“Designating parents as guilty makes no sense.”

Teachers sound the alarm bell because as much as 80% are afraid of getting infected with corona in school. The trade union Teachers In Action (LIA) is angry and denounced the attitude of working parents to use school as a ‘daycare. But… compulsory education wasn’t conceived by parents, was it?

Children in the Netherlands are subject to school from the age of 5. This concept was not conceived by parents, but by the government, which believes education is one of the pillars of development. So children, by law, have to go to school. In addition, we live in a society where very often both parents have to work in order to provide the livelihoods of their families, as a direct result of the neoliberalist government policies of recent years.

The

result is that the life of parents is arranged for children who go to school. Not because people want to shift responsibility for their child (ren) to the school, but because they have the responsibility to feed them and provide them with education. And even a global pandemic doesn‘t change that.

Accusing

Personally, I wonder why all these teachers are so panic about a virus that by far most – who are not already old and/or sick – hardly suffer. Anyway, everyone has the right to their own fear (s). I’m not a teacher, so I can‘t sense what it’s like to be standing in front of a class full of sniffing virus bombs.

And fine, very well, if you unite as a profession to fight against bad working conditions. But can the teachers stop accusing parents of negligence and neglect of their child (ren)? Indeed, school is not a shelter. School is school. And there children have to go for several hours a day five days a week.

Compulsory education

Not because people can dump their child (ren) with the teacher and relax themselves, but because this is how it works in the Netherlands. If you disagree with that, you should report to politics, not to the citizen. So if you, as a teacher, do not want to do your job in these circumstances, you have to fight with your union to abolish compulsory education.

That you are working hard for changes to the system, asking for adjustments and/or reviewing the situation in which you have to work because you believe that is necessary, there is nothing wrong with that. But why are you playing to a group of people who have nothing to do with it? And besides, what do you expect from parents?

Impossible

I think the previous lockdown clearly showed that families will be in great trouble when the children get home. Again: not because the parents would not want to take care of them, but because it is often impossible to combine worries, work and teaching. Finally, parents do not receive paid leave from their employer if their children are unable to attend school.

There‘s nothing in the Coronas Pood Act about temporarily stopping working while maintaining a salary to be able to accommodate your child during office hours. So what are parents supposed to do? – quit their job? Because that’s so good for the kids? That is, of course, nonsense and totally unrealistic. Yes, teachers are in a difficult split. But that goes for parents just as well.

Government

So dear teachers, it‘s very annoying that you’re so worried. It seems to me like this to live in fear. I think parents would love to help you, in fact, I know that there are parents who would prefer to keep their child (ren) at home until this pandemic is over.

Personally, I am not afraid, but in the context of safety and public health, I love to keep my children at home and teach them myself. But that must be possible. And that is not possible for most parents. Because they have to feed their children. And a roof over their heads. That‘s the responsibility of parents. Teaching them is yours.

Instead of pointing a finger at the parents, it might be more constructive to draw someone else’s attention to her responsibility. Namely, facilitating citizens in a crisis situation. After all, it is not just the children who need shelter, but all of us. And for that, there really is only one responsible: the government.