We talk at length in America about the state of our schools. We debate class sizes, curriculum, zoning, funding, teacher qualifications and pay, and now we’re debating whether schools should open. They should.
I’ve written about the problems of indoctrination plaguing New York City schools, and I’ve heard from parents that this is happening across the country. This, however, is a call to action, not to shut down schooling. Children and teens need to be in school. Regardless of plague, famine, or war, schooling is essential.
We need to be clear that denying an education to America’s children is a sacrifice, but it is not ours to make. We are sacrificing America’s youth on the altar of our own fear. And it is a travesty. Children and teens who are not in school have had to seek knowledge elsewhere, and they’re finding ready teachers in activists and propagandists across the political spectrum.
Despite the many flaws of public schooling in New York City, I want Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reopen the schools to students in September. Right now, children are either in the streets or on their screens, and neither keep them safe either from the pandemic or from misinformation.
President Donald Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos want the schools to open, too. But conflicting messages from the medical community are making it difficult for anyone to know which way is up.
The Centers for Disease Control have issued guidance for schools reopening that say masking is necessary whenever possible, desks should be spread out, schedules should be staggered, children and teachers should take lunch in the classroom, and barriers should be placed between bathroom sinks to avoid the splashing of germs.
In New York City, this has translated into a plan by the city to welcome back the 1.1 million school students on a staggered schedule, where students would only attend in-person classes a few days a week at best. For children who spent the spring term learning more about how to make text boxes in Google Slides than imbibing any serious knowledge, the downward decline of mental acuity will continue.
As we debate the relative risks of opening schools in terms of coronavirus spread between students, teachers, staff, and families, we are ignoring the glaring risk to not only students by the nation in barring children from attaining any meaningful kind of education. Home and private school is an option, but it’s not an option for everyone. And education should not be merely for those whose families have access to those networks, or the resources to do it on their own.
Throughout the pandemic, we have been hearing from officials and pundits and everyone else that when we “get back to normal,” it won’t be like this. But now the tune is changing. what we are collectively imagining as the future “normal” is anything but.
We are so cowed with fear by the unknown potential of this virus that we are willing to sacrifice everything in service to its eradication, which is not even remotely guaranteed. If our nation plunges into chaos at the hands of a generation of people who know nothing about math, science, civics, history, or literature, who get their information from endless YouTube gaming videos, it will not be the fault of the pandemic, but our own.
The medical insight has indicated that, for whatever reason, children are not mass spreaders. They do not appear to get the illness as easily or transmit it as readily. The older the individual, the more apparent their risk.
No increased risk for teachers. pic.twitter.com/ho26L7KD0h
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) July 12, 2020
A study showed that “children appear to show fewer telltale symptoms than adults and [could] be less contagious, providing a justification for school reopenings…” So why is there so much debate over whether children should be educated?
No one knows what the coronavirus situation is going to look like in the fall. But the fact of the matter is that no one has known what it’s going to look like this whole time.
From the moment the pandemic was announced by the maddeningly inaccurate World Health Organization to the economic and social shutdowns to the occupation of city centers, no one has had any idea what’s going on. The models that everyone trusted to forecast the future were wrong, yet here we are, trying to use those techniques to figure out what’s going to happen three months from now.
At a certain point, the risk of having a generation of thoroughly uneducated children is a cure worse than the disease. Online education portals are not engaging—not for teachers, not for students. Many children learn in a hands-on way. they need personal interaction to learn well. Not only that, reports from hospitals say the mental health of children clearly outweighs their low risk of contracting the illness.
Those same leftists who are out in the streets demanding equity and equality are claiming that it’s too dangerous to open schools. Taking away the right to education for America’s youth will not result in equity or equality.
Those who are wealthy, and those who are able to do it, will still educate their children by whatever means necessary. Those children who are the most vulnerable to inequity already will be the ones who suffer the most under school closures.
The children of New York City and the nation should be allowed to go back to school. Locking everyone in their homes, letting our cities be rocked by weeks of civic unrest, increases in crime, and now depriving our children of the one thing we have told them they need for their entire lives—an education—is no way to ensure the longevity and stability of our nation. Keeping schools closed is a way to ensure discord and perpetrate inequity, lawlessness, and stupidity for generations to come.