Open Schools and Students Will Return. Maybe.

by Kerry Dougherty

Whoa. Who could have foreseen THIS?

Public schools — offering a substandard educational product this year — are seeing an alarming drop in enrollment as parents yank kids and enroll them in private or homeschools.

Virginia public schools are down 37,000 students from last year, according to The Daily Press. And because schools are funded on a per-pupil basis, public school districts are getting less money. A lot less.

Naturally, school officials are howling and demanding that the state find the loot to make up for their “shortfalls.”

You’d think educators would have a passing knowledge of economics: Educate fewer students and you get less money. It’s quite simple.

Why should schools be paid for kids who are no longer enrolled?

If administrators want their coffers full, they have to reopen schools fully and get kids back in class. They’d better do it fast, before their parents realize how much better the alternatives are to what’s been offered in public school classrooms.

Some of us saw this coming back in mid-June when Gov. Ralph Northam released his cockamamie rules for school reopening that ensured schools would not be able to open in-person five days a week.

At the time, I and many others urged parents to enroll their kids into private or parochial schools immediately, before they were filled.

If public schools adhered to Northam’s nutty rules — which eventually morphed into “suggestions” — it was clear that the rumspringa that began in March would continue into 2021 and beyond with children falling farther and farther behind.

Northam — the science guy — knew that children were at very little risk of infection and that studies show they rarely pass the virus on to adults.

Yet he refused to tell schools to open the heck up.

The only thing Northam’s plans did was prolong the misery of his earlier shutdowns by ensuring that parents of school-aged kids couldn’t return to their jobs even when their workplaces opened.

Outside -the carnage in nursing homes, there is no greater disaster visited upon Americans by their clueless governors than school closings. Young children and those from under-privileged homes without computers, internet or food, are suffering, while teachers’ unions dig in and pressure school officials to keep classes virtual for as long as possible.

Private schools, on the other hand, have reopened without major problems and are offering their students in-person quality education, while poorer children are being hopelessly left behind.

Beyond that, a  growing number of parents decided that instead of plopping their kids in front of computer screens all day, they’d homeschool. According to The Daily Press, Virginia Beach had 2,900 new homeschool intention letters and Chesapeake had 2,300.

The Press reports that “every school district in Hampton Roads’ seven cities reported their enrollment was lower than last fall. Differences ranged from under 350 in Hampton to over 3,600 in Virginia Beach, the state’s fourth-largest district.”

Schools statewide are facing a $155 million shortfall. Administrators want the state – -that’s you and me — to pony up the difference.

Why should we?

Schools shouldn’t be compensated for students they chased away with their boneheaded plans for reopening.

Getting loot for students who have withdrawn amounts to getting paid for not working.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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12 responses to “Open Schools and Students Will Return. Maybe.

  1. I expect the private/home school movement will accelerate even as the COVID situation returns to “normal.” Consider:

    * Steady erosion of academic standards and accountability
    * Teaching white kids to feel guilty about white privilege and white fragility
    * Discriminating against Asian kids in governors’ schools

    What’s next? Proclaiming that grades are racist? That teaching “standard English” is racist? It’s happening elsewhere. How long until avante garde progressive thinking reaches Virginia?

    Parents of all races will seek to escape this all-consuming madness by finding educational alternatives for their children.

  2. Couldn’t agree more! This is why public school choice should not be ignored. Who gets paid more for doing less? My utility bills are going up due to the brilliant move by legislators in the appropriations budget to help pay for unpaid bills due to COVID, but schools are complaining they will go broke? 37,000 students is really small. Split that into 133 school districts by the appropriate distribution, 37,000:1,245,619 (per google as number of students in public schools) or 3%. That isn’t factoring in CARES Money. Really? Stop crying, start teaching.

    • Ooodles of extra money heading toward the schools in the new amended budget, mostly from CARES. Meaning paid for by debt on our grandkids….

      Hey, over the weekend I noticed the VDH outbreaks website recorded its first COVID death due to a K-12 outbreak. Student, faculty or staff? Not noted. But the death toll “in the schools” is no longer zero. I’m sure we’ll hear more…

      And a key point: The teachers who are doing this by virtual means, or doing that hybrid with both virtual and in-class, are probably working harder than they did a year ago. My wife’s been with the all-virtual second grader most days of the week, and recognizes the extra burden being put on those teachers.

  3. It would be interesting to see which virtual school districts require the teachers to drive to the school to teach from classrooms and which allow the teachers to teach from home. In a transportation hellhole like Fairfax County working from home to avoid the commute would be a big inducement. I don’t know what the policy in Fairfax is.

  4. Meh, it’s just the flu… except it destroys organ tissue, but don’t sweat the long-haul effects. It’s said you use less than 10% of your brain, so surely 20% of a heart or pancreas will suffice too.

    • Yes, the world would have been much better off if China had acted responsibly by being honest and allowing assistance to contain the outbreak early on. Instead they deliberately lied about it and allowed infected people from Wuhan to travel internationally even after they had restricted travel within China.

      But China showed that it’s an adversary to the civilized world and we’re left with less than ideal choices to be sure. Right now, however, many families are facing the worst of both worlds. Their children aren’t getting the benefit of in-person instruction, but they are going off to child care every day so the parents can work. Many times the child care is housed in the very schools where they should be receiving in-person instruction.

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