Dave Grohl comes to the defense of teachers amid the “daunting and evermore politicized question of reopening our schools in the coronavirus pandemic” in the Foo Fighters singer’s first audio version of his Dave’s True Stories series.
Grohl begins by recounting his own experience as a student in the Fairfax County, Virginia, school district before dropping out in high school to pursue his rock star dreams. “To this day, I’m haunted by a reoccurring 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,” Grohl said.
“So, with me being a high school dropout, you’d imagine the current debate surrounding the reopening of schools wouldn’t register so much a blip on my rock & roll radar, right? Wrong. My mother was a public school teacher.”
Grohl then discussed his mother’s experience as a teacher, an occupation that was so low-paying at the time ($35,000 per year) that his mother Virginia had to pick up additional jobs for supplemental income. “She was one of those teachers who became a mentor to many and her students remembered her long after they graduated,” Grohl added.
He also noted that several other musicians — Adam Levine, Tom Morello, Haim, Josh Groban and others — are similarly the children of school workers.
“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 [children] back home, my mother tells me on the phone,” Grohl said. “Now 82 and retired, she runs down a list of concerns based on her 35 years of experience: Masks and distancing, temperature checks, crowded bussing, crowded hallways, sports, air-conditioning systems, lunchrooms, public restrooms, janitorial staff. Most schools already struggle from a lack of resources. How can they possibly afford the mountain of safety measures that will need to be in place?”
Grohl then noted how many of the teachers, especially older faculty, are those whose lives would be at risk. “I can only imagine if my mother would now be forced to return to a stuffy, windowless classroom.”
The solution, for now, is remote learning, Grohl’s mother argued, although that too presents a challenge for “working class and single parents dealing with the logistical problem of balancing jobs with the children at home,” as well as technological and social issues. “Remote learning is an inconvenient and hopefully temporary solution, but as much as Donald Trump’s conductor-less orchestra would love to see the country reopen schools in the name of rosy optics, ask a science teacher what they think about White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s comment that ‘Science should not stand in the way.’ It would be foolish to do so at the expense of our students, teachers and school.”