by William Skink
Who is Mary Sheehy Moe? Is she an epidemiologist studying infectious diseases? No, she’s a former school teacher and former State Representative who wrote an essay that appeals to older people like James Conner, who provided his platform for Moe’s indelicate call to cancel school for the foreseeable future, which starts with this:
I’m just going to blurt it right out: Call off on-campus schooling for the foreseeable future. There is no way, in the throes of a pandemic, you can protect the safety of all the people in the school environment and all the people they go home to on a daily basis AND retain the advantages of in-class instruction. Yes, remote learning is not the same. But neither is what we’re planning, and all these labor-intensive exercises charting out inane details cannot blot out the big picture we’ll do anything NOT to see: We are stuck in this time and space. There is no new normal. It is what it is: a pandemic.
In order to keep ALL people safe in “the school environment” Mary Moe is demanding school kids stay home indefinitely. Yes, this would greatly insulate teachers from our snot-nosed kids, so why not apply this logic to “the grocery store environment” as well? Why are we allowing so many icky bodies into so many physical structures to possibly infect so many front-line workers?
For parents who think it’s still important to get paychecks in order to eat and and service housing costs, Moe feels your pain, but kids being back in school is just not in anyone’s interest:
Going back to school with a pandemic spiking is NOT in the best interest of children. Nor is it in the best interest of their parents, in spite of the fact that they dread an autumn like last spring and need to get back to work and want to believe that the old normal can return simply by ferocity of wishing. Parents, I’m not judging you. I would be feeling exactly the same way if I had school-aged children and a career to worry about. We should be helping you and your children with resources for the new reality, not filling your heads with bubble-licious.
It’s nice to know we parents aren’t being judged by a woman who has no school-aged kids and no longer needs to work.
And it’s equally heartening to know Moe totally thinks we parents “SHOULD” be assisted with resources. But where O where are these “resources” going to come from? Does this former Democrat politician have anything critical to say about the current Democrat Governor who continues to sit on a pile of Covid cash like Scrooge McDuck?
No, instead Moe plays the teacher victim card and makes parents out be labor exploiters pawning off their kids to make “tons of money”, but before getting to that gross generalization, here is how Moe envisions recess playing out in our new normal:
Imagine recess, for instance: Kids playing the game du jour with gloves on their hands and masks on their faces, the ball being washed after the accidents that will happen. Kids being shushed singing jump rope songs – “the droplets!” Kid standing in a socially distanced line waiting for the monkey bars to be cleaned between each child’s romp. Kids being monitored by a masked adult with an electronic whistle or perhaps a pool noodle to corral the errant children erupting in a game of tag into the tiresome, deadening, ever-present, socially distanced, droplet-free zone. My generation blamed decades of substance abuse on the trauma of hiding under our desks for 15 minutes waiting for the atom bomb to hit. This pales in comparison.
Is this a threat? Because it kinda sounds like one. It sounds like Mary Sheehy Moe is using the threat of traumatizing my children to get the indefinite closure of schools she is calling for.
In the next paragraph, Moe shifts from her dystopian vision of pandemic schooling to that gross generalization of money-making parents I mentioned above:
May I mention the teachers and staff – what we now call “essential workers,” which, loosely defined, means “people we pay squat and treat worse so that they can take care of our kids while we go off to be big shots and make a ton of money”? What kind of magical thinking does it take to believe that a workforce 33% of whom are over 50 years old and a goodly number of whom suffer from debilitating conditions, are going to be just fine in that petri dish of humanity we call a public school?
I ended up deleting a bunch of different ways of responding to this because they all included profanity.
Instead I’ll say this; parents and teachers are both being put in difficult to impossible situations while politicians politicize the issue, and while Governor Bullock waits for some unknown reason to use relief funds, and while the billionaire class is getting RICHER and RICHER.
And while all that’s going on, Mary Sheehy Moe thought hey, you know who else had to learn under difficult conditions? Anne Frank!
Anne Frank probably didn’t learn in quite the same way the 761 days she spent in hiding. But anyone who has read her diary cannot doubt that she learned … or that her forced isolation in turn forced a level of study and reflection deeper than what any kids experiences in any school.
Atom bombs and Anne Frank are the images Mary Moe is conjuring, and maybe that’s appropriate, considering the grand vista at the apex of American power her generation enjoyed, but for some reason I don’t think that imagery will resonate with two paycheck households and one parent families wondering how the fuck they are going to survive the coming weeks and months.