We are about to make a horrible mistake. In numerous parts of the country, grade-schoolers will be going back to school on a less than regular basis or worse, not at all. We are regularly being lectured by many of our elites; we must follow the science. Yet, some of the same people have willfully ignored it. President Trump is excoriated for merely pointing out our children need to be in school. Already our children have fallen behind by up to a half year. This loss falls most heavily on our most vulnerable. We’ve found the younger the student, the less well distance learning works. The American Academy of Pediatrics has pointed out how important it is for children to be in school. Not only for education but also for social development they want the kids in school. If we don’t get them in school this fall, they may never catch up. This would be a devastating loss for our children and for our country.
The odd thing is we are having this conversation at all. There never was a coherent reason for closing the schools in the first place. Sweden never closed its primary schools. Its neighbors, Denmark and Norway, have been re-opened for months. Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg has asked, “Was it necessary to close the schools?” She answered her own question, “Perhaps not.” In any case, they all opened without significant problems. A recent study showed schools in Finland closed schools between March 18 and May 13 while Sweden’s schools remained open. Despite that, the authors concluded, “Closing of schools had no measurable effect on the number of cases of COVID-19 among children.” It seems the worldwide consensus is the danger of keeping kids out of school far outweighs the risks of being in school. After all, the data shows children are much less affected by Covid-19 and spread it less.
Given the data, schools across the nation need to be formulating plans to open at least primary schools ASAP. There may be Covid-19 flareups in individual districts, but the goal has to be open all as soon and as much as possible. As in other countries, some employees, from teachers to bus drivers, may have pre-existing conditions that preclude their physical presence. If they can’t contribute remotely, they will need to be replaced. With double-digit unemployment, substitutes should be available. Any problems such as supplies and testing need to be identified so help can be delivered in a timely fashion. The Federal government could anticipate needs and be ready to backstop. The big thing is everyone needs to commit to getting the kids back in school. The assumption has to be we are going to be open in the fall.
Yet, from coast to coast, many parents have no idea when or if their schools are opening. As I pointed out, the administration is committed to the schools being open. However, primary and secondary education is local. The President can prod but can’t force schools to open. He can use federal funds as a carrot or stick, but he can’t open the schools. State and local governments have to take hold.
So why is there so much foot-dragging? The press has seemingly played up every instance of a young person or teacher getting sick. Remember, for the media, “If it bleeds, it leads.” For example, an Arizona teacher in a summer program died from the disease. The press took this all the way to a white house briefing. It was used to show teachers were in mortal danger if they go back to work. What was generally left out of the story was the teacher was asthmatic and had other underlying conditions. Obesity also might’ve been a factor, judging by her picture. In short, she was precisely the type of person who should be in lockdown, not in class. A very rare breathing problem in children was blown all out of proportion. Teachers and students are making it work overseas, so why not here.
The question has to be, why were these incidents not put in the proper context? Why haven’t overseas school opening experience been
widely disseminated? For some reason, the teacher’s unions have been holding back. Many Democratic politicians seem much less enthusiastic about getting the kids in classrooms sooner rather than later.
Could politics be playing a part? The state of the economy always looms big in an election year. It’s a fact the economy can hardly get into full swing without the kids in schools so parents can return to work. Teachers’ unions are one of them or the principal support of the Democratic party. Could they be using children as pawns?
There was a time when it was “all about the children.” Today it’s not so much. A petty criminal and drug addict, George Floyd, is given three funerals. His death was the impetus of mass rallies and marches. Meanwhile, innocent children are regularly shot in minority neighborhoods. Worse it is increasing, with children down do one-year-olds dying. Nobody should die like Floyd, but babies shouldn’t either. Where is the balance?
In making demands for reforming and maybe de-funding police departments, many adherents are pointing to Camden, N.J. The city replaced its department with a totally new organization with mandatory reapplication and retraining for even for experienced officers. Crime went down. What is left out of the Camden story is schools were also reformed at the same time. Now a majority of Camden’s students attend charter or similar renaissance schools. Both hire their own teachers and run their own programs. They bypass the teacher’s unions, and the schools have shown real progress. As more children do better in school, they are less likely to get in trouble. Working towards a future change a kid’s direction. Undoubtedly as more kids improve the less, they’re involved with crime. In our rush to reform, let’s not forget the children. School choice worked in Camden, and it works wherever it’s tried.
Our children need to be in school. Just as important, they need to be in a quality school. If some schools refuse to open in a timely fashion, maybe the educational funds should follow the student to a school that’s open and ready to teach. For instance, the Archdiocese of Chicago has posted its plan to re-open its schools. At least they and other private and charter schools take their job seriously. Of course, children have to avoid being shot to attend. The last ones we should short change are our children.