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LEWIS: Putting my money where my mouth is
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LEWIS: Putting my money where my mouth is

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I am a firm believer in the idea you” don’t ask others to do what you’re not afraid to do yourself.” I was recently reminded of this when I dropped off my oldest son at football practice. I thought about him out in the heat exercising while I went about my day in the relative comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle and buildings.

In the spirit of not wanting to be a hypocrite, I decided to join my boy and his teammates, not at the actual practice, but by putting on my running shoes and exploring the new trail park that is being built next to the school.

As I ran, I had a thought that kept repeating itself over and over with every stride I took:

”Put your money where your mouth is.”

“Put your money where your mouth is.”

I thought about how this coming fall we, as parents, would, in all likelihood, be asking our children to go back to school and expose themselves and their fellow students to this new and largely unknown virus.

“Put your money where your mouth is.”

I thought about how we are asking our teachers to step back into an environment that is at best exposing them to a higher chance of catching Covid-19 and how at worst it is a potential death sentence for them or those they care about.

“Put your money where your mouth is.”

I thought about how all the other duties teachers must now perform that have little to do with actual education and how the one thing that they are not is healthcare workers, practiced in the science of infectious risk mitigation. Yet we are literally asking them to become so now.

“Put your money where your mouth is.”

I took a visual inventory of the school’s campus. I imagined this area would soon be full of high-energy teenagers doing what teenagers do and largely oblivious to the potential dangers of spreading the virus. It wouldn’t matter how many stickers were put on the floor, or lectures were given, or hand washing stations were installed or whatever other attempts at mitigation were implemented, the simple fact is, “kids would be kids.”

“Put your money where your mouth is.”

I then remembered the article I had read earlier in the day about the projected staffing shortage of 5% of teachers and staff not returning to work this year the various other staffing shortages the schools would face and it was then that I decided to do something about it:

I decided the least I could do is “put my money where my mouth is.”

I decided to sign up to be a substitute teacher this year. If I am going to ask my kids and their teachers to step up and face these dangers, the least I can do is face those dangers with them.

I am now offering you that same challenge:

“Put your money where your mouth is” and register to be a substitute teacher or paraprofessional or bus driver or whatever else you may be qualified to do to help educate our kids. If you if believe that children need to be back in school this year as normal, then step up and put your money where your mouth is and be part of the solution.

Disclaimer: This doesn’t apply to those of you who work jobs that are 8 or 9 to 5 or whatever are your regular hours. Nor does it apply to those with health concerns nor to those who are primary caregivers or those with whatever valid reason you might have for not being able to give back to the community in this manner.

I am speaking to those of you who have flexible jobs or own your own business or otherwise have the occasional day you could block out until roughly 3 p.m. and actually get paid to help out and relieve some of the pressure off our already overburdened schools staff and children.

You can pick the days you are available to work and even the subjects you would like to teach.

You will be getting paid while ensuring our children are able to continue their education.

I am particularly speaking to those of you who think the risk is minimal or that rewards outweigh any potential danger.

Remember the words of General George S. Patton when he said, “ Do everything you ask for those in your command.”

I am literally saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”

Chad Lewis is a former member of the Rapid City Council.

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