Not the Best in the World

A long time ago I had a few posts about education go viral. In one of the posts I said something about the USA, the best country in the world. And several people took me to task. They said they agreed with everything else I’d written, but the way US citizens like me felt like our country was the best in the world and said it so freely despite evidence to the contrary was indicative of an attitude that would destroy us one day.

I apologized then. The internet is huge and people from all over the world see posts sometimes. I never really thought about that.

Now I just want to say those people were so right. Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK chimed in back then.

Now here we are with exploding COVID cases and all those countries have it under control. We have half the population calling the virus a hoax, refusing the wear masks, and swearing they know better than doctors and scientists.

We have people going broke over healthcare and being evicted in the middle of all this, and our government is trying to end the ACA.

This is sad. It was preventable.

I sure hope we vote the Trumpists out of office in November.

COVID still raging

If I see one more post saying teachers are heroes and we can handle reopening schools in Texas where we are setting record numbers for cases and hospitalizations, I’m going to scream.

Teachers aren’t heroes. We are people. And we aren’t your sacrificial lambs.

If and when we go back into the classroom during this outbreak, you need to know some of us will absolutely die because that’s the nature of COVID.

Our classrooms are enclosed spaces. Many are without windows. We don’t have giant COVID killing ventilation. I don’t even know if that’s a thing.

I do know I am so torn right now. I want to see my students. I want to teach FOR REAL, face to face, exciting, fun lessons.

But I also want to live.

Let’s face it. It DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. But our President refused to wear a mask and said this was all a hoax and fake news. Then our governor who had a plan based on science threw the plan out after a visit to the White House and a salon owner showed the law means nothing if you’re white and beautiful. We opened up, Abbott overruled local mitigation efforts, and here we are living the Patrick Plan of Die for the Dollar.

So yeah, it didn’t have to be this way. But it is.

TEA has said we have to open. God bless the school leaders trying to find the best, safest way to make this happen.

But none of us are heroes. We’re teachers. And it’s a crying shame Commissioner Morath is willing to sacrifice us.

Crappy first draft done

I couldn’t write when the pandemic started. I planned it, even carted my computer with me to our Spring Break trips.

But once the lockdown was in place I couldn’t: no sleep, constant worry. Especially since the week before I’d flown to Cleveland and back.

Once spring break was over I focused solely on the yearbook. It was awful to do the work from home, but looking back, I’m thankful I had the distraction.

I thought I’d get back to my steamy hockey romance after the book was done, but no. Instead I fought on Facebook with people who said masks were dumb and COVID wasn’t that bad.

Then the protests against police brutality started.

I watched the news for hours.

School was done, summer break started and I was stunned day after day by what I was seeing play out on screen.

I’d written some words. Not a lot, but my writers group met on Zoom pretty often so I had some. And I had the complete novel plotted.

And in the midst of the madness I decided I wanted to remember a different time, a different place. I wanted happily ever after.

I couldn’t get that on Facebook or twitter. I couldn’t get that watching police tear gas peaceful protestors. I couldn’t get that wishing for playoff season.

So I started writing.

And this morning at 2 a.m. I finished a crappy first draft.

My plan is to have it revised and ready to go by next beach season.

I actually plan to relaunch my writing career then. One women’s fiction a year and three steamy romances.

Wish me luck.

The Dan Patrick Plan

Teachers, it was nice knowing ya. Thank you for your patriotism. If you die, know it was for the good of the billionaires who continue earning bank during this hellscape called COVID-19.

We’re opening schools.

It will be “safe” but no masks and no testing required.

Thank ya. Good luck making it through while we run with the far right ideology of herd immunity.

Not the science. Who cares what docs say? Parents got to go to work, so schools will open.

I feel so stupid for thinking back when Patrick first told us all we’d be happy to die for the cause of capitalism run amok that people would say no way, stay home and wear masks if they had to go out.

This is going to be a nightmare.

We’re going to do it as best we can.

Fellow teachers, especially all of us over 50, may the odds be ever in our favor.

***do not yell at school admin. They’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got. The state took the CARES Act funding they thought they were getting, and the state is dictating all of this while giving little direction. You want to fix things? Vote for politicians who support public education. If you need help knowing who they are, check out Texans For Public Education.

Nope

I can’t believe I thought I’d find a way to get through my anger. That I thought I could meditate and pray and get enough sleep and I’d be fine again.

That was before George Floyd. That was before Trump cleared peaceful protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets for a photo in front of a church he doesn’t attend with a bible he has never read.

What was I thinking?

Trump and his followers are awful and the Republicans must be defeated in November and I’m just going to embrace the angry to help keep me motivated to DO SOMETHING every day to vote them out of office.

I can’t believe we moved from the great President Obama and the human rights advances to this awful, awful man.

All this and COVID is flaring again. COVID. The “hoax.”

I sure hope people vote like their lives depend on it.

Year 26 Done

In the midst of chaos I finished year 26. I attended graduation and enjoyed seeing and talking to people while also practicing social distancing.

Masks are hot. Way hotter than I expected. That’s my takeaway from this week of wearing a mask every day for at least three hours. Teaching in one will be tough, but I’ll do it.

Pandemic, protests and riots, graduation. I’m glad this school year is over, but I will miss these seniors. I pray for our nation.

