Read/Listen to ‘In Defense of Our Teachers,’ a Passionate New Essay from Dave Grohl Regarding School Reopening Plans Amid COVID-19 (Listen)

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Rock Cellar Magazine

Dave Grohl has something to say — and it all has to do with his dual role as a father of school-age children and the son of a teacher (to say nothing of his rock stardom).

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been far-ranging and unfathomably difficult for many aspects of what we like to consider “normal life.” One of the most important examples of normalcy to be upended by the ongoing pandemic is school, with teachers relegated to at-home Zoom sessions and other methods of remote work in place of teaching in an actual classroom.

Peruse the headlines of the day lately and you’ll see the dialogue surrounding the concept of sending kids back to school … and all the furor such suggestions have created, especially as the pandemic remains at the forefront of concern.

Reflecting upon this from his perspective, the Foo Fighters band leader penned a new column for The Atlantic. Titled In Defense of Our Teachers, Dave Grohl uses the space in the same way he has in recent weeks with his Dave’s True Stories Instagram account: With wit, charm and sharp writing emphasizing his personal view of the world.

There’s also an audio component to Grohl’s new essay, which you can listen to below:

Here’s how Grohl begins the piece:

I hate to break it to you, but I was a terrible student.

Each day, I desperately waited for the final bell to ring so that I could be released from the confines of my stuffy, windowless classroom and run home to my guitar. It was no fault of the Fairfax County Public Schools system, mind you; it did the best it could. I was just stubbornly disengaged, impeded by a raging case of ADD and an insatiable desire to play music. Far from being a model student, I tried my best to maintain focus, but eventually left school halfway through 11th grade to follow my dreams of becoming a professional touring musician (not advised). I left behind countless missed opportunities. To this day, I’m haunted by a recurring dream that I’m back in those crowded hallways, now struggling to graduate as a 51-year-old man, and anxiously wake in a pool of my own sweat. You can take the boy out of school, but you can’t take school out of the boy! 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.

My mother was a public-school teacher.

More from the column, which you can read in full by clicking here:

When it comes to the daunting—and ever more politicized—question of reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic, the worry for our children’s well-being is paramount. Yet teachers are also confronted with a whole new set of dilemmas that most people would not consider. “There’s so much more to be addressed than just opening the doors and sending them back home,” my mother tells me over the phone. Now 82 and retired, she runs down a list of concerns based on her 35 years of experience: “masks and distancing, temperature checks, crowded busing, crowded hallways, sports, air-conditioning systems, lunchrooms, public restrooms, janitorial staff.” Most schools already struggle from a lack of resources; how could they possibly afford the mountain of safety measures that will need to be in place? And although the average age of a schoolteacher in the United States is in the early 40s, putting them in a lower-risk group, many career teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, nurses, and janitors are older and at higher risk. Every school’s working faculty is a considerable percentage of its population, and should be safeguarded appropriately. I can only imagine if my mother were now forced to return to a stuffy, windowless classroom. What would we learn from that lesson? When I ask what she would do, my mother replies, “Remote learning for the time being.”

Read the whole Atlantic piece here.

Seeing this sort of outpouring of commentary from Grohl shouldn’t come as a surprise. A few months back, he wrote another Atlantic piece about the absence of live music during the pandemic and how glorious its return will be — once it is able to come back in the safest terms possible.

Dave Grohl, Fan of Live Music, Pens Emotional Column About Its Eventual Return: ‘We Need Moments That Reassure Us That We Are Not Alone’

The topic of reopening schools is also one very close to his heart. Dave Grohl and his mother, Virginia Grohl have a strong bond, and even wrote a book together in 2017 — From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars. 

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