This week has felt like another turning point in the nightmare those of us in the United States are currently living through, and I wanted to check with everyone and see how you’re all doing. Amid the continued racial injustice (specifically, the pathetic ruling in the killing of Breonna Taylor), the continued devastation as a result of our ongoing climate crisis, the attempted theft at the hands of the GOP of a Supreme Court seat, and the sudden uptick in Covid cases after weeks of a decrease, we have a president who has now made explicit what so many of us already expected: He has no intention of peacefully transferring the power of the presidency despite whatever the election results may be.
In my own personal life, this week has marked my kids’ return to school. Here in NYC, our public schools are attempting what none of the other 11 largest school districts in the country have yet attempted: They are opening classrooms for in-person learning. While school buildings are opening, there are plenty of reasons to avoid sending our kids inside of them. The old buildings lack adequate ventilation systems (teachers and staff returning to work have reported broken exhaust fans, windows that barely open or don’t open at all, and a lack of PPE and cleaning supplies), kids will be forced to avoid socializing at all costs (including no recess and having “learning lunches” where they will eat while a teacher gives them a lesson), and some children as young as four years old will be asked to bring devices to school to do remote learning in their classrooms. While some families are so desperate for childcare that they have no choice but to send their kids to school, others are luckier to have some options. We fall in the latter camp and have opted for the fully remote model of learning that NYC is offering. My kids will be safe, but in exchange, they will get only one hour of live instruction a day and will share their one teacher each with 50+ students. (Creating two models of learning—one for in-person and one for remote—has created an enormous teacher shortage, so the remote classes are growing to unconscionable sizes).
I have spent my week giving my kids as much attention and focus as I can, essentially becoming both a kindergarten teacher and a 4th grade teacher (though, admittedly, the 4th grader has gotten a bit more attention this week because he has so many more assignments he needs help completing). When I haven’t been busy with them, I’ve been reaching out to every reporter and journalist I can track down who covers education in the city. I’ve had interviews with reporters at several media outlets, including the New York Times, because what else do I have but my voice?
So … I’m sorry I haven’t been able to give much attention to this space, but I know you all understand and that your use and enjoyment of the community here isn’t solely dependent on my presence anyway. Next week we have a part-time tutor starting with us a few hours a week to give me a little relief and the kids some more targeted focus and instruction. I hope in those hours, I will be able to devote a little more attention here. In the meantime, how have you been? How is your week? How’s your mental health?
PS A friend shared this on FB and it really resonated with me. Maybe you’ll appreciate it too.