MULTIPLE CHOICE

It’s Friday, July 17, 2020. It’s 109 days until Election Day.

It’s the 118th anniversary of air conditioning.

Willis Carrier unveiled the first plans for a devised that lowered both the temperature and humidity in the space in which it operated.

As we in New York prepare to hang out at home in the midst of the summer’s worst heatwave, appreciation of Carrier is in order.

Your kids carry your hopes and dreams. They’re the extension of your families into – hopefully – the 22nd century. They’re the manifestation of love itself.

So it’s quite understandable that many of you are pissed about having to decide whether or not to send them to school in the midst of this cursed pandemic.

If my kids were young enough, I’d be very leery of sending them back. And that leeriness would come as a surprise to them, since they thought of me as the evil parent who would have them in school 24/7/365 if he could.

And I live in New York. The virus, right now, isn’t nearly as bad here as it is elsewhere – or as it was here just a few months ago. School districts in areas where schools will be allowed to open have until the end of the month to develop plans for the safety of the kids attending.

So those of you around the country in places where COVID is rampant are probably even more reluctant to risk it.

The problem is that kids need an education. They need to go to school. And you know that.

When COVID-19 led to shutdowns in March, we first thought the disruption would last a few weeks. Maybe. Then we thought it would last a few months. Then we realized the rest of the 2019-2020 school year was lost.

But even then, there was no conception of what to do about the 2020-2021 year. Because no one knew what would happen to the virus. Would it just disappear with the warm weather or would it do, well, what it’s done, spread further and wider?

So there’s been no effort to plan for this school year in the event so many of us decided to keep our kids safe at home.

What’s needed here is some guidance on a national level. It would be nice if there’s some kind of federal Department of Education to establish curriculum standards and facilitate methods of delivery. That might help state and local officials develop plans they could adapt to their own requirements.

Instead, we have some organization with the title Department of Education. But its purpose under Trump collaborator Betsy DeVos is to fulfill her master’s political wishes.

So instead of solving the problem, DeVos’ mission is to parrot the open-at-all-costs mantra Trump believes he needs to win re-election.

Forget about them.

The lack of coordination and emphasis on kids learning, rather than on getting their bodies into a possibly virus-infested building, is another failure in this crisis.

State and local education departments – in conjunction with teachers and other professionals – should be establishing on a child-by-child basis the alternatives to in-person learning. Taking into account grade level, economic situation and special needs, and then formulating a plan to make that work.

Parents can’t be expected to teach kids themselves – particularly if they either work at home or actually have to go to a job. With sufficient planning and follow-through from educators, a little creative use of technology, it’s hard to believe kids can’t learn effectively.

But it was going to take an effort – a real effort – to accomplish this. And more than a little money.

Which goes back to how much of a priority education is. Unfortunately, it’s not that much,

For now, I don’t know that it helps any of the parents wrestling with what to do about their kids this fall. But someone should be thinking about how to help them out, instead of making them feel as though they can’t help the most precious parts of their lives.

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