touch screens take 3x longer, and they recently *miscounted* black votes. Voter suppression in minority-heavy areas continues.
OBAMA RIPS TRUMP’S RESPONSE: OBAMA calls Trump’s Pandemic Response “a CHAOTIC DISASTER”, adding “when that mindset of what’s in it for me and to heck with everybody else is operationalized inside our government.” Boy is he right. And boy do we miss him. Non-Facebook Link
–A CONTACT TRACING SHORTAGE is being reported in TN, where we have just 25% of the recommended amount of contact tracers – 1,500 people short for the critical disease mitigation effort. Rep. Mike Stewart is right… with so many unemployed, this is a win-win way to put folks to work.
-A BULLSEYE 🎯 target was placed at NASHVILLE NAACP President Keith Caldwell’s house. He says the responding officer “shrugged” & said the target was “pretty cool.” Unacceptable… Racists sure are feeling emboldened lately.
-An unreleased White House report has VIRUS RATES SPIKING IN THE HEARTLAND — “10 top areas recorded surges of 72.4% or greater over 7-day period… They include Des Moines, Iowa; Amarillo, Texas and Central City, Kentucky… and NASHVILLE, TN.”
-Yesterday TRUMP had the nerve to say “We have met the moment, and we have prevailed.”Most cases in the world. Most deaths in the world. 80,000+ dead Americans and their loved ones would likely disagree. 🇺🇸
-SEARING new Biden ad🔥: “We have an economic crisis because we have a public health crisis… and we have a public health crisis because Trump refused to act…Trump didn’t build a great economy. His failure to lead destroyed one.” 🔥🎯Non-Facebook Link
-WASH POST EDITORIAL BOARD: “WHISTLEBLOWER paints shocking picture of White House Bungling COVID Response”
–BROOKINGS: “As states reopen, COVID-19 is spreading into even more Trump counties”
-This is Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary, who just tested positive for COVID-19, at the healthcare facility where Pence just *heroically* delivered masks. The ONLY ONE not wearing a mask. 😷🤔
-We took the liberty of fixing this for Trump:
-UC BERKELEY STUDY: a simple solution to help us emerge from this nightmarish lockdown? ALWAYS social distance in public and, most importantly, wear a mask… There is no excuse not to mask up at this point. It’s not brave, it’s selfish. 😷
-It didn’t have to be this way.
-4 Americans Died At BENGHAZI — Hillary faced hours upon hours of interrogation. 80,000 Americans are dead. Worst outbreak on 🌍 — yet Trump won’t let the task force answer questions? What is he hiding? 🤔😷 🇺🇸 SHARE THIS
-RESIGN, BARR: “Nearly 2000 former Justice Department officials have signed onto a letter calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign over his improper intervention in the criminal case of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.”
–CARTOON OF THE DAY: Obama’s Crime, revealed! #Obamagate
-Tennessee says absentee ballots are now available “for those eligible”, but this isn’t good enough. We should all be “eligible” to not have to risk our lives to vote. Holler at Hargett: 615-741-2819 ☎️
-California will send ALL voters mail-in ballots for the November election. THIS is what states that actually want people to vote and believe in democracy do during a deadly pandemic. We’re at the bottom in voter turnout by design. Voter suppression is real. 🇺🇸🗳
-Suddenly Marsha and the Republicans pretend to care about the debt again, right as folks need help and they know a Dem may be in charge soon? REMINDER: Blackburn voted to blow a $2 TRILLION HOLE in the deficit to hand a tax cut to corporations and the wealthy even before the virus. Spare us. 🙄
-Chris Hayes said it best…
-HOLLER GRAPHIC OF THE DAY: Tennessee is #1 in MEDICAL BANKRUPTCIES… #1 in RURAL HOSPITAL CLOSURES per capita… We lose $1 BILLION EVERY YEAR we don’t EXPAND MEDICAID… Not expanding Medicaid is POLICY MURDER.
-Senator Lamar Alexander called the DOJ’s anti-Obamacare lawsuit that would rip coverage from millions “REALLY FLIMSY” 👀🔥
-The President of the United States shared a video which concluded there had been a “silent coup” attempted against him. This guy is reckless and dangerous in so many different ways.
-Cool news—TODAY at 11AM CST we’ll have Congressman Steve Cohen LIVE! Join on Twitter & Facebook. (Follow/Like our page to get reminded when we go live)
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We hope you all had a beautiful Mother’s Day.
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We had a chance to catch up with Memphis Democrat Rep. John Deberry Jr. by phone this morning. Deberry was the lone Dem to vote in favor of the Governor’s School Vouchers, and one of the only Dems to support the “Heartbeat Bill”, which sought to ban abortions after 6 weeks.
