When schools were closed statewide in 2020, there was a distinct moment of clarity amid the chaos. Times were scary and stressful and delirious, but at least people started to see how difficult other people’s jobs were.
It felt like we were having a long-overdue reckoning about what is really important in society. It was refreshing to see people acknowledge that yes, it is hard to teach kids.
But now that things have returned to some facsimile of normal, gone are the days of widespread appreciation for the services that teachers provide, services that help kids grow and learn as well as help parents go to work without having to worry about looking after their kids.
Now, as schools scramble to provide coverage for teachers who are out, a familiar refrain has emerged: teachers are merely babysitters. The shortage of substitute teachers has only magnified its rationale. Having security guards, librarians and counselors watch cafeterias filled with students seems a lot more like “sitting” than “teaching.”