Education, Experiential Learning, Workforce

Work it Wednesday: I survived and I’m back…sorta

What this is

This is a weekly, curated blog about my thoughts and predictions for the workforce and education space.  My writing is from the perspective of a 1st generation high school and college graduate mom trying to stay afloat and in pace with the new landscape, post-covid. So, if you’re wondering what the new United States high school, higher education and/or workforce environment will look like for your child, check out my blog. 

I recently checked out my WordPress site for my ‘workforce and education’ blog and noticed the last blog post was July 2020. Wow!  Although, I am grateful I made it through Spring 2020 with the frenzy of a lockdown, closed schools, curbside grocery shopping (I inspected and pre-washed everything like a crazy person—even the boxed Ritz crackers); but homeschooling while working from home was an all together overwhelming and humbling experience.  I think by July 2020, I was official burnt out. Education for myself, my kids and the workforce landscape went out the window: we were in a pseudo survival mode.

We began homeschooling Fall 2020 with some boundaries (electronics, the non-educational ones for a certain period). And, dress up like we were going to work/school (right). Well, that worked for about a few months where like many of us pajamas became the daily attire ( I actually enjoyed watching my neighbor in his robe walking his cute puppies).

Here is a pic of my kids and me trying to normalize the ‘new first school day’ for my kids Fall 2021 while sitting on our front porch.

As Spring 2021 approached , my sense of hope and faith in our 1st world country and the blessing of access to vaccines had me so giddy, I couldn’t sleep.  I schedule vaccines for moth my parents at two separate pharmacies, took time off from work and then waited and waited for the vaccines for my 12 year old and younger kiddo to arrive. Summer 2021 felt safe before the Delta variant arrived so we traveled to California for a previously-postponed wedding.  It was lovely to socialize with folks and see ‘familia’.  I loved June.

Then, like the calm before a tropical storm or hurricane (I grew up near South Padre Island, Texas and have witnessed the chilling silence —no birds or animals can be seen or hear—prior to a storm) July showed up.  It reminded me of the the scary clown jumping out of the closet (some of you may have this fear of clowns and I am the text-book definition). My husband and I began receiving notices for testing, surveys to test or not test, to require mask for children or not require mask for kids.  Emails, phone calls and regular mail filled our life in the few weeks before school began, which by the way was like the first week in August (eeek!). 

As parents, we had not thought our kids really were going to need a vaccine this early in the year. What was wrong with us?! So we spent all of August through early November, or at least I know I did, worried sick, not sleeping and repeating every day to them and each other how to keep use your mask appropriately and ‘‘wash and wash’ wash and wash’ your hands. In talking to other parents, we felt like we were overwhelming our kids but knew it was for their safety. It was a horrible time to be a parent with kids who couldn’t get vaccinated. Receiving the text messages announcing result testing for your child’s weekly Covid test became the day to prepare for the ‘what if?’. And, when that day came for my son, when he did show signs of illness and was positive, all I could do was cry. The pediatrician suggested we stay home until he couldn’t breathe, then head to the hospital (that’s all they could advise).

All other life seemed to get back to normal, or at least for those who had older kids, and gatherings re-surfaced. Unless you had a newborn or a child right under age 12, it seemed there was no understanding as to why I had to constantly decline parties/gatherings (uuuughh, I can’t risk getting sick because although I’m vaccinated, I could get my kid sick enough where they may die—-doesn’t bode well for a festive conversation, you know?)

Because kids had spent Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 doing remote schooling, all kids were to head back face-to-face with what seemed a slew of safety protocols. Simultaneously, school board room filled up with anti-vaxxers and anti-mask wearing for children; some of the protesters weren’t even parents but felt it was their God-given and American right to taunt ‘us’, the real parents both at the boardroom and outside schools. As I type this I shake my head.

Needless to say, our children along with the students I serve for my community college day job suffered tremendous setbacks. And, even though I know this is a long-term impact, I know we are luckier than others who lost immediate family members and children. I still think back to the high school counselor I spoke commenting, “…we will feel the fallout from this pandemic for generations.”

For my next blog, I’ll delve into how the future of education has been turned upside down, for the good in my opinion. Until then, be on the lookout for my #workitwednesday blog next week. (I’ll be sure to set up a place for you to sign up to receive this in your inbox by then.) Take care and keep on living and learning.

Education

Work it Wednesday: Increasing Inflation & Wages

Stock Market Picture

This is a bi-monthly, curated blog about my thoughts and predictions for the workforce and education space.  My writing is from the perspective of a 1st generation high school and college graduate mom trying to stay afloat and in pace with the new landscape, post-covid. So, if you’re wondering what the new United States high school, higher education and/or workforce environment will look like for your child, check out my blog. 

Inflation

With epic inflation hitting everyone’s wallet, I am worried worry as the fam and I venture out for our summer road trip—one that has been on hold for the 2 last summers. Everything along the way will cost us more: good, gasoline, overnight stays, etc. We are bracing for our upcoming trip and have tried to prepare in advance as much as possible.

I did read an article highlighting the end of the ‘Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy‘ where the writer explained that inflation, high gas prices and tight labor markets are a great recipe for some of the sticker shocks we’ve seen at stores. But he also delved into the Uber, Peloton and Door Dash companies who could afford to lose money on the short term, with near, zero interest rates, so consumers could be charged way less for lots of items if it meant companies were cultivating their customer base (this seemed to be going on this past decade). And, so they did (I now have more food delivery apps on my phone than I would like to admit). He called this phenomena a subsidy—one that with high inflation and higher rates is no longer sustainable.

Wages

What is of particular interest to me in the above-mentioned article is that wages are coming up for folks who need it the most even though the United States hasn’t raised the minimum wage since July 2009. Cities across the country began implementing living wages around 2012 due to the ‘Fight for $15‘ begun by fast food workers. Cities saw most low-level service jobs couldn’t survive if employees were not compensated well enough to obtain housing and/or transportation so they could live and get to their job. A lot of communities were not going to wait for the feds to raise the minimum wage.

Wages + Students

A great number of students earning the same higher wages were high school students who worked more during the pandemic and continue to do so to help out their families with income. Some of these students liked the paycheck and decided to dropout of high school completely so they can continue working. While this may seem good for the workforce in the short-term (more higher earning youth contributing to local economy), the long-term implications are not good. As we know drop rates signify multiple harmful life outcomes: an overall lifetime of low earnings, low number of college attainment, and non-high school drop outs have better health outcomes and longer life expectancy than those who drop out.

Enjoy your summer and be on the lookout for my #workitwednesday blog in two weeks. Take care and keep on living and learning.