This is the reality of living in a nation where division is a constant. That has to end. I hope people will vote this man out of office.

I’m terrified of the COVID numbers in two weeks.

Minnesota Burning

I accidentally watched the murder of George Floyd.

I knew about it. My heart was broken. But I was busy with yearbooks and I didn’t watch the news until I sat down that day. And right when I sat, they rolled the video.

I heard him pleading and told Brian to turn the station. Turn it. Turn it. Turn it. I covered my ears and tried not to throw up as I tried not to process the reality of a man being killed by a policeman on screen in front of me.

His voice still haunts me.

I hope it always will.

Because that will make me act. I need to act because I can close my eyes and cover my ears and live with the haunting voice begging for his life. But a lot of people can’t. My black friends live with the knowledge that this could be them, could be their sons and daughters, their husbands or wives, their grandmothers. They can’t just say turn it off.

I read White Fragility this year. It’s not enough, but I’m working on understanding my privilege and ending systemic racism.

Last night and tonight Minneapolis burns as rioters express their rage with a system that allows this to happen again and again and again, often without justice.

It’s heartbreaking and awful to watch. It’s terrible.

And yet.

Something has to change. Systemic racism, police brutality against black people. It can’t continue.

Praying for peace. Praying for love. Praying for change. We have to change this, white people. We have to.

It’s Different

Walking into the scene shop to get started organizing yearbooks, my breath caught and I had to swallow tears. Usually opening the boxes is one of the most joyful moments of the year. There’s music and dancing and awe when the editors have the staff gather round for the unveiling.

The editors take the staff through page by page and tell them stories, and we laugh, even over the pages that made us cry.

And then the kids alphabetize the yearbook boxes, find their books and pour over the pages for an hour. After that we have our awards ceremony and eat.

Then it’s more organizing followed by the staff signing party.

Kids are in and out because they have tests or makeup work or projects to present. The room is constant activity. Constant music—sometimes I have to say “hey, language in the newsroom,” and we laugh and laugh and laugh.

Then we open the doors for early distribution and the signing party.

Sometimes there’s cake.

This year it’s me and DH, and it’s all task oriented. Do this, do that, get done.

Distribution starts Tuesday and runs 3 hours a day through Friday.

I have no idea what to expect.

I don’t have those feel-good moments of watching my editors open their books for the first time. I don’t have video of them going through page by page. I don’t have the happy to get me through the complaints that are simply part of the publication process.

Or the memories of the staff as they look trough their books. This year’s book is the biggest ever for CTHS at 255 pages. The staff would have loved that celebration.

I know I need to shift my mindset. To embrace the happy that happened. But this is hard.

I’m thankful to DH. For 21 years he’s offered to help with yearbooks. Today he got to do it!

I’m so proud of my editors who can’t be with me today but who worked SO HARD. They completed over 100 pages at home in a month on little laptops in quarantine. A parent emailed me in April to see if we were even going to have a yearbook since school closed and nothing happened. I was able to say “oh, no. We had a year and a lot happened. And the end looked different, but we still have a book. And the book even covers the end.” We have four spreads of National COVID coverage—thanks Walsworth— and two spreads of CTHS coverage done with help from all my classes. That’s a victory, a huge thing to be happy over!

I’m so thankful to my school and the support they’ve shown.

One more week.

It’s not the book we planned exactly, some pages had to be replaced, but it will always be the most memorable. And through the bad—thanks Coronavirus—there were some really great moments.

DH helping with yearbooks. ❤️💜💛

We Don’t Know

I just read these words and they struck a chord.

We don’t know. By we I mean the regular old everyday folks. Not the doctors and epidemiologists and that doc in Houston who went to Asia to learn how to fight SARS and says he’s a COVIDOLOGIST now and none of the 50+ patients in his little hospital have died.

He knows, maybe. They know, sort of.

But most of us don’t know. At all.

And that’s why I’ll wear a mask when I’m out.

I don’t know.

I’m a journalism teacher. I know NOTHING about this except what I read in newspapers and hear Dr. Fauci tell us.

It’s one of those what if it’s right things for me. And I’ll gladly continue hoping the mask is right because Dr. Fauci said now it is and he wore one today for the press conference.

That’s it. That’s enough for me.

Edited to add. They probably know. They’re warning us. Man, this is hard.

We Don’t Have To Be Constantly Aware

It’s hard to break a news addiction.

But I’m trying.

DH turns the news on and keeps it on all day. Unless Ancient Aliens is on. AA marathon, all bets are off. Lol.

Honestly I didn’t know how much news my husband consumed until quarantine. I’m a fan of the news. A big fan. But right now, leaving the TV on the news is not okay. It’s awful to watch the COVID numbers increase, to hear the President say something ridiculous like we don’t need to test because if we don’t test our numbers won’t be so high, to see people storming capitols with guns, to watch a black man gunned down on his daily jog…the list goes on. When the news is on all morning, the list is long and enraging.

I’m working on breaking my news addiction. And it’s working.

What we’re doing instead of watching the news: music. iTunes is outstanding and we’ve listened to so many different artists lately. Our favorite right now is Nora Jones.

That’s where we are. I need to break the constant news habit before summer. Right now I have classes and grading to take me away, but once we get to summer…oh boy.