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Celebrating in the Face of COVID, Hurricanes, and DeVos

October 28, 2020

I am sitting in my living room waiting for Hurricane Zeta to pass over my southeastern Louisiana home in a few hours. It’s our fifth hurricane to hit the region this season and the seventh time southern Louisiana has fallen within the cone of hurricane threat.

This year has been a regular diet of COVID and hurricanes overshadowing my teaching experience, even as Betsy DeVos continues to publicly express her disdain for America’s systems of public schools.

Well, Betsy, my public school is a good school, and I am a good public school teacher.

In the last several weeks, seven new students have enrolled in my Eng IV classes. Six arrived from other schools. That would not happen in a private school. There is no obligation to enroll whoever shows up on the private school doorstep. But we enroll students as they arrive, and each one enters my classroom with a circumstance that I must figure out how to navigate so that the student can become part of my class as successfully and seamlessly as is possible.

It is quite a challenge, but we do not turn students away. We. Do. Not. Turn. Students. Away. That is profound, and the likes of Betsy DeVos, steeped in her ideological bias, completely misses it. 

Then there are the numerous specialized situations in which students and their families find themselves, circumstances that necessitate individualized, often instantaneous and creative, solutions. Longterm illness and disease. Comprehension issues. Physical limitations. Psychological challenges. Homelife instabilities.

And now, with the advent of online learning, wifi issues. Password issues. Platform issues. 

And you know what? We are nearing the end of our first grading period, and I have offered more graded assignments than required. I have (and continue to) work with students with extenuating circumstances. I have been able to address specific issues interfering with individual students’ success in my class by building relationships with my students and, in turn, by helping them confront those fears, sometimes in time to raise grades, sometimes as a hard-earned lesson to improve future grades.

The key is that authentic learning and personal responsibility are behind students’ improving less-desirable grades.

The bottom line: My students and I are moving forward, despite COVID, despite hurricanes, despite DeVos.

And that, my friends, is success.


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  1. Karla Barham permalink

    All of us are, and God bless Lake Charles!

  2. Daedalus permalink

    Thanks, Mercedes.

    It is what we do (or, in my case, what I did, and what you are doing now). The real reward is knowing that you did your best to help the next generation cope. But, eventually we all need to cede to a younger generation that we helped create. There’s no money involved. Educators don’t work for money. Education is, truly, a profession, a calling. The flim-flam adpersons just can’t understand a concept like that because they are so shallow.

    Don’t get me wrong, Mercedes. I also worked in private schools for the rich (and did my best to educate, yet convert their children, to broaden their horizons). Who knows if I had any impact? A success story here or there. Maybe that’s all we can ask. We do what we must.

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  1. Mercedes Schneider: Surviving Hurricanes, COVID, and DeVos | Diane Ravitch's blog

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