Friday, May 15, 2020
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The Hawaii State Teachers Association launched a TV and digital campaign Friday to highlight the many contributions educators across the state have made to their students and communities while school facilities have been closed during the pandemic.
Called “Distance Cannot Separate Us,” the 30-second television commercial and social media ads feature photos and videos of HSTA members teaching classes remotely from their homes, creating videos for students, making personal protective equipment, giving away food at community events, and more.
“Many teachers have told me they are working harder than ever,” during the virus crisis, said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. “Since the community can’t actually visit our classrooms, HSTA hopes this TV and digital ad campaign will allow Hawaii to see the amazing work our teachers are doing to educate our keiki while also helping to take care of our greater community.”
Dana Shishido, a third-grade teacher at Wheeler Elementary and a member of HSTA’s Board of Directors, recorded the narration for the TV spot.
“I have always spoken up for my colleagues,” said Shishido, who’s completing her 30th year in the classroom. “This time it was different, as I was able to show the ‘hearts’ of teachers, and help to shine a light on us during this difficult time.”
Shishido's narration unfolds as photo and video images of teachers are displayed in the spot: “To our dear keiki, your public school teachers want you to know that distance cannot separate us. We’re finding new ways to support you and your families. We’re overcoming challenges and learning valuable lessons, together. We miss you and once it’s safe, we can’t wait to welcome you back. Until then, stay healthy and know that we’re here for you. Always.”
The TV commercial runs from May 15 through May 31 on KHON2, KGMB, KHNL, and KITV during prime-time programs as well as morning, midday, and evening newscasts. Spectrum cable customers will be able to see the spot on CNN, FX, Food, TLC, and Paramount networks.
Digital ads are appearing on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii News Now, and KHON2 websites, linking to stories and more images of educators doing their best for students and the community during the pandemic.
The National Education Association and the National PTA on Thursday announced a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to encourage support for a federal coronavirus relief package that includes designated funding for schools.
It's part of a broader push to link that aid to the need to safely reopen schools that were shuttered this spring to contain the spread of the virus.
The first ad, called "School Is Where the Heart Is," directs viewers to a website that helps them contact members of Congress in support of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.
That bill, proposed by House Democrats this week, would create a $90 billion "state fiscal stabilization fund" for the U.S. Department of Education to distribute to K–12 schools and higher education. It would also provide nearly $1 billion to shore up general state and local budgets, which governors say is necessary to help avoid cuts to education spending. That's on top of aid from the CARES Act, a previous relief bill.
"We are already hearing people say it's dead on arrival," NEA President Lily Eskelsen García told reporters in a conference call Thursday. "We are hearing that [President] Donald Trump is not supportive of this, so we have got to make our voices heard now."
The ad buy comes as state and federal leaders discuss how to reopen school buildings that were shuttered to contain the pandemic. Doing so safely will require federal aid to offset additional staffing costs associated with social distancing, meeting students' mental health needs after an extended time away, and even running additional school buses so that students can sit further apart, said Eskelsen García and National PTA President Leslie Boggs.
The leaders criticized Trump's insistence this week that schools should reopen. He made those comments in response to the nation's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who testified before Congress Tuesday that states should be careful to meet federal reopening criteria before opening businesses and schools.
"I think I can say safely for our 3 million members that, oh Lord yes, we are desperate to go back to school ... but that's only going to happen when we can go back safely," Eskelsen García said.
The organizations also plan virtual "Red for Ed” rallies, echoing state-level teacher activism in recent years.
Leaders said they hope to capitalize on recent data showing public support for teachers.
"We've never felt the level of support from parents that we are feeling now, and that's because the connection we have is so important and so personal," Eskelsen García said.
In response to an April 30 poll conducted by GBAO Strategies on behalf of the NEA, 88 percent of parents said they approved or strongly approved of how their child's teacher is handling the pandemic. That's a higher level of approval than governors, principals, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got in the poll.
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