What happened when I tried to become a substitute teacher
In December 2021, it became clear that the latest COVID-19 variant — omicron — would impact schools after the holiday break. Thanks to the widespread accessibility of vaccines, the mild nature of omicron infections, and nearly two years of protocols that limit COVID transmissions inside schools remarkably well, I was not worried about sending my kids — a 7th grader and 10th grader — to their large public schools in our 60,000-person Connecticut town. Even more importantly, they were not worried. They wanted to go back to school.
We all knew, though, that opening schools would require having enough grown-ups — in all buildings, most classrooms, many periods, every day. And clearly omicron wasn’t going to let that happen. Teachers, paraprofessionals, aides, administrators, custodians, security officers, and all the other essential adults in the school community would have to take days off for a variety of reasons — symptomatic COVID cases, asymptomatic COVID cases, symptoms that were caused by something other than COVID, quarantined kids or other family members, not to mention PTO for dentist appointments, out-of-town weddings, personal days, and all the other relics of pre-pandemic life.
Source: What happened when I tried to become a substitute teacher | by Makaela Kingsley | Jan, 2022 | Medium
“For many years I lived across the street from Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan’s elite public school, and I would sometimes get a ride from a father of one of the students. He was a cabdriver from Pakistan, a man who liked to strike up conversations with his passengers. Usually we talked about two things: his pride in his academically gifted kids (another child was already at Cornell) and his dismay at the state of affairs in Pakistan.
Eventually, the child at Stuyvesant went on to another elite university, and I saw less of my friendly driver, and then I moved out of the city. But I’ve been thinking about him again in connection to the two best things I’ve read about immigrants in recent months — and what both say about our never-ending debates over “American values.”
The first was Michael Powell’s luminous report “How It Feels to Be an Asian Student in an Elite Public School” in The Times last week. The second is Roya Hakakian’s book “A Beginner’s Guide to America,” a Tocquevillian gem of sociological and psychological analysis that explains, to a mainly American readership, just how strange this country can be to a newcomer, even — or especially — in what seem like the most banal aspects of life.”
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT |NYT comment:
Bravo Bret Stephens. An excellent piece, and good comments in support of more academically challenging curriculum. I lost my eldest son to a heroin cut with too much fentanyl overdose in 2011. He was a month short of 21, and an extremely bright candle, majoring in economics at Uconn. When Austin took his SAT’s, he scored an 800 on the verbal.
We have thought deeply about all the reasons he became a drug dealer while in high school, and became reckless about his safety regarding party drugs. Clearly, we made mistakes. One of the many contributors we identified, was the lack of academic challenge in the Hamden CT public school system, especially in the pre high school grades, where all homework was finished in school, and the absence of non varsity, after school sports and enrichment programs.