A “no classes until further notice” sign is taped to the front door of Edison Elementary School Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Utah joined more than 20 other states Tuesday in canceling classes at public schools for the rest of the school year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Students will finish the year doing mostly online assignments to avoid the risk of crowded classrooms, Gov. Gary Herbert said. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
My California school district, like many others, has been all over the map when it comes to reopening schools. We’ve delayed a return to the classroom three times already. As we prepare to return to some type of modified in-person instruction on October 13th (which still feels completely unnecessary, but desperate parents will take anything at this point), we received a notice from our school board that the teachers unions have requested we push reopening back to January of 2021.
I wondered why they would be interested in pushing back to January. A November date I get…elections and all that. But January? That seemed weird unless it was just another stall tactic and the intent is to just keep pushing back all the way to fall of 2021. January is inauguration month. If Biden/Harris win, our economy will open as soon as they take office, and that includes school. COVID will completely disappear because they will need a thriving economy to run in 2024. So now it all makes sense. The unions are certain Biden is going to win this thing.
But I digress. The point is that parents anxiously awaiting some type of relief from the educators they’re still paying for through all this nonsense were enraged at this news. A call went out and parents showed up at our local district office to protest. Enough is enough. I wrote a letter to my district. I tried to encapsulate the rage and fury of parents. At every turn our teachers unions tell us this is all about the kids, the kids are the most important thing, we only care about the kids, KID KIDS KIDS KIDS KIDS!
There are far more students in America than teachers, and yet we are bending over backwards to accommodate the teachers while giving the students no input at all. Our kids come last in public schooling and while this isn’t new, this is perhaps the first time in history this has been so glaringly obvious.
Here is a reprint of my letter originally published at Medium. Unfortunately being Editor-at-Large for a blog called Redstate often means people will treat my arguments with wrathful prejudice before they even read my words. I didn’t want it to be considered a partisan letter, but now that it’s out there I wanted to share it with Redstate readers. If you are going through similar struggles and looking for words to express your disappointment, please feel free to repackage this letter for your own local district, or simply send it to them as-is with an explanation that this applies to you as well.
Even if you feel like no one hears you, you can make a difference. Just this morning we received word from our district leaders that they have no intention of hearing this proposal and school will move forward with opening as scheduled. Of course we’ve all seen how fast things change, but at least we know that today our voices were heard. May we all be heard loudly and clearly this election cycle.
To school board officials and teachers at Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County, CA.
All along this bizarre journey we have been told that education is about the children, and yet it is the children and parents who have been consistently placed last in these considerations. You may tell us it is for their safety, but we no longer believe this. Not only because there is currently overwhelming evidence that children are not particularly vulnerable to COVID nor are they particularly effective carriers, but also because we are now looking at a string of broken promises from our state and district school leaders.
While parents have given up their work or simply been forced to leave their children home alone, they’ve done that very painful thing with the knowledge that school would return soon. First in the spring, then at the end of summer, and now in the fall…which is under threat with yet another delay until January of 2021. Under no circumstances is that time frame acceptable to parents or our children.
While the teacher’s unions and district staff assure us this is all about students, our children continue to be isolated from peers, denied their typical social structures and school activities like sports and creative arts.
They are being stripped of vital developmental interactions, the kind that will help propel them through the grade school-to-collegiate system. This is the system we are all told we have to work within to achieve future academic opportunities. We currently stand on the precipice of wiping out those opportunities for an entire class of students. Those who are depending on sports or club scholarships, those who have sacrificed so much of their bodies and their time to perfect their chosen crafts to move on to college…those students are being robbed of all this. Yet you continue to allow this chaos as parents become more and more desperate; as we watch our precious children sink further into depression, discouragement and fall behind in vital work.
While we understand the pleas of teacher representatives to consider the health and safety of staff and classroom educators, this is yet one more example of how the kids are coming last. There are far more students in our district than teachers. If public school is all about the kids, why are their needs coming last? It is certainly understandable that some staff simply don’t feel comfortable returning to the classroom. Those who don’t should give up their jobs in favor of another line of work that might accommodate their health needs. After all, we parents have been giving up our work to accommodate the needs of CUSD staff and teachers. Sometimes you don’t get to do the work you want to do because circumstances simply don’t allow it. I’m not sure why CUSD teachers should be any different than the rest of us. Perhaps another option would be to instead let the vulnerable teachers to Zoom into the classroom, rather than expecting thousands of students to Zoom into the teacher.
There are options here, but yet another closure is not one. I think I speak for a majority of CUSD parents when I say we’ve had enough of this. Our voices seem to be the least important, even though without our children there is no such thing as school. The lack of empathy from the district to even be considering another pushback so late in the year is shocking and disappointing.
We have done everything asked of us and more. We’ve supported our teachers, rallied to figure out how to manage our children’s education and the work that puts food on our tables. We’ve been nothing but cooperative, patient and understanding. The favor has not been returned.
The parents of CUSD demand an immediate return to in-person classes, and we insist that this latest attempt to push back the reopening until next year (particularly when there is little evidence that is even necessary as a health-measure) be abandoned. We’ve been here for you…it’s time for you to be here for us.
If you need to make special arrangements with teachers who don’t feel good about returning, then do that. Do not make our children responsible for the well-being of grown adults who can make their own decisions about where and when they want to work. Our children do not deserve this and each day we wait to return to their routines is another day their bonds weaken and their spirits sink.
While parents sacrifice work and pay to keep their children home, staff continue to receive full pay and benefits. We understand teachers have been struggling to readjust and we admire that, but this arrangement is starting to feel grossly lopsided.
Enough is enough. This is unsustainable. No one can live in this type of uncertainty for this long without dire consequences, particularly a child. If we want to avoid a mass exodus from our public system, and perhaps school board election consequences, send our children back to school in October as promised.
Kira A. Davis, CUSD mother