Mid-August- the time when WalMart and Target ramp up the back-to-school supply advertisements, high school football teams have camps, and schools finalize class rosters. Not so much this year in the age of Coronavirus Hysteria. Not content with bringing down a vibrant economy, now fascist government leaders aided by their equally fascist teacher union allies are sounding the alarm about re-opening schools “too soon,” which often translates into never. Instead, students and families are expected to cower in their homes in front of a computer screen and learn remotely. That strategy may work in college or possibly high school (debatable), but certainly not in younger grades.
We are told to follow the advice of the experts, or “follow the science.” Yet, if that advice, the “expert,” or the science goes against the irrational preconception, then blind ignorance is the norm. In Europe, which had the worse incidences of the virus on a per capita basis, there does not seem to be this raging controversy that exists here in the United States. They plan to open with the usual guidelines- frequent sanitation and cleaning, social distancing, masks, and some disruptions to the “normal” routines.
The science also seems to indicate that although children can carry the virus, they are usually asymptomatic. This is the fear of the teachers- an unsuspecting victim will contract the disease from a student and get sick. I am not sure of the statistics of this scenario being reality. Of course, classrooms should not be an epidemiological laboratory experiment, but these social distancing/hygiene/mask wearing guidelines either work or they don’t. If, despite all this being complied with 100% and the fearful scenario becomes the reality, then I guess all these guidelines are for naught.
The reality is that by insisting on not returning to school in September, teachers are making a great case against themselves. They, and their unions, constantly rant about being overworked and underpaid, of being essential guardians of the future of this country, of being some noble profession wrought with sacrifice and little recognition. If their idea is a couple of hours of online virtual classrooms with assigned reading and some worksheets, they need to reconsider the truth of their usefulness.
Likewise, one of the mantras of the Left is universal Pre-K for all students. I have mixed feelings on the subject. Head Start is a failure of a program while private pre-K does teach some socialization skills, but is not academically all that useful. Public school pre-K can be useful in both categories if done correctly, but we know that not to be the case in most instances. This brings up an interesting conundrum with respect to the current state of affairs: How do you “teach” a pre-K, Kindergarten, or even first/second grader “remotely?” Answer: You can’t and this, ironically, undermines the argument for universal pre-K. If it is fine to suspend or do away with pre-K instruction in the wake of the coronavirus, there is no need for it in normal circumstances. If a school wants to have and can fund it, fine, but making it mandatory? Yeah… not so much.
I’ve read at least two articles here on Redstate about special needs students. Leaving aside the fact that many students carry unnecessary labels, there are legitimate special needs students. In my school alone, there are nine mentally challenged students (various degrees of Down’s syndrome) spread across two special classes, and at least 30 others in various grades (not Down’s, but autistic, epileptic, etc.). One of my best friends is an ESL teacher who found that remote learning just does not work with his 16 students. Not returning to school and having that small group or one-on-one interaction in person does these students a huge disservice.
There is also the hypocrisy of some teachers and I will use a personal example from a friend on Facebook- a third grade teacher- who posts every scaremongering screed from teachers and unions. She also often posts her own thoughts with the obligatory “OMG” comments in response. Leaving aside the fact she is also a hypochondriac, she is also a hypocrite. While arguing against returning to school, she also often posts video and pictures of her kids playing Little League baseball often sitting with the team on the bench not socially distancing and without a single mask in sight. She also seems to have no problems finding restaurants to eat out given the number of postings in this area. She is not an aberration, but the norm. Their words say one thing; there actions say quite the opposite. “That’s different,” they’ll tell you. No- you are in a social setting where you are more likely to come into contact with a person with a greater chance of having the virus.
Despite their hypocrisy and nonsensical fears, there are two silver linings. First, if there is to be remote learning in lieu of in-class instruction, parents might be more involved in what their children are learning or not learning and, equally important, how they are learning. This could be used as a groundswell of grassroots parental involvement in their child’s education. If some parents saw how multi-digit multiplication was taught, for example, they would be surprised and appalled. If they saw how some racial justice assigned reading was considered a “classic,” they might have second thoughts about public education, not to mention US history. If they saw how the politics of climate change was introduced into a science curriculum, they might demand reform.
The second silver lining is that private and parochial educators do not seem to suffer from the union-instilled fears of public school teachers. Admittedly, private/parochial education is financially foreclosed to many parents, but that is where the government can help. On a state-by-state basis, one doubts any would actually allow the funds to follow directly to parents since the unions have their hooks in them, especially the blue states. But, the federal government could do so. Expect an outcry if this ever came to pass: the big bad Trump administration is cutting school funding! No, they’re redirecting their contribution to parents to educate their children, just not in a public school setting.
One can almost guarantee, for a variety of reasons, there will be a lot of pissed off parents when this is all over. Whether that anger is channeled by moving their children into private/parochial schools, charter schools where they exist, or home-schooling remains to be seen. This is a unique opportunity in time to seize the narrative that a public education is not the be all/end all future of this country as the unions and their teacher lackeys proclaim.
Is it a challenge parents are willing to rise to? Should conservatives let this opportunity slip away?