Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl Defends Teachers Amid School Reopening Debate

The musician also criticized Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her lack of experience in an op-ed for The Atlantic

Dave Grohl may be known more for writing song lyrics than op-eds, but the Foo Fighters frontman penned a piece for The Atlantic Tuesday defending teachers amid the debate over whether to reopen schools as the coronavirus pandemic rages.

Grohl has a personal connection with teachers; his mother is a retired public school educator. In his piece, Grohl outlined the challenges she faced: raising children on a meager salary, working a demanding job, and educating large classes with few resources. He wrote, “over the years, I have come to notice that teachers share a special bond, because there aren’t too many people who truly understand their unique challenges–challenges that go far beyond just pen and paper. Today, those challenges could mean life or death for some.”

Grohl’s mother provided a list of reopening-related challenges educators will face when trying to serve kids as the pandemic continues: “masks and distancing, temperature checks, crowded busing, crowded hallways, sports, air-conditioning systems, lunchrooms, public restrooms, janitorial staff.”

“Most schools already struggle from a lack of resources; how could they possibly afford the mountain of safety measures that will need to be in place? And although the average age of a schoolteacher in the United States is in the early 40s, putting them in a lower-risk group, many career teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, nurses, and janitors are older and at higher risk. Every school’s working faculty is a considerable percentage of its population, and should be safeguarded appropriately,” he explained.

From there, Grohl took on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, though he’s hardly the first public figure to take issue with her stance that schools should reopen, but should individually be in charge of how they handle safety measures. He even name-dropped his former band Nirvana’s biggest hit.

“I wouldn’t trust the U.S. secretary of percussion to tell me how to play ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ if they had never sat behind a drum set, so why should any teacher trust Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to tell them how to teach, without her ever having sat at the head of a class? (Maybe she should switch to the drums.),” he said.

He concluded, “Until you have spent countless days in a classroom devoting your time and energy to becoming that lifelong mentor to generations of otherwise disengaged students, you must listen to those who have. Teachers want to teach, not die, and we should support and protect them like the national treasures that they are.”

You can read Grohl’s piece here or listen below: