The Answer Is Becoming Increasingly Apparent

The question that came to the forefront last week and is gnawing at American parents of K-12 students is what to do about the school year that is about to commence. Liberal that I am; the answer is conservative and gets more apparent with each passing day. Let’s explore.

OK, I teased you enough with the opening paragraph and now I’ll give you the answer and then spent the rest of the article justifying it: keep your student(s) at home.

Many school districts are offering hybrid plans one option of which is online learning. While it probably is your student’s least favorite option and in most cases will not be the best academic option (in some cases close to useless) it will have one major and overriding result: your student will be alive. The current pandemic is in some cases lethal. You, your student and no other member(s) of your family can die from a disease that is not introduced into the “environment”. Let’s go over a few objections to total online school.

My child hates it

Let this be a life lesson that in order to be successful you will have to do a lot of things you don’t particularly relish the idea of.

My child doesn’t learn well that way

That may well be true and in the worst case scenario some will need to repeat a grade or subject(s). What is better to die while passing or graduate high school at 19 versus 18?

My child loves the social life of the in school experience

There is no doubt Zoom and a computer screen cannot replicate friendships and kissing your crush between periods but would you trade their or another family member’s life for some giggles or handholding?

My child will be a senior and they need a good sports season to get recruited

Being a former high school and college basketball coach I’m especially sensitive to this one. My main job at the college level was recruiting. That was a long time ago and if anything I know the process has gotten even more sophisticated in the interim. By the time an athlete has reached their senior year, well before the first contest of their senior year, if they are going to scholarship at the highest levels it is only a matter of which school; not a matter of if they will be offered that scholarship. If there is no senior season (fall sports are in serious jeopardy already) the lower ranks – which are often non-scholarship – will be filled largely by previous performance and communication between high school and college coaches.

The bottom line is colleges can only field live athletes.

My child has a serious learning/social challenge and will go backwards without in classroom instruction

This is the most serious and challenging circumstance I have heard advanced by parents and teachers (all of whom, in a non-existent perfect world, want to get back in the classroom and teach). Again this is a safety first situation. It will be heartbreaking to see regression instead of progress but that beats death.

Respect

In 1967 the late Aretha Franklin recorded arguably her most famous song, Respect, in which she spelled out the word and made the case that it was the key to relationships. I will argue that we are dealing with that exact same situation when it comes to how to reopen schools this fall and what the true motivations of many actors are.

Why are many private schools going full steam ahead?

The reality is that many of today’s private schools are little more than right wing mythology indoctrination centers. They have very little to do with education. They simply want to indoctrinate young minds and the last thing they want to teach are critical learning skills. Especially under Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betty DeVos, federal funds are increasingly being channeled to them and they cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds.

What about the teachers’ health?

The right wing – today in the “person” of the Republican Party and Donald Trump – has long been at war with public education and that very much includes professional educators. Teachers in traditional public schools are most often unionized, highly educated and liberal. They are the greatest threat to the third pillar of the current GOP: the promotion of ignorance. Any plan that keeps them in the classroom and increases their exposure to the virus is good in the minds of those who wish them gone. The right wing has no respect for their or their family’s lives.

One of the best protest signs I saw was held by a young teacher said, “I Can’t Teach From The Grave.” What the sign’s holder neglected to take into account was that her death and the deaths of her colleagues may well be the Trump administration’s objective.

Sorry son; you don’t vote

I’m somewhat showing my age with this one; I purloined it from the dialog surrounding the debate over allowing 18 year olds to vote. The reality is that we have learned that younger people can contract COVID-19 as well as transmit it. Therefore we are putting them in peril by putting them back in classrooms. The reality is that the Trump administration doesn’t care about them because the vast majority of them will not be eligible to vote this year and Trump (personally) only thinks in the short run. Other than being pawns in this culture war they are useless and rather superfluous to him. Furthermore if they should learn critical thinking they are a potential threat to the GOP which is why they don’t care about them either.

I happen to respect K-12 students; they are the future and in two instances are my grandchildren.

Wearing a mask

Somehow not wearing a mask has become a political statement – at least for the most fervent Trump supporters. I wear a mask on the rare occasions I venture out in public and have for months. I don’t particularly like it but I feel it is the prudent conservative action to take. If I’m incorrect and wearing a mask is unnecessary it is an inconvenience; if not wearing one is a mistake there will be death.

While I may disagree politically with many of my fellow Americas I respect them. The mask protects the wearer the least and the people they come into contact with the most.

A Brief Conclusion

As usual I went on too long and was still incomplete. The decision is becoming increasingly apparent – there is no future for a dead child and your federal government doesn’t care. Sadly in too many cases your state government is led by a sycophant who certainly doesn’t care about you, your child or your family.

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