Deberry says he’s an “independent-minded” legislator, and says he wanted to talk to Speaker Casada in person before either calling for his resignation or supporting his continued leadership. (Here’s our new VIDEO of what has happened on Casada’s watch this session, as a refresher)
Q: Can you tell us your thoughts on the Speaker Casada situation, and whether or not you think he should resign?
JD: “I’m going to keep my comments pretty short and generic on it because I’ve been traveling a lot since the end of session making a living… I’ve read the comments and statements that have been made, but I haven’t talked to Speaker Casada himself. Until I talk to the speaker, until I look at him man to man, eyeball to eyeball and find out what he has to say about current events I don’t have a whole lot of opinion. Basically I think a whole lot has been said that is premature. I know that some of the things that have been done have been repugnant, and I’m quite sure he knows that also – and unacceptable, and I’m quite sure he knows that also – but here again I have worked with Speaker Casada ever since he came into the legislature as a Freshman. He was on my committee when I chaired Children and Family. So I will give him the benefit of talking to him man to man before I make any type of statements as to what his future, that he decides what his future ought to be.”
JD: “I’m not naive. I’m not saying I’ll approach him with any type of naiveté. I’ve been preaching for over 50 years, I’ve raised 2 children and I’ve dealt with all types of situations. Like I would do with any other individual that has been accused of something, I would give him the opportunity to explain. Whether I accept it or not would be my prerogative. I think he’s going to have a very difficult time explaining this away. I think he’s going to have a very difficult time regaining the trust of the public and of the legislature, and of his colleagues, and I think that’s going to be the test set before him in the coming days.”
JD: “It’s unacceptable, and I don’t think any of us condone it, but I’m not going to go on record and ask him to resign. I’m quite sure that it will be very difficult for him to survive it. And that’s what I will say.”
JD: “I haven’t made any type of vote, any type of collective statement with the Democratic caucus. My colleagues have the absolute right to think and say what they think and believe and say. I have always conducted myself in the legislature as a person who thinks independently and I try to look at situations on their merit. We’re all grown. We’re not naive. We know exactly what we’re looking at, and we know exactly what has to be done in order to correct the situation. The caucus has the absolute right to make those statements. So does the governor and everyone else. At the same time there is a human being involved here. And I am always – no matter who that person is, Republican or Democrat, I am always going to deal with that human being and try to do what I can to try to help them as they try to make that transition. If Speaker Casada resigns, he’s going to resign with at least one person trying to help him move on with life and be a better person and never make those mistakes again, and that’s the way I choose to approach it.”
JD: “I absolutely plan on talking with Speaker Casada. There’s no way something of this magnitude is going to happen without looking at him man to man and eyeball to eyeball and him understanding exactly where I stand. I do have a position. And it is not resignation or avoidance. It is simple that that’s the way I deal with people. I’ve been there for 25 years. I’ve watched men destroy themselves. We used to raise chickens on the farm. And when there was a spot on one chicken all the chickens pecked at it until the chicken was dead. It’s my responsibility as someone who’s been there, who’s senior, to step back and do everything I can to help the institution be better, and also help the person be better.”
JD: “I repudiate that behavior. I think that that was wrong. I’m not justifying any of this. I’m simply saying if I had an opportunity to deal with that young activist, I’m proud of him. I marched with Dr. King. I was there when he made his last speech. I dodged a billy club and dogs on Beale Street. So don’t think for one second that I don’t understand the wrong on that side also. I do. And I would love to have an opportunity to talk to that young man because I’m proud of his bravery. But I’m simply saying whoever I get a chance to talk to, I’m going to do what I can to be encouraging. And I hope this young man doesn’t stop being active and vocal.”
JD: “I think what we have seen in America, and in Tennessee, is a resurgence of the ugly head of prejudice and bigotry and speech that does not necessarily build the country. For the sake of the world America has to be strong, and we’re never strong when we come after each other the way we’ve done the past several years. People think it’s in style to say things that were not in style in the 70’s and 80’s after the Civil Rights movement… for some reason some think that it’s ok. So if our legislation reflects that, that’s something we’re going to have to step back and take a look at. The thing about the legislature is it’s dynamic. We’ve straightened up a bunch of messes over the years. And if we have to go back and re-examine some of the legislation, and stand and fight and make sure it does not work against activists like that young man or the nation as a whole I think most of us are ready to do that without apology and without shame.”
This week at a budget meeting in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee, Rep. John Deberry Jr (D-Memphis) questioned the need for the Tennessee Human Rights Commission which was established to uphold the rights of Tennessee’s minority and disability communities.