Some Kids Need School More than Others

by Kerry Dougherty

Let’s stop pretending there’s any chance at all that public schools will be open five days a week this fall.

They won’t. Not around here, anyway. Not in many places.

The teachers have spoken. Their unions, er associations, have made it clear that they don’t want to return to their classrooms yet. They’re afraid. Some say they don’t want to return until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine.

And so schools will remain closed and it will be another semester of distance “learning” for students.

Last year’s educational catastrophe was on the Governor, who closed schools without warning, leaving teachers scrambling with online classes.

This year’s experiment is being pushed by educators. If it fails, if thousands of kids are lost and left behind, it’s on them.

Enough about teachers. The real losers here are the kids. Kids like Tyler.

A young man who said that was his name called the radio show on Friday morning to weigh in on whether schools should reopen.

He told Mike Imprevento and me that he was 14 and had just finished a year at Virginia Beach’s Renaissance Academy.

He said he couldn’t wait to get back into a regular high school.

Who could blame him?

For those unfamiliar with the Renaissance Academy, it’s the city’s alternative school. Sort of a last-chance place for kids who have gotten into trouble in their home schools. Discipline problems, drugs, fighting.

The faculty at that school tries to help these students find their way back, working with them on self-esteem, self-control and accountability.

They’re not always successful. One kid at that school was convicted three years ago of first degree murder in the random shooting of a 60-year-old woman.

Tyler sounds like a Renaissance Academy success story. He was well-spoken when he called in and seemed eager to learn. He said he’d gotten all A‘s last year and was looking forward to heading off to a regular high school this fall.

A clean slate and new friends were in his future. Imagine how good that must feel.

Tyler said he was discouraged at the prospect of another semester at home. He said distance learning had been hard, but that he’d gotten through it.

We thanked him for calling. Tossed out all the usual cliches that adults fall back on when trying to reassure kids: We told him he sounded like a great kid and should be proud of himself. We told him to keep his eye on the prize and stick with it even if his classes are online all year.

As we signed off I assured Tyler that the present situation would not last forever. You’ll be back in class before you know it, I said.

Lord, I hope that’s true. For Tyler’s sake.

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

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27 responses to “Some Kids Need School More than Others”

  1. NorrhsideDude Avatar

    Nah…. LarryG will provide parents a link to software.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      What I pointed out was that the narrative that kids can’t learn at all at home is just plain ignorant – yep.

      It may not be the PREFERRED way that people want – but the tools and resources are there and they can be effective if combined with a structure of studying every day.

  2. sherlockj Avatar

    Spot on Kerry.

    I’m betting not a single one of our progressive readers will post a comment that addresses either fate of the children like Tyler or the desires of many teachers to keep the schools open.

    1. MAdams Avatar

      Tyler is just the tip of the iceberg with this problem facing out school systems. What about the children who have a less than stellar home life, where their recently unemployed parent or guardian is now an angry alcoholic and beating them. What bout the special needs students who can’t learn online, what about half of Louisa county that doesn’t have reliable or any internet.

      Even further how to parents juggle their jobs which are still 5 or more days a week with children who are not in school.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    You know the funny thing? Some folks don’t trust the same teachers who teach their kids to do right for education for their kids.

    Yep. The same teachers that folks are yammering about MUST be there to teach their kids – nope – otherwise they’re stupid….on science and disease and safety in the schools.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Good point. No wonder no one replied. To do what they want these teachers to do, the teachers would have to be to dumb to teach.

      Nice Catch 22.

  4. NorrhsideDude Avatar

    If you have a special needs kid find an attorney now. They’re going to have a backlog of cases… I don’t see how virtual school can meet the needs of those kids with IEPs.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      be careful what you are demanding… you may not like what they do to avoid your lawsuit………

      this is the state of education these days. It is condemned as leftist indoctrination, nasty teacher unions, inferior to voucher schools – and yet they get sued for not educating the way that parents want.

