Jeff Bryant writes about how the COVID-19 pandemic is waking America up to the reality that schools are, in fact, essential. To everything.
Here’s a bit of what he has to say:
In May, as the pandemic was just about to explode from hotspots in the Northeast to a nationwide contagion, Forbes contributor Nick Morrison argued, “Until children go back to school, parents will have to remain at home looking after them, and it will be impossible to fully restart the economy.”
New York Times op-ed writer Spencer Bokat-Lindell, marveling at how European countries were able to reopen schools, wrote, “Restarting classes is essential not only to parents’ mental health and children’s development, but also to reviving the economy.”
“We cannot have a functioning economy, or any hope of reducing economic inequalities, without a functioning educational system,” wrote Paul Starr for the American Prospect in June.
“A consensus is emerging among top economists and business leaders,” reported Heather Long for the Washington Post in July, “that getting kids back into day cares and schools is critical to getting the economy back to normal.” She quoted chief executive of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon saying, “If schools don’t open, a lot of people can’t go back to work.” Those pronouncements on the need to reopen schools in order to save the economy have turned into a drumbeat in the halls of government.
At a June hearing on Capitol Hill, senators and federal health officials called for “schools to resume some form of normal operations in the upcoming academic year, due in part to concerns about a weakened economy and the long-term welfare of children and families,” according to Education Week
Turns out, we need schools. It also turns out that YEARS of chronic underfunding of public schools means… well, we’re not quite ready for what’s next.
Do we value kids? Families? Our investment (or serious lack thereof) in schools tells the real story.
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