It’s important that teachers influence support for public education
As schools around the country close in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the implications of this strategy are only beginning to take shape. Unequal access to learning will be exacerbated as the digital divide makes it difficult to impossible for many students to continue in school. Younger students don’t have the skills to work independently, putting parents and caregivers in the position of taking over for teachers with homeschooling.
Fault lines are bound to open as the work of school shifts home and pressure increases on families and workplaces. The lack of consensus on how long school closures should continue and whether they are the best strategy likely will intensify disagreements over the role of school in educating and caring for children.
Inevitably these questions and conflicts will affect public perception of teachers and the work they do. This needs to be an urgent concern especially for public school teachers, staff and their allies. Labor tensions are already surfacing. From Amazon warehouses and cleaning crews to nurses in Sacramento and Los Angeles, workers are protesting work requirements and conditions in light of the threat of COVID-19 infection. Applications for unemployment benefits are rising and many predict much worse to come.