Guest Columnist

Now we'll appreciate the teachers and the nerds

Students leave Xavier High School after collecting belongings at the school in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Students leave Xavier High School after collecting belongings at the school in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The district is on spring break this week and allowed students to collect supplies for the period of school closures due to coronavirus. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, limited numbers of students entered at one time over a period of two hours. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The Coronavirus is upon us, casting a dark shadow over normal American life, but even amid the dark shadows, comes some bright lessons.

Here are just a few of the lessons we are staring to learn.

Public schools aren’t just places where are children go to learn from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Public schools are a critical part of our infrastructure. We now know why “wommunity” is all their middle names.

Public schools are not a luxury; they are a lifeline. Not only do America’s children depend on them for knowledge and socialization, they often depend on schools for basic nutrition.

The lesson is simple — the next time any legislative body is debating school funding, remember when the schools were shut down and the giant hole it tore in our communities.

Also, the next time we blame a teacher for all the trouble our kids are having, maybe we’ll remember the time, we tried to home-school our own kids. It’s not easy. It’s not always fun.

Although looking at memes on Facebook is not exactly scientific research, it does offer a glimpse of how parents are feeling about their home-school experience. Here are a fe examples

• “Been home schooling a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve To make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.”

• “Can I get this kid transferred out of my class?”

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• “Just because I went to third grade doesn’t mean I know how to teach it.”

In addition, we learned a little about government.

We might all say we want small government, but we don’t. What we really want is efficient government that understands how to mobilize and provide empathy at the same time. What we saw was something quite different, and that made us more anxious.

At first, our government was in denial and so a huge chunk of America parroted that feeling. As the virus continued to attacked, it became obvious that it wasn’t just going to “wash away.”

Even science deniers were forced to reconsider. A virus has no political party and our response shouldn’t either.

We also learned a free press is not the enemy of the people. It is essential for transparency and it saves lives in a crisis such as this. Without a free press to shed some light on some of the inaccurate statements, we would be in even more panic.

Finally, we learned science matters.

Politicians from both parties aren’t in charge. It has been the nerds we previously avoided at parties whose statements mattered. Dr. Anthony Fauci became our go-to guy for accurate, and timely information. After all, he was brave enough to contradict the president right in front of him to provide the truth; something none of his cabinet have ever even attempted.

America has met challenges before, and we’ll conquer this one too. I just hope when we’re on the other side of the crisis, we remember a few of the lessons we’ve learned.

Bruce Lear lives in Sioux City and recently retired after 38 years of being connected to public schools. He was a teacher for eleven years and a regional director for Iowa State Education Association the last 27 years before retiring. He grew up in Shellsburg, Iowa. BruceLear2419@gmail.com

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