The national conversation about whether K-12 schools should re-open next month or in September has principally focused on two items: the science about whether it’s safe to re-open and the internal struggle many parents have as they choose what’s best for their child(ren).
Missing in that conversation: What happens if a whole lot of teachers, regardless of how long they’ve served in that role, opt to walk away?
One survey (granted, only one) found that almost 1-in-5 teachers would quit if their school was to open in the fall, and that figure is in-in-4 teachers who are over 55.
The head of the American Federation of Teachers has suggested those men and women aren’t bluffing; and absent real safeguards, they’ll walk.
Let’s leave out of the discussion right now whether it’s safe for students to return to K-12 classrooms. All of us must consider what happens to the QUALITY of education if experienced teachers leave the profession. The “brain drain” would be apparent and the loss of “institutional knowledge” wouldn’t be easily replaced. You may chose to support those teachers who leave or you may think they’re simplistic fools, but know this: Your child’s learning might very well be negatively affected.
And, yes, I know there are college faculty — full-time and most especially part-time (almost none of whom have a benefits package from the universities where they teach) — facing the same decision if their institution is open.
The conversation about coronavirus should be about how many people might die or get sick or recover or infect others. And it also should be about livelihoods that could be destroyed because individuals believe they don’t have much of a say in what will happen over the next few weeks.