Who's Going to Tell Schools We're in a Pandemic?

teachers, students, parents, voters, this is your rally call

ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to, something to read, and something to listen to. Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, neighborhood spies, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.
Award-winning Texas high school teacher Aletha Williams stands for a portrait wearing a Black Educators Matter t-shirt. Photo courtesy of Aletha Williams, 2020.

SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO

Back-to-school is here and teachers are afraid, parents are overwhelmed, and my own middle schooler is uncharacteristically surly.

If last spring was hard on the school-aged set or anyone who cares for a student (or hundreds of them), then the wind up to this fall has been an absolute disaster of dread and chaos.

I have been talking with Texas high school teacher Aletha Williams since the early days of Covid-19 in an effort to capture a slice of what it’s like to love your work and your students, but be afraid for your life. The result is this EdSurge story and 6-minute audio feature: ‘We Signed Up to Be Teachers. We Didn’t Sign Up for a Death Sentence.’.

Like the rest of the American school system, I have no perfect solutions to offer, but I do know this: teachers need support right now. One place to start is by making sure their voices from the frontlines are heard. Please listen and share.

SOMETHING TO READ

Expecting nearly 17,000 hormonal and newly-liberated young people in their late teens/early 20’s to practice social distancing is hilarious. However, Baylor University, a private Christian university also in Texas, did not think this was funny when they invited students back to campus to kick off the new school year amidst a global health crisis.

If the rise of positive cases of Covid-19 that spread across the school last month started to clue Baylor in on the joke, then the University is really laughing now: their two Brand Ambassadors(!?)—Mormon twin undergrads named Brooklyn and Bailey—have both contracted the virus.

Anne Helen Petersen’s welcome the covid influencer is a fascinating deep dive into both the prickly world of universities #sponsoring students, and also into the ways that some schools are putting profit over people during a literal pandemic.

SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO

Teachers, students, parents, voters, residents of the United States of America, if you were waiting for things to hit a certain fever pitch in order to speak up, that time has arrived.

This animated 7-minute TED-Ed lesson on how to understand power by Citizen University founder Eric Liu is your rally call. Let’s go.

STAY SAFE OUT THERE

That’s a wrap for issue number 6. Thanks for listening/reading/holding on. We’re building a community of misfits and unlikely optimists and all of you are part of what’s getting me through this Uncertain Time™ for sure. If it’s helping you get through too, please share this issue with your curious friends or tweet us some love.

See you next Thursday.

K.

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