To put it mildly, this is a challenging A few years for most parents and caregivers because of COVID- shutdowns have caused schools to switch from remote to in-person to remote (repeatedly disgusting), and even the luckiest families often find themselves desperately seeking help.
This help—or lack thereof—is the subject of a new book by NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz, A Year of the Stolen: How COVID-19 Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We’re Going Now , which tackles COVID- 10 involving many families while focusing directly and refreshingly on the experiences of children who suddenly find themselves not attending school in person, This can (for some students) be a major source of support and stability. Recently, Vogue spoke with Kamenetz about the possible long-term effects of the disruption and her work as a mother in the midst of a pandemic experience, and whom she turned to for a theory of domestic labor. Read the full interview below.
I was traveling for the first few days of March 100, when I got back, my phone rang with the news that the university was closed. Then my own kids’ school was closed, and I knew right away that if schools were closed, even for a few weeks, it was going to be a big deal. That’s because I reported and followed up in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina Years later. I’ve looked at this research and seeing children temporarily leave school also has an impact, and it doesn’t happen out of nowhere. Usually it happens during a social crisis. Studies from around the world show that the cessation of formal education has led to massive disruption. You can measure the impact after a few years, especially for older children who may have caring or work responsibilities, and children who are a little out of school when schools close. So I published an article in April in which I kind of look at the research and say, “These are the things we’re going to worry about; we’re going to be worried about rising inequality, we’re going to be worried about high school students leaving, we’re going to be worried maybe some kids’ basic needs aren’t being met.” And all of this In the end it’s all I see.
You talk about so many people in your book; how did you find them?
I’m with my two kids and I can only report from my desk, but, you know, obviously, Social media is my friend, just like any other family I end up analyzing. Two of them came to me through our call through NPR to speak to teachers who were also parents because they knew they were both stuck on this. We have received more than 100 responses. Then another family from California came to me through my newsletter. I found a recommendation for Heather in St. Louis from someone I knew from previous coverage. I just contacted a bunch of school districts.
I was particularly struck by the “Original Scream” chapter in your book. Do you feel any kind of change in our way of encouraging parents to be honest about what they’re going through during COVID-?
I think there must have been sympathy and raised awareness about mental burden. But there is a question like, are you venting or are you going to make a change? After seeing if women will actually renegotiate their relationships…I guess we’re still waiting.
I think it helps my reporting because it’s not easy to be sympathetic to anyone I interview. Not only in my subject interviews, but even in my expert interviews, a lot of empathy happened. I was talking to this economist and she said, “By the way, I’m in my closet right now because I don’t have childcare and I’m hiding from my kids.” Still, this is what the pandemic has brought about some kind of opportunity, that is: can we find some solidarity here? Because even people who might feel they don’t have to care about domestic labor politics, suddenly, they’re being implicated. It’s never really true that we’re all together, but the chance to read someone’s story and realize you have something in common.
You mention Silvia Federici and other thinkers on domestic labor in your book; who would you say you are on the topic Touchstone?
Definitely Joan C. Tronto and her work Caring for Democracy . I think this book made me think deeply about: who are citizens? Do we even have a framework that represents the interests of everyone in it? Because, you know, even something as basic as citizenship — we people in this country are the ones who can do these things, like vote, and kids can’t. So, do they count? She literally turned everything upside down, saying that the purpose of the economy is for human prosperity, so caring is not an afterthought. It’s not just a prerequisite; that’s why we do it all, right? The purpose of democracy is to distribute care responsibilities. I find it really deep and challenging.