Dave Grohl penned a beautiful letter supporting America's teachers
via Tornonto Sun / Twitter

The number of Americans diagnosed wit COVID-19 has exploded over the course of July, but that hasn't stopped the Trump Administration from aggressively pushing for schools to reopen in the fall.

Earlier in the month, Trump tweeted that virtual learning "has proven to be terrible compared to in school."

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who's been a strong advocate for school choice and reducing the federal role in districts, has done an about-face and is pushing schools to reopen as well.

"I think the go-to needs to be kids in school, in person, in the classroom," she told CNN. "Because we know for most kids, that's the best environment for them."


Her department has also threatened to pull funding from districts that refuse to reopen. "The basic premise of federal funding under law is to provide a full-time education to students. How can you take the money and not provide the service?" a statement from her department read.

The issue of whether to open up schools or not in the fall has myriad considerations. What does science say about children's ability to spread the virus based on age? Has the curve flattened in a specific region? How will the schools handle social distancing?

How does being out of school for an extended period harm children psychologically? What do working parents do if they're children can't go to school?

These are all worthy of consideration, but one of the biggest concerns should be, what do the teachers think?

Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl penned a beautiful essay in The Atlantic supporting the idea that teachers should lead the way through this crisis.

Dave opens the letter admitting he's not a great role model when it comes to education.

"So, with me being a high-school dropout, you would imagine that the current debate surrounding the reopening of schools wouldn't register so much as a blip on my rock-and-roll radar, right? Wrong," Grohl wrote.

"My mother was a public-school teacher."

via NME / Twitter

"She helped generations of children learn how to learn, and, like most other teachers, exhibited a selfless concern for others," Grohl continued. "Though I was never her student, she will forever be my favorite teacher."

Given his lifelong experience with educators he believes they are "essential workers."

"It takes a certain kind of person to devote their life to this difficult and often-thankless job. I know because I was raised in a community of them," Grohl wrote. "I have mowed their lawns, painted their apartments, even babysat their children, and I'm convinced that they are as essential as any other essential workers."

Grohl asked his go-to expert on the topic, his mother Virginia, her thoughts on the issue. "There's so much more to be addressed than just opening the doors and sending them back home," Grohl's 82-year-old, now retired mother, told him over the phone.

She also gave him a list of issues that should be considered before reopening districts: "masks and distancing, temperature checks, crowded busing, crowded hallways, sports, air-conditioning systems, lunchrooms, public restrooms, janitorial staff."

Given the large number of staff at most schools that are older and more vulnerable to the virus, Dave's mother believes schools should remain temporarily closed.

"Remote learning for the time being," Dave's mom said.

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Grohl also questioned the qualifications of DeVos, a woman who never spent any time teaching in a classroom.

"I wouldn't trust the U.S. secretary of percussion to tell me how to play 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' if they had never sat behind a drum set, so why should any teacher trust Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to tell them how to teach, without her ever having sat at the head of a class?" Grohl wrote.

The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" drummer concluded his letter recommending that, in the school debate, we let teachers lead the way.

"Teachers want to teach, not die, and we should support and protect them like the national treasures that they are. For without them, where would we be?" Grohl wrote.

"May we show these tireless altruists a little altruism in return. I would for my favorite teacher. Wouldn't you?"

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less