Dear Mr. President,
Today is International Women’s Day, and I am staying home from work. Not because I took the day off–I don’t really have that luxury. I just got the day off because my employers gave it to me. But I figured I could take the morning and tell you a little about my work, since you Tweet that you “respect” it so much.
For money, I am a pediatric nurse. The children I care for are called “medically fragile”. These are the kids who can’t move anything except their eyes, and maybe one thumb on a good day. These kids have feeding tubes, and wheelchairs, and machines that breathe for them. Their equipment is insanely expensive. Without adequate government-provided healthcare, no family can afford what these kids need. Without adequately funded scientific research, no one can prevent or cure the diseases these children have. And without access to women’s healthcare programs, genetic counseling, and birth control, parents who carry the genes that cause such genetic disorders run the risk of having more than one child with a debilitating disease.
I go to school with these children. They need a special school filled with adaptive technology. Private schools are not required to offer the sort of interventions these children need. Betsy DeVos clearly has a limited understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and her current “confusion”, unless corrected, will strand the kids I care for.
Just as an aside: most of the nurses who do this difficult job are immigrants from the Philippines, Haiti, Jamaica and China. You see, white American-born nurses are the minority in this line of work. Not because immigrants take the jobs away from American-born—but because the American-born don’t want the job. Excuses I’ve heard: “heartbreaking”, “too hard” (the kids and their equipment is heavy—and we carry it from class to class), and “boring”.
Interestingly, though I earn more than FOUR TIMES THE MINIMUM WAGE, my salary cannot support our family. Not because we spend it on country clubs and golf outings. Nope. Our big expenditure is childcare, especially in the summer, when I work and the kids don’t have school. Thank goodness, during the school year, my kids go to a FREE PUBLIC SCHOOL.
Oh, and BTW, my healthcare job doesn’t come with health insurance.
Nursing’s just what I do full time for money. For no pay I’ve written a successful $60,000 grant to build a playground in my underserved neighborhood. The other mothers and I schooled ourselves in the minutiae of playground design, raised even more money, and got a state of the art playground built in less than a year. The kind of thing you wish your tax dollars took care of, but just don’t for some reason.
And when I get home, I care for my two children, cook, clean, garden, chauffeur….you know, that stuff you and Melania hire people to do for you.
Lately, I’ve had another part time job. I have been spending hours in the evening keeping track of and resisting dangerous legislation that threatens my children. Cuts to education funding, inappropriate cabinet appointees, rollbacks on gun safety, and the gutting of environmental protections. You see, as a mom, I don’t want my kids shot by a mentally ill person, poisoned by lead in their drinking water, or suffering a mega-storm, wildfire, or drought brought on by global climate change. I’d like them to grow up in a world with wilderness, and clean air, animals and polar ice caps. Call me crazy.
Well, that’s just a few reasons why my work is important. Now show me you respect it. Protect my children’s free, quality public education. Protect the environment so my kids and grandkids have a decent world to live in. Protect my children’s health.
I dare you.