Accountability Health Safety

Mitchell Robinson: If You Want Schools to Reopen, First Make Them Safe for Students and Teachers

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Mitchell Robinson is a professor of music education at Michigan State University who writes frequently about K-12 issues.

In this post, he explains what is necessary for schools to reopen.

The solution isn’t rushing to open schools before they are safe–the solution is for Congress to pass a stimulus package large enough and bold enough to pay people to *not* go to work, and that provides bonus/hazard pay for those who *do* need to work–health care workers, public safety personnel (fire and police), grocery store workers, etc.

And that stimulus package also must provide the federal and state resources to actually *do* something about making schools safe, which to my knowledge has happened in very few places. It’s not enough for school districts to “encourage” their employees to get vaccinated–school systems should be proactively securing enough vaccine doses for all employees to get two shots, and immediately set up the infrastructure for that to happen.

Now, what are the chances of that occurring? Slim and zero.

Because you can not systematically defund public schools for decades, eliminate teaching positions, school nurses, counselors, psychologists, and other support staff from school budgets, and fail to maintain school facilities, while simultaneously increasing class sizes, cutting health care and retirement benefits for school employees, lowering standards for who becomes a teacher, increasing the number of charter schools that compete for tax dollars, and implement voucher programs and “tax credit” schemes that function exactly like vouchers, and then expect public schools to function like well-funded, adequately resourced public institutions.

Shaming teachers and blaming unions won’t work.

Schools must be safe.

Then they can reopen.

So far, no one has been willing to pay the price.

If they are serious, they will.

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