A Chicago public school teacher says that in-person schooling amid the COVID-19 pandemic permits "nice white parents" to kill black families.
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In an essay published Monday in the Education Post, Chicago public school teacher Mike Friedberg said that the city is catering to white parents' demands in reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The essay, titled, "Are We Going to Let 'Nice White Parents' Kill Black and Brown Families?" explained how Friedberg feels that white people are comfortable sacrificing the lives of black and brown families in order to force a return to a normal way of life.
"A new COVID-19 strain is more contagious than ever," he wrote. "The Trump administration's sheer neglect in the face of this deadly pandemic is enraging. Federal inaction has cost lives, and we are far from getting back to a daily normal life. Schools are no exception to this situation. Given the plans to offer vaccines to teachers over the next several weeks, it does not make sense now to force children and staff back into the building."
Friedberg added, "Students, parents, and teachers are fearing for their lives," and pointed out that the city is "catering to the [white] minority of parents" who demand school reopening.
"As the reopening debate gets hotter," he explained, "we are seeing a new breed of 'nice white parents' emerge. The parents who wished to open school buildings are disproportionately white. In meeting after meeting, I have witnessed black and Latinx parents voice concerns."
Recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that "students and teachers may be able to safely return to in-person instruction, even in communities with widespread coronavirus infection" so long as safety practices — including masking, social distancing, and proper disinfection protocols — are put in place.
Friedberg argued, however, that many Chicago-area schools are not "adequately equipped to take all the necessary preventative and protective measures."
"Here in Chicago, I have spoken with scores of teachers who do not have adequate HVAC systems in their buildings," he explained. "Some teachers were given air purifiers that only cover 500 square feet, vastly smaller than most classrooms. ... If we open schools in communities with higher positivity rates, especially when those schools are not adequately supplied with protective measures, the risk to staff, students, and families is much higher."
He added, "I do not want to risk my students' lives or my own."
Making an argument for remote learning, Friedberg said that he and his colleagues have been "working harder than ever" in order to deliver students and their families "high-quality instruction."
"Students can still learn remotely and have an engaging, rigorous curriculum," he added. "As an instructor, this is what I'm doing for my students, including focusing on research-based student choice activities. As a parent, that is what I am witnessing for my own children."
Friedberg pointed out that if people kowtow to the demands of white parents, then those voices will be placed above the demands of those from black and brown parents.
"Are we really at a point where not wanting our students to die, and not wanting to die ourselves, is a point of debate?" he asked. "This is completely absurd. We are putting the voices of white parents above black and brown parents, as well as teachers and all school staff, including disproportionately women of color."
He concluded, "As a teacher, I fear for my own life and the lives of my students and their families. I can't teach from the grave, nor can kids learn from there. If we do not speak up, nice white parents will get us killed."
(H/T: The College Fix)