In response to Pam Kirby’s recent commentary (“We must reopen schools to protect our children’s future,” Daily Independent, Oct. 14, 2020), I’d like to offer a few observations. I’m a retired high school teacher, by the way.
Her first statement is that the COVID-19 virus is on a downward trajectory in Arizona. The pandemic is raging all across the country, depending on where people are gathering for events, not wearing masks and spreading the disease to people in their own states as well as to other areas.
Scientists, doctors and pediatricians agree that unless a school is equipped to follow safety protocols, which includes small classes with students seated at least six feet apart, wearing masks all day, not touching one another or coming in close contact with others while passing in the halls, making sure the schools have adequate ventilation, teachers must also be masked and remain in front of the room without getting close to the students, then they can safely reopen. Keep in mind over 100 babies have died due to COVID-19.
It’s not a lot out of our total population, but children and babies do die, and I wouldn’t want my grandchildren to be among the dead due to them losing some time in school. I promise you, no one year is critical to a student’s academic learning. I’ve had kids who came back to school after extended illness and they catch up just fine.
President Trump did not fight for student safety, but left all decisions and plans up to the states so that there’s many mixed efforts. There are official guidelines worked up by the CDC, but these have changed so radically from one day to the next that the only solid agreement has come from scientists and doctors like Dr. Fauci, who has steadily said that masks, separation and hand washing is essential and for schools to follow all of the protocols listed above.
Remote learning is not proven to be less effective. Like any learning, it depends on the age of the child and how much the child spends listening or watching. Learning takes place solely from the child’s engagement. If a teacher teaches her heart out and Johnny doesn’t want to learn something, he doesn’t learn.
Parents who are home or even older siblings can listen to younger ones read aloud, tell them what words they don’t know, and studies do show that the more able a student is to read, the more likely he or she is to understand other subjects. Older students do quite well online.
Low income families can show their children how to read as well as rich parents’ children. Math can be taught to grade school students by anyone at home who can add, subtract, multiply and divide. High school and college students are online if they have access to a computer. Solving the inequity of raising poor families up to the middle class so they can afford decent living standards is what Biden and Harris are all about.
If you really want to make students get an equal education, vote to have education funded by our federal taxes and not by owning property. Rich areas have better schools than poor ones because schools are funded by property owners, which is as unfair as having health care provided by a job, assuming you have a job, and get the benefits of health insurance.
President Trump is trying to undo the health care program for poor people, and he’s not, repeat, not doing anything to fund or improve education. His agency heads, including the head of the Department of Education, are all people he either owes a debt to or are his friends. The Department of Education is a prime example of someone who has zero experience in education but is running the agency. Google Betsy DeVos.
I realize this is coming from the Trump Republican Party vice-chair, but she is doing a major disservice by promoting the things she wrote in her article, many of which are provably untrue.
Sun City West