Uncertainty and fear: Educators Week looks a lot different than years before

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Screen Shot 2017 03 06 at 6.58.40 PMStand up. Speak up. It’s Your Turn.

This year’s Educators Week looks a lot different than years before, but my appreciation for the teachers throughout the Granite State is unwavering – especially during a time posing so much uncertainty and fear.

As a lifelong Manchester resident and educator who has served as the Deputy Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, I have experienced firsthand the unique challenges our educators face every day – from reaching into their own wallets to help supplement their classrooms, to taking on additional roles after hours to meet and effectively respond to their students’ unique needs. Our teachers are some of the many heroes in our state who make our communities stronger. This Educators Week and every week, our teachers deserve our appreciation, respect, and support.

Right now, our teachers lack the leadership they deserve. Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal aid from schools that did not reopen schools. In New Hampshire, rather than providing guidance during a crisis, Governor Sununu’s guidelines put the onus on our school districts to take matters into their own hands. It should come as no surprise that the Sununu Administration’s school reopening plan was written by a consulting firm hired by President Trump’s U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos who does not support public education.

The pandemic is uncharted territory for our educators. In just a few short weeks, communities across New Hampshire will have to quickly adapt to the new reality of virtual learning with little guidance or support. Others will have to return to their classrooms and risk their safety, their students’ safety, and their families’ safety – with inadequate guidelines.

What our teachers desperately need right now are leaders in charge who understand the challenges they face. They need leaders who listen to our health experts as an unprecedented pandemic continues to claim lives. They deserve leaders who put their safety and their students’ safety first. 

Joe Biden will be that leader. He will replace Secretary of Education Betsy Devos immediately with someone who has actually been an educator and believes our public schools are essential to the well-being of our nation. He already released a plan for how we reopen our public schools safely amid the ongoing public health crisis, which includes getting the virus under control, expanding contact tracing and critical testing, and bolstering personal protective equipment for all our teachers and students. Joe Biden will unite our nation around real solutions that are guided by science. 

This week, thank a teacher. In November, cast your ballot with their health, safety, and needs in mind. 

Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? We welcome opinion and letter to the editor-style prose on topics of interest. Send submissions to carolrobidoux@manchesterinklink.com, subject line: The Soapbox

heathState Rep. Mary Heath is serving a fourth term and represents Manchester’s Ward 7.

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