Saturday, October 24, 2020

Dear Retired Teacher: Imagine You Are a Teacher Today by Glen Brown


Dear Retired Teacher:

Imagine you are a teacher today. 

You are afraid that you cannot teach effectively because you are afraid: You are afraid of contracting the coronavirus and infecting your family and others. You are afraid of your students contracting the coronavirus and infecting their families. You are afraid for students who ride buses and for bus drivers who bring them to school and home each day.

You are afraid that frequent hand-washing is impossible for students to do throughout the entire day. You are afraid there is not enough space in your classroom for proper distancing. You are afraid of sharing classrooms. You are afraid social distancing and wearing cloth masks for hours is impossible for students. You are afraid of students eating lunches without masks, passing in hallways, and congregating in bathrooms or by their lockers. You are afraid your students cannot safely "socialize" in a pandemic despite the irrational push to send them to school. You are afraid some parents will undermine your safety concerns.

You are afraid of airborne transmission of the coronavirus that thrives indoors, especially in closed spaces. You are afraid the windows cannot be opened or will not be opened in inclement weather. You are afraid your school's ventilation system is antiquated or poor (where air is not properly filtered, diluted and exchanged); that the HVAC system has not been upgraded and will easily spread the coronavirus. You are afraid that every surface in your school will not be sanitized each day.

You are afraid your school will have insufficient Personal Protective Equipment to keep everyone healthy and safe, such as portable HEPA air purifiers for each room, N-95 masks, Nitrile gloves, face shields, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizers... 

You are afraid you will not be able to tell the difference between the symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu, or the difference between the coronavirus and the common cold, or the difference between the coronavirus and common allergies. You are afraid of asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus.

You are afraid your school cannot guarantee everyone’s health and safety through reliable and consistent testing and professional contact tracing. You are afraid there are not enough nurses and custodians for each school. You are afraid administrators and the school board lack the expertise to determine health and safety measures for students, teachers and staff. 

You are afraid of the blatant incompetence of some of your administrators, the risky agenda of the school board, and the selfish irrational priorities of many parents in your school district. You are afraid for your students’ lives. You are afraid of dying.

You would be afraid too.

Until this country has a unified and coherent federal, state and local strategy; until the federal government increases its funding for health and safety for all schools across this nation; until there is federal funding for parents to assist with their at-home childcare and technology and federal funding to feed disadvantaged children; until business entrepreneurs and the Trump administration solve the false choice they have created for parents of school-age children—all schools and universities across this nation should open only on online this fall and not until this pandemic is totally under control!

Furthermore, until the morons among us stop spreading misinformation and conspiracies because of their own gullibility and ignorance; until the Creons among us cease their stubbornness and spitefulness; until the pathological narcissists among us end their gas-lighting, this unabated coronavirus will continue to proliferate, and thousands of Americans will die.

Please help our teachers today. Get involved. Call your school district and express your concerns.

-Glen Brown

Retired Teacher


  1. Hi Glen,

    Thank you so much for sharing the retired teachers article.

    I can't imagine what teaching today must be like and even though we are "stuck in" the house 24/7 not visiting family/friends, not performing concerts, not playing church services & not teaching classes of any sort, teaching in schools today has to be as hazardous as any emergency & medical process workers must deal with, and we see teachers have less sensible resources at hand.

    For 40+ years I taught K-12 special education, regular, music as well as graduate courses in mental health/psychology/teaching methods for special education, as well as performing as singer/pianist/organist, founder of many music groups, heading private music teaching studios, I continued teaching & performing in various milieu in my recent "never-retired" years.

    But to think of teaching in the classroom TODAY is the most mind-boggling. In my mind, I think about how I would teach chorus, band, private lessons, classes of special ed students and how would I work all that out safely, sensibly without much help and then be even criticized for whatever I did.

    Teaching all day while raising family and attending night school for advanced ED courses and preparing the next day's lessons was not easy back then for us "working mothers", but THIS pandemic without sensible logical knowledgeable procedures and federal leadership from the top down has to be the most unbelievable situation in the world, especially for a country that takes such pride in being the best in everything.

    As horrible as this pandemic has been and continues to be, most of our society can see how our education system, health system, environment issues and elite powerful controlling misinformation is undermining the society as a whole, and realize this has BEEN so, since its inception.

    Hopefully the strength of cooperation, understanding, consistency in facts just MIGHT be stable enough to lead this country into a surviving democracy that truly DOES care for its own people.

    Thanks again for connecting all of us. It gives us strength and the moral will to act in ways that prove our inner desire to be helpful to our fellow man/woman in all areas of life.

    Rosemary Schroeder

  2. My daughter and granddaughter are both teachers. They come home every day exhausted, physically, emotionally, totally wiped out. I cannot imagine doing this.
    Thanks for this reminder of how frightening it is for all teachers.
    Mary Kay