The following is a letter written to Governor Greg Abbott (Texas) in response to his plan to reopen schools in the fall:
Hi Governor Abbott,
You probably don’t remember me; I interviewed you at Baylor University in 2011 when you came to launch the financial literacy program. I was with the Baylor Lariat. Meeting you was special; it was my first press conference and you were my first interviewee. I had hoped that you would care about your people the way you seemed to care back then. But lately, it feels like I’m mistaken.
I implore you to stop the reopening of schools this fall. This issue is actually really personal to me. Both my parents are teachers, and I do not have any siblings — I’m an only child. I fear for my parents’ lives as you so callously plan to open up schools simply for the economy. I can’t believe I am finding myself thinking to spend all the time with my parents that I can now because I don’t know if they’ll make it through this upcoming school year.
Governor — if you reopen the schools, you are going to make me an orphan. I am going to be alone. My parents are my best friends, they are my life, and they are all I have. I love them more than I can even say here. And if you go through with reopening schools, you will have stolen their lives for the sake of some money. You will have sold them out for cash. My parents are educators — and over the course of their 30+ years as educators, they have produced thousands of students who have gone on to do wonderful things for our community. Engineers, doctors, scientists, military servicemen — who chose the career paths that they chose because they were influenced and inspired by my parents, who are both so passionate about educating the future. My parents chose you; they chose Texas. They loved what Texas stood for and they worked to keep this state so great. They’ve always worked to get their schools the top scores in standardized testing. They put their hearts into making Texas a great place with educated citizens. And in return, they are being forced to sacrifice their lives. They are being forced to choose between losing their money, losing their jobs, losing their home — and losing their lives. All this for your pride and your money. Governor, what you have chosen to do makes you no different than Judas Iscariot. You are betraying those you are supposed to care about, for money. For the economy. For the modern-day equivalent of thirty pieces of silver.
We the people have asked Greg Abbott for flexibility for teachers and for school districts.
What we got were reckless guidelines for reopening schools.
Under your leadership, Texas is experiencing a substantial community spread of COVID-19. The claim by your administration that it’s safe is not in line with what scientists and doctors and medical professionals know about the dangers of COVID-19, with what we know about the dangers of COVID-19 — dangers that seem to grow worse and more unpredictable every day.
Pump the brakes on opening schools. School districts need more flexibility and time to make decisions alongside its most important stakeholders: parents and educators.
We need your help again. We want you to do the following:
Waive the 45-day rule for teachers to make the best decision for themselves and their families about coming back to campus.
Cancel the STARR test for 2020–2021; students and teachers don’t need high stakes testing hanging over their heads.
Give school districts more flexibility under TEA guidelines, not less.
Allow virtual and online teaching, like our teachers managed to do at the beginning of this pandemic. Rather than forcing campuses to open, provide more resources that make it easier to hold online lessons that are equally effective as in-person class.
Our educators deserve better and students deserve to learn in safety.
Please, please, please, Governor: do not make me an orphan. Do not be the reason I have to navigate my entire adult life alone. Do not be the reason I walk down the aisle alone at my wedding. Do not be the reason that my future children never get to meet their grandparents, who would have loved them to ends of the earth and spoiled them like crazy. Do not be the reason they lose their lives, which by extension, would also make me lose any meaning and joy I have in my life.
I sincerely hope you do the right thing. When I met you, I felt like you were a good person. Please do not prove me wrong. I still believe you can do the right thing.