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“ ‘Teachers want to teach, not die, and we should support and protect them like the national treasures that they are. For without them, where would we be? May we show these tireless altruists a little altruism in return. I would for my favorite teacher. Wouldn’t you?’ ”
That’s how Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, in an audio version of his “Dave’s True Stories” series, concluded his passionate defense of teachers who are facing the “daunting and evermore politicized question of reopening our schools in the coronavirus pandemic.”
Grohl explained how he was a lousy student growing up in Fairfax County, Va., where he dropped out the 11th grade to follow his dreams of becoming a rock star.
“So, with me being a high school dropout, you’d imagine the current debate surrounding the reopening of schools wouldn’t register so much a blip on my rock-and-roll radar, right? Wrong,” Grohl said. “My mother was a public school teacher,” who needed to pick up side gigs to help supplement the $35,000 a year she was earning at the time.
These days, it’s not just low pay that teachers are confronting.
There’s a whole new set of dilemmas, as laid out by Grohl’s mom, now 82 and retired. “She runs down a list of concerns based on her 35 years of experience: masks and distancing, temperature checks, crowded bussing, crowded hallways, sports, air-conditioning systems, lunchrooms, public restrooms, janitorial staff,” Grohl said. “Most schools already struggle from a lack of resources. How can they possibly afford the mountain of safety measures that will need to be in place?”
Remote learning, despite the “technological and social issues,” he said, is the solution for now.
“As much as Donald Trump’s conductor-less orchestra would love to see the country reopen schools in the name of rosy optics, ask a science teacher what they think about White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s comment that ‘Science should not stand in the way,’” Grohl said. “It would be foolish to do so at the expense of our students, teachers and school.”
He also slammed “failed leadership” as politicians with no experience in the classroom are calling the shots for teachers event though they can’t possibly relate to the challenges.
“I wouldn’t trust the U.S. secretary of percussion to tell me how to play ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ if they had never sat behind a drum set, so why should any teacher trust Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to tell them how to teach, without her ever having sat at the head of a class?” he said. “Until you’ve spent countless days in a classroom devoting your time and energy to becoming that lifelong mentor to generations of otherwise disengaged students, you must listen to those who have.”
Listen to his whole take:
Grohl isn’t the only one criticizing DeVos, who is the face of the Trump administration’s aggressive push to restart in-person schooling this fall. “I wouldn’t trust you to care for a house plant, let alone my child,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in this tweet after DeVos made her case on CNN last week.
Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Katie Porter, both California Democrats, said in a letter earlier this month that they were “deeply disappointed” by the lack of federal reopening guidelines for school districts. “You have wasted months, without apparently joining forces to conduct science-based research on the best ways to re-open schools or continue educating students,” they said.
While some argue children appear to be less at risk of catching and spreading COVID-19, Israel recently saw a nationwide spike in cases after reopening its schools.