Despite not having children, I have gathered that the overwhelming sentiment around education in corona-times is that distance learning sucks for everyone. But the question of whether it sucks more than opening schools to real-life kids, who will inevitably do stupid shit, like spit into each others’ open mouths on dares, is a fraught and complicated one. Were I to be charged with the task of fielding letters from angry and exhausted parents who just want part of their normal lives back, I would probably take every opportunity to bitch about those parents behind their backs. What I would probably try to avoid doing is mocking those parents as lazy potheads in a public zoom meeting with my school board colleagues, which is exactly what the Oakley Union Elementary School District Board of Trustees in California accidentally recently did.
In the Zoom meeting, which school board members did not seem to know was open to the public, one member asked “Are we alone?” They did not appear to double-check the answer to her question before continuing, “Bitch if you’re going to call me out, I’m going to fuck you up.” While it was likely deeply unpleasant to hear that sentence from someone in charge of running things smoothly for small children, who among us has not overestimated our own courage in ire while venting to co-workers? (I’d like to take this moment to assure my editor, Julianne Escobedo-Shepherd, that it is me who has not.)
To the laugher and delight of his colleagues, one board member named Richie Masadas revealed that his “brother had a delivery service for medical marijuana, and the clientele were parents with their kids in school. When you got your kids at home,” he said, making a likely true but also truly ill-timed point, “no more smoking out.”
Eventually, in an second-hand gut-churning moment for me, a former educator who has talked enough quiet shit in my day to fill a museum archive, the attendees realized others were on the call. A trustee recorded by at least one parent says: “Uh oh. We have the meeting open to the public right now,” and all the tough-talkers proceed to scatter like dumpster rats in the beam of a headlight, bless their hearts.
The parents, already as angry as most parents who contact school board members normal are, were obviously apoplectic, though truly it does not take much. In the wake of their “Zoom outs,” a parent-led student strike which hopefully provided stressed-out teachers a nice little afternoon to have margaritas and bitch privately to their friends about how much they hate these very same parents, the board president, Lisa Brizendine, who can be heard on video saying “It’s really unfortunate that they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back,” has resigned.
But listen, before everyone jumps in to say if you don’t like parents don’t be on the school board, I must counter: That’s not how jobs work and everyone knows it. Bitching about work in private should be a constitutionally protected right. Again, not that I have ever done that at this job, which I love all aspects of, and certainly not about the kind people who will soon gather just a few inches downscreen to discuss whether or not I have done an adequate job composing this blog.
Correction: The unfortunate school district in question was the Oakley Union Elementary School District, located approximately 70 miles from San Jose, the district originally mentioned. In keeping with the theme of this blog, Jezebel regrets the error.