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Opinion: Kids deserve our thanks
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From left, Cameron Blankenship, Arlen Osorio, Anna Osorio, Allen Osorio and Madison Blankenship work on their online learning assignments from home. Photo courtesy Diana Blankenship Osorio.

Let’s recognize the kids. 

I’ll be the first to salute all educators who are working through all the moving parts of teaching in a pandemic. After all, the current situation has given rise to a greater, widespread recognition of the value of schooling. Depending on your convictions and motivations, that value vacillates along a continuum from assuring a strong economy with students’ potential as future entrepreneurs to supporting students’ freedom of expression as aspiring artisans. Bottom line, we need educators! 

I think the message is clear, albeit muddy. Even a limited and crude acknowledgement that schooling provides child care for families has repositioned our viewpoint on teachers. Each of us has weighed in, some loudly and others in their resignation, on the importance of education — especially on what it provides to our country through the institution of schooling. The rampant presence of COVID-19 put teachers front and center in overcoming the impact of the pandemic. 

For today, for just a moment, I want you to pause and thank the children, too. Recently, children’s book author Matt de la Pena posted the following on social media: 

“Gotta take a sec to praise all the young kids out there, including my own. Zoom school, homebound for months and months and months, little masks that keep slipping down in the supermarket, no friends or teammates or grandparents. But still, you mostly smile. And you’ve learned how to unmute yourself on Zoom. And make new games out of old toys. You may not realize it, but you keep your parents from crumbling into sad little heaps of despair. Even on your worst days. Thank you. We love you. (*Also ... thank you for requiring 10 hours of sleep per night.)” 

At first read, here is a great dad taking a moment to simply thank kids; however, if you stay with it and let the words of the post percolate, echo and haunt you, you realize that de la Pena, like his other books “for children,” is speaking directly to you the adults. Pay attention to the children. 

Isn’t it kind of incredible to be witness to the resiliency of our students? They keep at it, because it’s what they do. 

They deserve our best, and I challenge that as schools attempt to educate our most precious treasures, we take care of the children in all ways, and that, in itself, requires us to show deep gratitude for the children. 

Their lives, like yours, have changed forever. Historically, children have been positioned out of the way and in the shadows of adults, and if we aren’t careful, they will carry such emotional wounds from these times. We must demonstratively commit to shining light on them — each part of them: their struggles, laughs, persistence, concerns, successes, challenges, hardiness — their downright grit, doggedness and bounce-back-ability. We will lose a bit of our humanity if we do not. 

Ultimately, don’t simply take care of the children. Be sure you thank them, too. 

Shane Rayburn 


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