First, I want to thank Saebom SooHoo for guest-blogging about Pandemic Pods last week.
Apparently that was a very popular topic: twice as many people read that one than the one before! I thought more people would be like me, not having heard about pandemic pods, but apparently many have. (Yeah, I'm just not hip enough. :)
And many of you mentioned you feel torn: while you probably agree with the point Saebom raised about how Pandemic Pods increases inequity between families with means and those without, you also don't want your kids to fall behind. Only a few mentioned they've actually joined a pod. Two parents pointed out that as single parents, they would like more social support for remote learning, a very valid point. You can read more about all the comments here. (And apologies on not offering more choices in the polls, right now I can only support 4 options.)
Maybe we could all think about how to invite a parent or two in need into any social groups we form?
And wouldn't it be nice if the schools could just offer us high quality instruction virtually and nobody has to deal with podding?
Well, I think many of you have heard the big news this week. CEA the Cambridge teacher union came out strongly against the district fall reopening plan and instead for a fully remote start to the school year. Their open letter was signed by almost 600 teachers. Then a little later we heard that the start of any in-person class has been delayed to Oct. 13th at the earliest, probably due to the teacher union demand.
On both the CPS Parents mailing list and the Wechat parent group there were a lot of angry and hurt parents who felt disappointed by what they perceive as teachers not putting their kids' education first. I'm lucky that my work is remote for the rest of the year, so I can deal with having kids at home. Not everyone has that luxury of childcare.
And on the other hand, some teachers felt they were misunderstood and misjudged by parents of the kids they put so much their heart and soul to educate. I quote one teacher who pointed out remote teaching requires a huge amount of redesign, and how she felt " There is a general narrative in the press and on this list that educators are "self-interested." This is a heartbreaking narrative for those of us who have devoted our lives to the complex, underpaid, exhausting, but ultimately crucial calling of teaching young people. It's especially heartbreaking to hear this narrative in this moment, when we have been working ceaselessly since March 13 to meet the needs of students, working straight through April and summer vacations, living and breathing the design challenge of pandemic schooling."
The approved district plan decides for teachers whether they teach in person or not. This teacher was quite open to teaching in person herself, and suggested that teachers could have an option to teach in person vs. requiring. I was also reminded of a parent who teaches at a BU who mentioned that all BU faculty have a choice of whether to teach in person or not, and only 20% opted to do fully remote. Obviously if some teachers are older or have elderly parents or immune-compromised family members, making them teach in person seems inappropriate, and generally perhaps offering a choice would be better. But I do see from the district perspective that'd be hard to manage as well.
It's a hard problem and I know the district has already spent a lot of energy trying to address parents' concerns, and perhaps they need to do the same with the teachers. Man, I don't envy Superintendent Salim!
I'm troubled by how it seems like teachers and parents are seemingly pitted against each other now. I don't believe that tells the whole story: there could be much misunderstanding, and I do see some parents speaking out in support of the teachers. Obviously we all want the kids to be educated well, and everyone to be healthy. It's easy to perceive self interest or ill intent from the other side, but perhaps we could try to breathe and give each other the benefit of the doubt, and trust in the good intention. And find a good solution together, perhaps? I hope, with peace in my heart.