For more than a year-and-a-half, teachers and school staff have been maintaining an extremely difficult yet important job — educating our children and keeping them as safe as possible. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — or really, since the March 3 tornado that disrupted schools right before pandemic-related shutdowns — educators and support staff have had to act quickly, adjust to drastic changes and risk their health, all while teaching and caring for children as they face challenges of their own.
This work has been further complicated by politics. Several laws and executive orders have been created in Tennessee this year seeking to restrict what can be taught regarding race and limit the district’s ability to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (Metro Nashville Public Schools has continued to defy the governor and the legislature by requiring masks.) School board meetings have been a battleground for riled-up parents to challenge one another over these same topics.
At those same meetings, teachers and support staff have been speaking about their struggles and asking the district for help. Many of these employees, along with bus drivers, have also held rallies to get extra attention and demand more support as they’ve had to work extra to pick up the slack left by vacancies. They’ve been spread thin with little reward or acknowledgement. I wish I could give each and every one of them a bonus — or even just a gift card — so they can treat themselves to a nice, well-deserved meal. At the very least, I can say thank you.
Education Reporter, Nashville Scene