The last story I’ve seen (about a week ago), there were over 3000 students, and 250 teachers in quarantine in my state because of COVID. Most school districts start the first of second week of August. And this is in one of the lowest populated states in the eastern US.
School Startup—What’s the Hurry?
By Jack Burgess
It seems only fair to ask, “What are they thinking?” as area schools get ready to re-open. Having taught in three school districts, I wouldn’t want to be in any school right now. I’ll never forget my first week of teaching, when I ended up on Friday with strep, and nearly collapsed driving home. I learned lots of teachers get sick from all the “bugs” kids bring to school early in the year. This year that bug could be deadly. Coronavirus is picked up readily by kids and easily passed to adults—who tend to get sicker than the kids. Why some officials want to risk the lives of kids, teachers, and other school employees—and their families when they take it home–just to adhere to an artificial schedule, is beyond me.
Frankly, it’s a bit beyond me why we start school so early in Ohio anyway. Some of the states up north have laws that school can’t start before Labor Day. An Ohio Schools Boards spokesperson admitted the main reason we do it is to get kids ready for the statewide, standardized tests. It’s hard for me to believe that Ohio kids need more preparation than Michigan kids for the tests required to get Federal aid. Of course, the whole standardized testing fiasco is just a money maker for the testing corporations—and a way to make poorer school districts look bad. The national testing requirement grew out of W. Bush’s presidency and the law entitled “No Child Left Behind,” which sounded good in theory, but in practice forced schools to drop a lot of what they were doing and teach to the test. Ironically, none of the lawmakers—or test makers—ever had to take those kinds of tests. We old fogies of the 20th Century managed to invent most of the stuff we have today, create most of the major industries, start progress on civil rights—and win a couple of world wars without the benefit of the industry-developed, standardized tests.
Of course, there are other services that schools provide kids—especially feeding a lot of them. School lunches and breakfasts are great for the kids, but during this pandemic, many parents are at home and can feed the kids themselves—if they have any money. Which is where the Federal assistance money comes in. As I write this, our “friends” in Congress are debating how much assistance to provide—and whether to cut the Social Security, “payroll tax.” That cut is unnecessary, and would just create a Social Security funding problem, with the President and his supporters wanting to cut benefits. Better that they raise the ceiling on Social Security taxes—I’ll bet most billionaires would never notice an increase in their Social Security tax.
Meanwhile, schools are finding ways to provide food for kids, without bringing them in to certain danger. So, I say, what’s the hurry to get kids back, risking their lives and those of their teachers, parents, grandparents and others? The Congress, the President, the Ohio General Assembly, if they’re so worried about the kids, let’s keep them at home for now. Oh, and if our politicians are so worried about the education and knowledge of our citizens, how about we work on getting broadband internet services to every household? The internet is here to stay, and all kids and their families need access. It can be used today to augment regular education, and help adults find jobs or work from home.
Let’s have a moratorium on the for profit, standardized testing nonsense, while teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, and politicians of all stripes work to provide better schools. That would take more funding and less fault-finding with teachers and kids. In Ohio, we should stop cutting the income tax—the fairest form of taxation for schools and everything else we need—including the healthcare expansion provided under Obamacare.
Frankly, if the politicians aren’t compassionate enough to see through this scheme to risk the kids for corporate profits in testing, I’d like to see my friends in the Ohio Education Association coalesce with the Federation of Teachers to withhold their teaching services until it’s safe to go back.