Trumpsters are Furious Over My Refusal to Sacrifice Students to the Economy

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You can’t make this stuff up!

 

I published an article yesterday on my blog with the title “You Can’t Have My Students’ Lives to Restart Your Economy.” 

 

In it, I criticized Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and a Walton Family Foundation advisor who lambasted social distancing efforts as a response to the Coronavirus global pandemic, especially here in the United States. To varying degrees, they each thought it was acceptable to sacrifice children’s safety by reopening schools early if it would get businesses back up and running again.

 

I think that’s beyond ridiculous.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

 

The rich need the poor to get back to work. And they’re willing to put our lives on the line to do it.

 

What’s worse, they’re willing to put our children’s lives on the line.

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to risk my daughter’s life so that the stock market can open back up.

 

As a public school teacher, I’m not willing to bet my students lives so that the airlines and cruise industry can get back in the green.

 

Nor am I willing to gamble with my own life even if it means the NBA, NFL and MLB can start playing games and Hollywood can start premiering first run movies again.

 

 

My article seemed pretty reasonable to me, as it has to the more than 17,000 people who have read it since I first hit publish about 24 hours ago.

 

However, on Twitter, there was a vocal minority who took issue with me.

 

Someone from an account I won’t name (though he has more than 65,000 followers and the word “Libertarian” in his handle) retweeted my blog with the following comment:

 

“For the love of God. Students are more at risk of losing their homes and watching their parents split up or succumb to addiction or depression over losing their jobs than they are at risk of ever contracting this virus.”

 

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He had lots of folks who agreed with him.

 

Their comments seemed to fit into two categories:  (1) quarantine sucks, or (2) they’re MY kids you stoopid gubmint Skool teacher!

 

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At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of such comments.

 

How can anyone really be against keeping children safe from a deadly virus?

 

After some soul searching, I decided to reply:

 

Hey XXX thanks for sharing my blog post to so many people who probably would not have seen it otherwise. However, I think your criticism is unfounded. You seem to be saying that quarantine sucks. Yes, it DOES suck. But putting kids lives at risk is worse…

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…While it’s true that kids are often asymptomatic, they do get COVID-19 and become carriers. If we reopen the schools too soon, most kids won’t die, but they’ll bring the virus home to mom, dad and the grandparents who are much more susceptible…

 

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…What’s worse is that when you get COVID-19 you’re often asymptomatic for the first week or so. Even adults become carriers though they have a greater chance of eventually getting much worse. That’s why we’re doing social distancing now – to stop the spread…

 

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…We want to give hospitals a chance to treat sick people as they come in and not all at once. Even discounting the effect on children, schools are staffed by adults – many over 55 and with existing health conditions. It’s unfair to make them risk their lives…

 

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…Teachers shouldn’t have to risk their lives – and their families lives – to do their jobs. Seems to me that’s actually a pretty libertarian position. Your political freedom and autonomy seem pretty constrained in a coffin. Thanks for listening.

 

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I don’t know if it will do any good, but I thought the readers of my blog might like to know about it.

 

After all, if there’s anything more viral than COVID-19, it’s ignorance.

 


 

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I’ve also written a book, “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform,” now available from Garn Press. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the Badass Teachers Association. Check it out!

 

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If One More White Person Asks Me to Condemn the Baltimore Riots…

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It started as soon as I got to work.

“Bet you’re glad the history club isn’t going to Baltimore this year!”

A comment between two social studies teachers. Nudge. Nudge.

I moved on to my morning duty and a science teacher asked me, “How about all that looting and rioting in Baltimore?”

Smirk. Chuckle. Conspiratorial tone.

Then at lunch, they were talking about a “hilarious” video where a black mother was yelling and hitting her son for being part of the riots.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Am I the only white person who doesn’t need reassured?

Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re asking for confirmation, comfort, soothing.

It’s not white people’s fault. It’s those uppity… uh… black people.

Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died under mysterious circumstances two weeks ago in Baltimore police custody.

His spine was allegedly “80% severed” at his neck. He had three fractured vertebrae, and his larynx was injured.

Police say he was arrested without any violence. Bystanders say he was beaten with batons. A cell phone video shows him being dragged into custody while in visible agony.

And what did he do to attract police attention? He met an officer’s eyes and then ran. After tackling him to the ground, the police found a knife on him.

And now he’s dead.

It doesn’t take much to see why people are upset – especially people of color.

Yet another police encounter that leaves an African American dead with no provocation.

Peaceful protests took place on Saturday and no one paid much attention. Some protestors turned violent by Sunday and the story suddenly became those crazy black folks are destroying their own communities again.

And every white face I see wants me to join in the condemnation.

It’s the black people’s fault. They keep acting out.

What does this solve? What does it prove?

PLEASE! Do not assume that a lack of melanin in my cheeks means a lack of common sense.

Freddie Gray’s death is not an “excuse” to riot. No one sits around all day checking the headlines for a reason to go wild and set cars on fire. That kind of violence doesn’t just turn on at the flip of a switch.

It’s a slow burn in the pit of your belly, quietly consuming your insides until there’s no recourse left that makes sense. All you can do is scream and go crazy for a while.

Everyone’s done it. After a particularly bad day, the garbage disposal won’t open, so you kick it. You get some terrible news and scream at the neighbor’s dog.

You get it out. You take it out – usually on someone or something that doesn’t deserve it. Often hilariously so. The garbage disposal had nothing to do with my bad day. The neighbor’s dog didn’t cause my bad news.

It’s called being human. Looting and rioting are a more extreme version of the same thing. They don’t solve anything. But how dare you say you don’t understand!

Black people – especially men – are being murdered, and our justice system seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

Maybe there’s some strange extenuating circumstance that exonerates police in Gray’s death. But I doubt it. Even if they had nothing to do with his injuries, they certainly should have gotten him medical attention immediately after the arrest.

They are culpable. They were wrong.

Why can’t white people admit it?

We’re so afraid if we acknowledge white folks have done any wrong to black folks, it will start some kind of moral accountancy. Once we start, we’ll have to go through the racial debt point-by-point.

Freddie Gray will lead to Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. That will lead to unfair incarceration rates and sentencing. That will lead to Jim Crow laws. And before you know it, we’ll be talking about S-L-A-V-E-R-Y.

Can’t have that! It might make white people feel bad.

Some of us already feel bad. We feel bad that our black brothers and sisters have to keep putting up with defensive, frightened white people.

I am not afraid of black people. They are my friends, my neighbors, my students.

I am not afraid of exposing grievances. The truth deserves to be told.

I love black people. I love justice. And I want it for all of us.


NOTE: This article also was published in the LA Progressive and the Badass Teachers Association blog.