We will get thru this and we will be better.
by Doyle Ranstrom on Apr 11, 2020
The word on the street was my 5th-grade teacher quit teaching because of me. That seems harsh, there must have been other reasons. Also, I think she bears some responsibility. She would ask me questions like, "how did you get to the back of the room?". I said I got up and walked. If she would have asked a more thoughtful question like, "why are you in the back of the room", that would have been more difficult for a 10-year-old to answer.
In retrospect, I suppose she asked the question because the rest of the class were sitting in their desks listening politely to her. Whenever I tell this story, no one seems to be surprised. I personally find this unfair but seems like I have developed somewhat of a reputation of being a wise***.
In my defense, I was ten years old, had just started a new school in a new town where my mother had just started her first year of teaching. Yes, it did come up at the dinner table quite often that I was considered to be a teacher's worst nightmare. Though some would think of this as being a criticism, I prefer to think about it as excelling at something.
The reason my mother had become a teacher in her early 40's with six kids, was her husband, my father was killed in a farm accident a few years earlier. So in her late 30's, she went to college and we eventually moved from the small farm in NW Minnesota 3 miles from the nearest farm to living in a small town in West Central Minnesota.
The official reason my father was killed in the farming accident was a truck accidentally backed over him. The unofficial and actual reason was my father was a polio survivor and was on crutches. The driver of the truck did not realize my dad was behind the truck when he started backing up, my dad on crutches, could not get out of the way. My last memory of him was dying on the kitchen floor, I was 5 1/2.
I believe there are some lessons here. For example, when is the last time you heard of someone having polio? In 1952, the year after I was born, there were almost 60,000 cases of polio, thousands were paralyzed and almost 3,000 died. This was the peak of polio cases as in the mid-1950s a vaccine was approved and being used in the public. By1979, the disease had been eliminated in the US and today almost totally throughout the world.
The eradication of polio was a combination of scientific research, public health policy, and public education.
Though it is unlikely I will still be around, when my young granddaughters are adults, I suspect they will learn about the pandemic of 2020 and be surprised about many things.
- They will learn the pandemic could have been prevented as health care experts had warned National leaders for years this was going to happen. They will learn a vaccine had been developed years before the pandemic, but the researchers could not get funding for more testing.
- They will be surprised to learn that National leaders, because of the lack of knowledge of science and scientific research along with no foresight ended up spending trillions on a health care disaster that could have been prevented.
- They will be surprised to learn there was at that time the US did not have a comprehensive public health care plan which including basic health care for all of its citizens. They will probably laugh out loud as they understand how much more than necessary the US paid for health care at that time and how inefficient the system was. They will also learn that health care workers from doctors and nurses to lab assistants and cleaning personal literally saved the US during the pandemic.
- Finally, they will be surprised to learn there was a time period when many leaders and their followers in the US did not value public education including but not limited to the understanding of science and scientific research. It will be a shock to learn teachers, who were almost always highly educated and hard-working individuals were often under-appreciated and poorly paid.
They will be surprised looking back because all this will have changed. We will get through this and we will be better. We will learn the benefit of scientific research and planning because as we just found out, the opposite is economically devastating. We will have a comprehensive public care program that includes basic health for all citizens. We will have a comprehensive academic public education program that both encourages and challenges students of all ages to learn in all areas including science.
Polio was a horrible disease that affected tens of thousands. But we, as a country, eliminated it. We will do the same with the coronavirus. If we are smart as a country, and I believe we will be, we will value and invest in quality public education and a comprehensive public health plan. This will not cost us money, but actually save us money and as we just found out, the savings could be in the trillions.
Finally, parents all over the US are understanding how hard teachers work and the value they bring in many different ways to not just their students, but all of their lives. I apologize to all the teachers who have to deal with young pain in the *** students like me and thank you for your hard work not only with them but all students. Our country is being given a lesson on how much you do for not much money.
And by the way, I have learned from youth and am no longer a wise***. That's interesting, I just noticed my nose getting bigger.
PS: If you like this message, please pass on to others, especially health care workers and teachers.