Nobody Trusts Teachers…It Took a Pandemic For Us To Really Understand This

Imagine a snowy Wednesday morning in February–a scheduled remote teaching day and a day following an actual, old school type of snow day.  
Now imagine teachers driving on those snow-covered roads to teach via Google Meets in empty classrooms. Click To Tweet
Picture many of those same teachers scrambling for child care because the district in which they live closed school, but the community they teach in tells them they either report to the building or take a personal day. These teachers cannot instruct from home, except if they are mandated quarantine due to a raging pandemic. 
Why do teachers lack flexibility on these Wednesdays? They report to the buildings on all other days to don masks and teach those in-person students simultaneously with those on their computer screens (or second monitors they purchased themselves so that they could see their students and their lessons while instructing)?
Nobody trusts teachers.
The union leaders tell them it is because the district will not make teachers teach from home. The union leaders claim that this is positive and that the district allowed three snow days instead of remote teaching days for inclement weather. The administrators explain to the teachers that the union has not negotiated work from home. Teachers must forfeit sick days and learning time if they decide to choose their safety over policy.
Imagine people prioritizing safety and still getting their jobs done! The nerve of those professionals to think they could work from home and meet their obligations to students! Other occupations that work remotely are slick and 21st Century; teachers are lazy and vital public servants who better get their butts in gear to open up those buildings. 
Those teacher unions in Chicago misunderstand the role of schools in American society; schools are daycare centers so that essential workers can keep the cogs of capitalism moving. How dare teachers threaten to strike unless they receive personal protective equipment, proper classroom ventilation, and vaccination preference!  
Nobody trusts teachers.
Teachers do not deserve flexibility and grace during a pandemic or a Noreaster. Like all workers, teachers require safe working conditions, adequate public school resources, and salaries commensurate with their education, but they receive none of these.
America offers them their children, but not its respect. 
America cries crocodile tears upon hearing a report of a beloved educator dying from the virus.  
The New York Times reported that “Nearly Half of U.S. states allow teachers to get shots.”  The title is misleading and needs a rewrite to “Only half of U.S. states allow teachers to get shots.” Not surprisingly, the states who are not prioritizing teacher vaccinations historically pay their teachers very little, and many are right to work states, which outlaw collective bargaining. 
Nobody trusts teachers.
If trust in teachers were high, the question of standardized tests during a pandemic, or at all, would be moot. Instead, states are requesting waivers from the federal requirements–requirements put in place by the Obama administration–to stop the ridiculous collection of data from students as young as eight-years-old.   
The teaching to the test model had become so institutionalized some teachers (including myself) were sad when the New York State Regents Exams were canceled last spring. In New York State, teachers earn a score based on observations and test scores–these numbers determine an educator’s annual professional performance review (APPR). Teachers are deemed highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective based on rubrics and measures dictated by politicians and other experts. Since 2010, teachers in New York and other states (as part of the Race To The Top scheme) have proved their worth based on students’ ability to bubble in answers. Not only has crucial learning been lost, we now have a teacher shortage. Why would our best young minds (traditionally female) want to enter a profession where one must sacrifice so much while being held, suspect?
Nobody trusts teachers.
How many educators shied away from discussing the events of January 6, 2021?  
How many teachers refrained from discussing the Biden inauguration?   
How many were scared to face parental backlash from Trump-supporting families? 
Although teachers, especially social studies teachers, missed vital learning opportunities, many teachers lacked support from their school leaders to discuss hard things. The possible negative consequences outweighed significant civic engagement. 
Nobody trusts teachers.
Please do not come at me with praise or comments, like “But, I do!” Refrain from telling teachers, “I just don’t know how you do it.”
Stop calling teachers vital public servants.  
Keep your teacher appreciation gifts.  
Every heartfelt phrase and coffee mug received perpetuates America’s abusive relationship with its teachers, especially its public school educators.  
The pandemic has shined a glaring spotlight on the cold hard truth:  
Nobody trusts teachers.

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