On Monday, a group called Rochester Organization of Rank and File Teachers (RORE) held an event calling for schools to only open when it is safe as part of a "National Day of Resistance." This included demands such as 14 days of no COVID cases before schools could reopen and as you will read a whole slew of other demands. Many in our Facebook group saw we went "Live" with our members numerous times throughout the evening to share the event as it unfolded.
When we arrived at the protest, what confused us immediately is that the option of virtual learning has always been on the table for those who may have health issues or fear a return to school. The option for this group of individuals to remain safe was NEVER in question. We were curious to learn why they felt no one should go to school even though the majority of districts around Monroe county and beyond showed in parent surveys the majority of parents wanted schools to reopen physically in some capacity.
What we learned quickly was that this group of individuals were not there for the children. What the media didn't report on was the variety of other demands they wanted met as well. Their demands included:
"No reopening until the scientific data supports it"
Really? That's interesting. Ironically the science and data is in and it overwhelmingly includes reopening guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization in addition to hundreds of physicians both locally and across the country stating the benefits of opening far outweigh the risks of remaining closed.
"Safe conditions including lower class sizes, PPE, cleaning, testing, and other key protocols Equitable access to online learning"
What was interesting about this was the same people who want these things and were screaming at our group that we were "killing people," "the reason COVID numbers wouldn't go down", etc. are the same people who had children not wearing masks protesting, were all crowded within 6 ft of each other, crossed the road in an effort to attempt to "agitate" our group, and were literally screaming in our members faces and throwing their bodies into ours.
HOW SCARED ARE YOU OF THIS VIRUS IF YOU DON'T EVEN FOLLOW THE RULES YOU THINK ARE GOING TO KEEP YOU SAFE???????
YOU CAN TAKE YOUR MASK OFF REPEATEDLY, CROWD PEOPLE, TOUCH PEOPLE, AND GATHER IN A GROUP, BUT YOU CAN'T GO TO SCHOOL????
"Support for our communities and families, including canceling rents and mortgages, a moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed, and other critical social needs."
So let us get this straight, your rent or mortgage obligations are directly related to schools reopening??? This is where things started to get strange REAL QUICK. They wanted "cash assistance," and to keep our schools shut down until these types of demands were met. Our favorite sign stated that these demands needed to be met for ILLEGAL ALIENS IN OUR COUNTRY, TOO!
JUST A FYI - Parents AND teachers who want schools to reopen want to be able to work to afford all of these things. Ya know, make an honest living... We want to put a roof over our families heads and food on the table without depending on the government. What does this have to do with the reopening of schools? You got it - NOTHING!
But it got more interesting...
They also were asking for "massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening funded by taxing billionaires and Wall Street."
So those who work and actually attempt to pay their mortgage and their own bills, should now pay for everything in their community, too? As these individuals protesting sit in a rent free home and receive cash assistance, the wealthy should pick up the pieces???
Check. Got it.
Last, but not least, THE POLICE. Of course, why not involve the police in reopening school demands...makes total sense, OR NOT. Hmmm....
"Police-free schools" (and as one sign stated Police Free Communities)...
So here's the scoop -- and what is shown in our video below.
Our group stayed on the same corner of the street the entire time. Never moved.
Never went over to their side of the road.
Never invited their group over.
It was peaceful, UNTIL their group decided to come over screaming in our faces, shoving people, etc.
These are Rochester City School District TEACHERS who are in the classroom with children. They are your community members agitating citizens, bullying people, and acting out when they are not getting their way or feel they aren't being heard.
Interestingly enough, this is the status RORE posted just a couple hours earlier before the protest:
"We have gotten word there may be counter-protesters showing up at our event today.
Please: Stick to the demands (You can find them here: https://www.demandsafeschools.org/demands/)
Keep things factual and based on science.
Don't engage, we don't want to take the focus away from why we are showing up today - To keep our students, their families, and the educators who serve them safe."
DON'T ENGAGE??? THIS IS ABOUT YOUR STUDENTS, FAMILIES, AND EDUCATORS??? We hate to break the news, but mission FAILED.
All the while POLICE (over a dozen NYS Troopers & Rochester Police) monitored the situation. The same people RORE wants to DEFUND and KICK OUT OF SCHOOLS are the same people who showed up to make sure they remained safe and there was no trouble.
The only people who caused trouble was RORE as they marched across the street to agitate our group:
NOT social distancing,
NOT keeping their masks on,
NOT acting peacefully,
Putting their bodies on other people with aggression and
BULLYING parents of our group who respected completely their feelings of fear/uncertainty and their choice to distance learn. We are happy they have a virtual option and can remain safe at home.
Why can't RORE respect the parents and teachers who want to be back in the classroom?
Why did RORE turn a peaceful protest and an opportunity to work together into an unsafe situation by crossing the street with anger and aggressive behavior?
Why do you want the police out of your school and community, but they were the first ones you ran to after you instigated a problem and created an unsafe situation by heckling and agitating a group that never once crossed the street to bother you?
Is this how you show "resistance?" Bullying others and creating a hostile and dangerous situation in our community?
Are these the behaviors you are modeling to students in your classrooms?
THIS WAS NEVER ABOUT THE CHILDREN...THIS WAS ABOUT A SELFISH AGENDA...
OUR CHILDREN & COMMUNITIES ARE NOT YOUR PAWNS RORE!
Furthermore, we are asking the Rochester City School District to fully investigate the teachers involved in this incident and their behavior that lacked restraint and professionalism as they openly represented your school district to the public. This included wearing RCSD t-shirts and teachers union apparel.
These are the teachers they have in the classrooms in a school district that is already under performing and hanging by a thread. People who don't practice what they preach with masking/social distancing, bullying others, use of intimidation, and putting their hands/bodies on others to try and intimidate and get their way.
Members of our community - don't be fooled. There is a much bigger agenda going on in Rochester, across our state, and throughout our nation. And it doesn't have the best interest of children in mind...
(Photo Credits: Brian Giacchetto)
Check out additional media from today. Thank you to the news stations across Rochester for covering our perspective:
Wham 13 Coverage
WROC TV 8 Coverage
Spectrum News Coverage
WHEC 10 Coverage
To learn more about RORE and their demands check out the following links:
List of Demands