Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

A Teacher’s Testimonial: “There’s Light at the End of the Tunnel, But We Are Riding in the Last Car”

A high school history teacher from Houston, TX, tells us about their working conditions in the midst of the pandemic. Although Texas is currently seeing an increasing number of cases, teachers and students, including those who had opted for remote learning, have been forced to go in person for end-of-semester finals.

Left Voice

December 23, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

I am a high school History teacher in Houston, TX. Initially, as the school year started students and parents had the choice to take classes online through Zoom, or attend in person. My classes were more or less 50/50 in person and online. As the district began wrapping up the first semester of the year, all students, regardless of being online or in-person, were required to be on campus in order to take their finals. Despite the consternation of my colleagues, as well as our principal, district policies prevailed. The school I teach at is within a district in Houston that is generally considered “higher income.” Capitalist bourgeoisie from what me and my fellow teacher refer to as “the other side of the freeway” are those who control the school board. My school however is largely made up of working class, proletarian parents, and 99% of my students are Hispanic and immigrants, or the children of immigrants. Their parents are people that are considered “essential workers,” but who the capitalist class still looks down upon. As such they are gone during the day while their children attend classes online. These are not parents who have the luxury of complaining of eye strain while sitting at a desk all day. Parents from the other side of the freeway and the school board members who kowtow to them are the ones who mandated that every student in the district must come to campus for finals, even though every student is taking their finals on their Chromebooks. 

While I began the year knowing I was a guinea pig to see how COVID might affect us, as the year continued I started feeling more and more at ease at work while still maintaining protocol. However, this was peppered with unease as every so often teachers would receive emails that would be forwarded to parents stating how a student tested positive for COVID. But we never had a full blown outbreak. I still wore my mask everywhere, and so did students. But as finals week began, and students came in, my anxiety increased. During one of my periods, a full 30 students, as well I, were packed into a classroom. I scanned the room ensuring students did not slack on wearing their mask. None did. Regardless of protocols, there is no way to feel safe having 20 to 30-plus people packed into a classroom. 

I understand that the Zoom students are not experiencing education like we would all like them to have. I am a teacher, I want a full class. As I came to campus during finals week I was, admittedly, initially excited to finally see many of my students in-person and have full classes. During the year, at most, I had 10 to 12 students at a time, but those last few days saw me and my colleagues at full capacity. The protocols of mask wearing and social distancing have by and large kept us safe during the semester. But it seems that this all got thrown out of the window, for whatever reason, by the district just for students to take their tests that could have been done from home, that they have been doing from home since August. 

I live with just my wife, but every day I am worried that I will pass the virus on to her. I also fear that by the time we return in January, many of us, including my students and fellow teachers, will be out of commission, or worse, because of the district’s mandate that every student attend for finals. While next semester will continue like the previous in having students half online and half in person, if this semester is any indication, end-of-year finals will be like the end-of-semester finals.

While news of a vaccine is positive news, I fear that once people start getting vaccinated, parents and the school board from the other side of the freeway will feel no need to continue to social distance and wear masks and will not only ignore safety protocols, but mandate that schools in the district do away with them. Regarding COVID, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but my students, their parents, and myself, are riding in the last car. 

Facebook Twitter Share

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

Work in the Time of Coronavirus

Urban Planning under Capitalism: A Testimonial

Under capitalism, public sector jobs are not exempt from pushing the agenda of the bourgeoisie. Government and capitalists are one and the same and work together to keep people poor and powerless while consolidating wealth and resources for the bourgeoisie.

A Rokeya

August 24, 2020

“It’s Now or Never”: Florida Caseworker Calls for Organizing Against Managerial Class

Left Voice speaks with a caseworker* who works in an inpatient psychiatry unit about the situation that healthcare and essential workers are facing amidst a peak in the pandemic in Florida, now with over half a million cases. A member of the Democratic Socialist of America (DSA), he talks about state and federal governments’ responsibility for the evolving crisis and the urgent need for workers to organize.

Left Voice

August 8, 2020

“We’re Part of the Reproduction of the Working Class”: Interview With An Oakland Teacher

Left Voice spoke with Michael Shane, a public school teacher and union activist in Oakland, California. He discussed what the district is doing to try and get teachers back in the classroom, how his union and others around California are responding, and why capitalism wants and needs the schools open.

Scott Cooper

August 3, 2020

“Situations Like This Are Why People Strike”: Interview with a Brooklyn Teacher

Left Voice speaks with Josh Kahn, a teacher in Brooklyn, about New York’s proposed reopening plan for schools. He says teachers need to organize to fight for the safety of workers and students in the face of a dangerous rush to put kids back in classrooms.

Left Voice

July 30, 2020


Tracking, Deportations, Internment: European Countries Go on the Hunt for Migrants

On May 10, German chancellor Olaf Scholz strengthened Germany’s anti-migrant policy. This means more deportations, border patrol reinforcements, and economic agreements with sending countries. The new policy is being deployed throughout Europe.

Leo Stella

May 25, 2023

#AllthatsLeftPod: Three Years Since the George Floyd Uprising:

In this episode of the podcast, we reflect on the 2020 George Floyd uprising, which began three years ago. We discuss how to turn the energy of a mass uprising into a sustained movement, and the kind of revolutionary leadership that's required to do so.

Left Voice

May 25, 2023

Fight Capitalism, Fight for Neurodivergent Liberation

Neurodivergent and disability liberation will have to come from the overthrow of capitalism and the building of a socialist system which values different forms of human behavior and directs resources to meeting human needs.

Sam Carliner

May 23, 2023
Prof. Gail Green-Anderson of LaGuardia Community College at a rally outside Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Manhattan office on Thursday.

Rekindling the Militant Spirit of CUNY’s Past

Mayor Eric Adams has announced an austerity budget that includes significant cuts to the City University of New York among other city agencies. In order to defeat these cuts, students, faculty, and other workers across the city must unite our struggles and be prepared to shut the university down.

James Dennis Hoff

May 22, 2023