One of the earliest games parents play with their children, Peek-A-Boo exploits the fact that infants who are nascent toddlers, believe that whatever they do not see cannot exist.
PEEK-A-BOO! You play the game by covering your face with your hands, and whoosh! you’re not there. Then you throw your hands open, show your face, and say peek-a-boo. The baby sees your face, you’re now there, and giggles. You laugh and cover your face again.
It’s not a fun game when we see the same game being played by school boards and superintendents, in which they cover their faces with their hands and pretend that the pandemic never happened.
They may throw their hands open every once in a while and acknowledge the struggles of their employees as they admonish them to practice self-care. They might send flowery messages about how hard this has been for everyone. But then it is ‘Game On!’ as teachers continue to have their time wasted in meetings called to discuss testing data, progress monitoring, ongoing classroom inspections by admin, &c. &c. all to answer the big question that has devastated education more than a pandemic ever could, “How will they score on the test?”
THE Test. There is no vaccination, no medicine, no social distancing, or mask that can protect American schoolchildren against it. No sneeze guard, HEPA air filtering, or UVC light zapping of viral particles that can end it. No opening of windows, distance learning, or other mitigation measures will deter school boards and superintendents from their obsession with test results.
Why? Because their jobs depend on it.
Years ago, when Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) was running a back office for a real-estate sales operation, he had an employee whose job was to collect back payments on outstanding loans. The employee often complained about resale companies, who convinced people that they could resell their now-unwanted property (the reason for the delinquency) for them. The resellers never delivered, but they did collect listing fees.
One day he changed his tune. The resellers offered an essential and wonderful service. As I inquired for the reason, it came out the resellers were paying him a $50 referral fee for every listing he sent them.
Yes, GOT put a stop to that practice immediately.
But it was a fascinating insight into human behavior. Money talks and drowns out other voices. When the Test asserts itself, it’s all that matters. All other concerns fall away.
Peek-a-boo! If school boards and superintendents cover their faces with their hands, the pandemic never happened. Everything is normal. Kids aren’t hurting, there’s no trauma to be addressed … get out the whips and drive them forward to the scores we need. Or teachers, feel the lash on your backs.
Peek-a-boo! Open the hands and here’s a spa coupon. Pamper yourself, but be sure to take the backlog of grading with you as you soak in the tub. Multi-tasking, ya know?
Peek-a-boo! Close the hands and the long, slow exodus of professionals AND essential support personnel won’t be seen. It doesn’t exist. Nothing to worry about, keep that long line of automobiles belching carbon monoxide into the air moving … because bus drivers are as rare as hen’s teeth these days … have you seen the latest progress monitoring results? What’s wrong with our teachers? If they really cared, they wouldn’t complain about losing planning time (we pay them, right? Don’t answer that question, we might not like the answer.)
Peek-a-boo! Keep those eyes covered, lest a long look or even a quick peek in the mirror might reveal something the movers and shakers don’t want to see. They could do much to change the impossible demands upon classroom teachers, support personnel, school leaders, counselors, and others even being under the constraints of state statutory requirements, but they don’t.
Peek-a-boo … how long can this game go on?