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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Pandemic Teaching and Learning: Should I stay or Should I go?


Teaching and Learning in a Pandemic Crisis,
Teaching and Learning in a Moral Crisis,
Teaching and Learning in a world of haters,
Teaching and learning in budget cuts, upon budget cuts,
Teaching and learning in a world of science deniers,
Teaching and Learning in a world of history deniers,
Teaching and Learning in a world of declining wages, benefits, and respect for teachers.

Teaching and Learning in a time where CEOs and Policy Makers work day and night to reduce our children test scores,
Teaching and Learning in the nation that spends more money to educate our wealthy children than our poor children,
Teaching and Learning in a country refusing to ask Millionaires and Billionaires to pay their fair share.

Teaching and Learning in our nation that is perfectly fine with a School To Prison Pipeline for Black, Brown and Special Education Children,
Teaching and Learning where the once numerous future teacher pools are drying up,
Teaching and Learning during a teacher shortage problem exacerbated tenfold by a mass exodus of Fed Up Retiring Teachers.

Rome is burning, America's commitment to public education is falling far short.
Looking around, some of my best teachers, young and old, are leaving. The number of future teachers is dropping in my courses at the University.
Who Wants to be a teacher in this world?

Just about everyone who can retire at our university, like many other universities, is leaving. Lots of fear going round leave now or watch them reduce your health care benefits. I am losing some of my dearest colleagues.
Should I stay or should I go?

I pull from my well of aspirations that held me strong through decades of teaching.
I remember being young, running around those mean streets, and being fearless. I drink from my well of memories. Father Fitzgerald read a poem once. He read the Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay. He told us to sit down on these church steps. Fellers, this one is long. There once was this Captain on a bridge facing unbeatable foes, a captain whose beloved city those foes wanted to burn.
What was his name, Father?

He was Brave Horatius, Captain of the Gate, and while the lords and nobles of his city could not decide what to do as a massive army stood across the bridge to their beloved city. Hateful vengeful foes demanding their unconditional surrender. Everyone trembled, shook, and call out to their gods to save them.
What did the Captain do, Father?

He called to his brothers of the gate.
“Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than, facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods."
He stood on that bridge, held those foes back, and when all looked like it was lost, he call out to burn the bridge behind him. 
Did he live Father?
Yes, he did, and he still lives well.
Fellers, I want you to grow strong, be our brave captains. While others tremble, I expect you all to stand strong. All I have are these poems and stories that fill this well. With them I am invincible. 

Teaching and learning are in crisis.
The Robber Barons, Public Education Haters, and their Mercenaries are standing at our schoolhouse door across the nation. They see profits not children. They demand our Greater Good Sense's unconditional surrender.

I could walk away,
I could run away,
I could sit on that rocker,
I could fish my last days,
I could walk those mountain trails,
Row those rivers I love,
I could live well,
I could leave,
Maybe I should leave?
What would Brave Horatius do?

But, a priest, read a poem once about a brave captain,
Don't you hear Brave Horatius calling?

"Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than, facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods."

Who Wants to be a teacher today?
Who wants to stay?
Who is willing to stand on this bridge?

I turn out our literacy Center lights,
Lock the door, and
Walking out,
I read those words on the arch outside our School of Education:
Start With A Dream, Leave With A Future."
I think there are dreams to come, and futures that need protecting. 
Father Fitzgerald, read a poem, etched in our souls, and I am at your gate captain.
I am staying.

Just call me one of Father Fitzgerald’s brave Captains,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director,
Uniting to Save Our Schools
Proud Badass Teacher
A Captain of the gate

If you wonder what tune did this Walking Man listen to on his walk this morning, its The Clash's "Should I stay or should I go"

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