We Are Not “Healing Together”

Testimony of Maddie Luebbert, English teacher at KHSA to the BOE, February 25, 2021

I don’t even know where to start. I am so tired. Feeling abandoned and scorned by this District is just one reason why.  

Not only have educators been working incredibly hard to build a new plane while it’s flying, using only the flaming wreckage left over from before, we are being bombarded by one demoralizing or threatening message after another coming from our so-called leaders. 

I am disappointed by some of the rhetoric around reopening school buildings. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’ve been teaching every day. I’ve been connecting with students and building trusting relationships. I’m helping them become more confident readers and writers. And yet the leaders of this district are unashamed to assert that students aren’t learning.

That’s simply not true. Of course the virtual format is not ideal. Of course not every student is learning, nor are students learning as much as we are used to or would hope. After all, these are unprecedented times. 

But to say that my students, who have already read two novels and will soon be writing op-eds to be published in the Kensington Voice, are not learning, is deeply insulting. To insinuate that schools “aren’t open” is a slap in the face to every educator that has been working harder than ever so we can stay in touch with students and provide the best instruction possible. It’s belittling to our students that are balancing a global pandemic as well as work, school, and every other issue that existed in their lives before March 13th. 

(If pointing out this flawed rhetoric seems silly, I invite you to participate in a lesson on connotation and word choice that I present to my 9th grade english class every year.) 

For nearly a year, every worker in this District has been driven into the ground by new and ever shifting demands, concern for our students, and the fact that we are all experiencing the collective grief and trauma of this pandemic. In a time where authentic work is needed to figure out how we can proceed with mutual trust and respect, educators are being threatened, bullied, and blamed. 

We always end up talking about teacher retention and attendance. Be honest, would you want to work here? Your children or friends? We do not yet know how many teachers are leaving after this year, but I cannot blame anyone for choosing their own well-being. We are not “healing together.” We are being abused by our employers.