It's Education Week: consider less criticism and more gratitude

Star Herald Editorial

Have you thanked a teacher lately? If not, you should. And while you're at it, you might thank a school administrator, support staff and school board member.

Few people are undertaking the challenges these folks face on a daily basis.

They literally have the lives of our children in their hands, yet we often don’t consider what that’s like and what it means for the individuals on the job at school.

This week is American Education Week, and given the pandemic atmosphere in our school hallways, classrooms and board rooms, it might be a good time for a little more gratitude and a little less criticism.

It’s always a good thing to have parents and community members involved in students and contributing to discussion about the district’s wellbeing.

We’ve watched the conversation about masks and vaccines unfold in local media and in public listening sessions, and it’s clear that our parents and community members very much care about our students.

But what about our teachers and staff?

How are they affected by the policies and decisions that affect their classrooms? Ultimately, they’re on the front lines of pandemic-related outcomes, but it seems their voices in the discussion are relatively muted.

Rules are made and our teachers and staff implement them. … and live with the consequences of dozens of students in close quarters wearing no face coverings. Despite vaccines, Covid exposures have sickened several teachers and staff, some of them for weeks at a stretch.

Would they have contracted the virus among a masked student body? Maybe, maybe not.

But caving to parents’ demands to remove a mask requirement in school was essentially a decision to increase teachers’ exposure and their odds for being harmed.

Teachers’ work is demanding enough outside of a pandemic environment. Many of us wouldn’t last a day in their shoes. Expecting them to perform their duties — shaping the lives of our children — without basic protections is expecting a lot.

Our district leaders had reasons for the decisions they’ve made under pressure, so this isn’t a time to lament water under the bridge.

During National Education Week, we can at the very least be grateful … for caring and attentive teachers and staff and for sincere, well-intentioned administrators and board members at the helm of a ship in very stormy waters.

Comment Here