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The stay-at-home dad: Pay the teachers billions of dollars

by Tyler Wilson
| May 13, 2020 12:17 PM

Pay the teachers billions of dollars

Coeur Voice contributor

My wife and I both come from a family of teachers. We know the challenges of public education, and even under normal circumstances, teachers don’t get paid nearly enough.

Now they need even more. Give teachers ALL the money. Someone smart could figure out the logistics. Ask a math teacher!

With schools closed, my two school-aged children are engaged in distance learning with their school district. I don’t call it homeschooling, because that implies I’m the one doing the work of educating them. I’m merely a middle manager in the process. I’m the Michael Scott of distance learning, and even though I’m doing almost-nothing, I’m overwhelmed.

When schools closed in March, our district quickly provided online materials and guidance for kids to essentially “stay sharp.” They prioritized helping vulnerable families by accelerating a lunch program and distributing laptops to households in need.

Once the school district closed for the year, teachers and administrators rushed to create an impressive curriculum that balances necessary learning with the realities of at-home engagement. They know parents are working from home and/or managing the needs of multiple kids in a stressful situation. They also know most of us aren’t trained, professional educators.

My third grader now gets thoughtful daily assignments supported by free access to online tools. Her teacher provides video instruction, “meets” with her one-on-one via Facetime and holds a weekly Zoom meeting with the entire class. It’s a couple hours of work at the most, and, best of all, she enjoys it.

I’m even more impressed with the output for our 6-year-old son. Kindergartners are… tough. The school provides about an hour of material per day, which is more than plenty for an easily-distracted child who never stops wiggling. His teacher creates videos and assignments that don’t overstretch his scrambled brain.

Helping him through these assignments has been one of the more taxing emotional challenges I’ve ever experienced. My 6-year-old can shift between wild goofball and sensitive sadsack within seconds. His learning process requires extra attention and patience, and I’d imagine every individual kindergartner needs their own tailored approach to some degree.

Just sitting next to him while he’s on the computer burns me out. I watch him bob his head back and forth repeatedly, fiddle with his pencil, stand from his seat every three seconds and utter nonsense noises under his breath. Every question I ask comes with an answer of “What?” and every individual action is followed by an “Are we done?”

The content is good, especially considering how quickly the teachers had to create it. My son is just how all 6-year-old boys are to some extent. They’re distracted little puppies, constantly on the hunt for something to chew apart.

I sit there with him and think about having to control 20 of these puppies at the same time. For Six. Hours. A. Day. I don’t think it’s possible without using tranquilizer darts.

His teacher called me this week to do a little survey on the curriculum. I couldn’t believe she was asking for feedback from me, the dumb guy who can’t control his own kids.

“Is there something we could be doing better?” she asked.

What an insane question. I can’t believe they’ve accomplished what they have on such short notice! I can’t believe teachers willingly walk into a room full of 5 and 6-year-olds, command attention, insert useful skills and knowledge into their mushy monkey brains and are still every student’s favorite adult human on the planet.

To the scientists out there: Please solve coronavirus so I don’t have to “teach” my children anymore. Spend whatever money you need. Then give ALL the rest to the teachers. If you can’t quite balance the budget, I know a couple people who are good with numbers.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home parent to four kids, ages 2-8. He is tired, especially in the age of Pandemic 2020. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.