    2. My son has profound learning disabilities. Online learning would have meant NO learning for him. I assume that parents of kids with IEPs will be suing. If my son was still in public school I would have lawyered up in March.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        It’s a whole different ballgame for parents of kids with “challenges”. Instead of impugning public education for “leftist indoctrination” – it’s the opposite – a DEMAND that the public school educate their kids!

        This is what I mean when I say the critics of public education come from all directions and I do not see a big rush by most parents of these kids to go to private schools to do a “better” job.

        I’ve been told that if you include bus transportation – the average cost of educating these kids is around 30K a year.

        And as those parents say – their kids ARE ENTITLED to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

        This is a FEDERAL law not a state law and it forces all states to provide this education – many states did not until the law.

        You will not find these parents among those who advocate shutting down public education. That big bad socialist government – they want.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: kids with “bad” parents. Tutoring seems to work well for rich kids with bad but rich parents, eh?

    How about we buy tutors for all those kids who “need”?

    1. MAdams Avatar

      So a tutor is going to help a student who can’t see cause their guardian beat their face in?

      You honestly have zero understanding of education or people with disabilities and should refrain from commenting on those topics, among the list of others things you aren’t qualified to discuss.

    2. CREGUY Avatar

      I generally enjoy your posts (a welcome contrary view), but remember what I said in another thread: The adaptation eventually becomes the norm.

      I am now hearing about the idea of sending teachers to neighborhoods for one day a week…Which is pretty similar to homeschooling….kids have a guide, but not a full-time teacher.

      In the end, this may be the end of the public education system as we know it…at some point parents figure out how to de facto home school and don’t want to go back to “the old way”….if schools go virtual for 2020-21, kids won’t have seen the inside of a school building since March 2020. Will parents send kids back in August 2021? Got a feeling that a heck of a lot will not.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        re: ” I am now hearing about the idea of sending teachers to neighborhoods for one day a week…Which is pretty similar to homeschooling….kids have a guide, but not a full-time teacher.”

        exactly – there are a wide range of responses that are possible – and over time – we’re going to see them – some that work and some that don’t. There are more than 13,000 school districts in the US. That’s 13,000 laboratories.. to try different approaches.

        re: ” In the end, this may be the end of the public education system as we know it…at some point parents figure out how to de facto home school and don’t want to go back to “the old way”….if schools go virtual for 2020-21, kids won’t have seen the inside of a school building since March 2020. Will parents send kids back in August 2021? Got a feeling that a heck of a lot will not.”

        That’s what one might think but listen to the yammering going on right now – hardly any of them are saying to public ed “screw you, I’ll figure out a better way that your way”. Zippo.

        The big thing that many are upset about is that they counted on schools to be “day care” for their kids – while they worked.

        They configured their lives around that and now it’s totally screwed up how they live – and rather than adapt and change – they’re jumping on the partisan bandwagons – ginned up by people who couldn’t care less about kids but want to advance their political agendas – many of whom who have argued strenuously against the concept of public education… and want vouchers for private schools …

  6. CREGUY Avatar

    I’m curious: Has any nonpartisan outfit actually polled teachers? I think it’s important to realize that a lot of these “education associations” only represent a fraction of teachers.

    I know this is anecdotal, but my son’s best friend is a HS math teacher and he is ready to get back in the classroom. He loves his job, and he realizes that virtual learning is going to be a disaster for low income kids. He told my son that he is embarrassed about teachers being portrayed as scared to go back into a classroom.

    I’d be interested to see a poll of teachers. I have a suspicion that a large chunk of them would like to take the “risk” and go back to in-person learning. Just because a few dozen teachers organize in a school district and show up to School Board meetings does not mean that they’re representative of their colleagues.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      The polls show that a majority of teachers want to return – if it is “safe” with differing and dynamic concerns of what “safe” is.

      Many of the “hybrid” school plans let teachers choose if they want to be in-person or remote.

      Despite the claim of “one size fits all” – it’s the opposite for most school systems. If anything there are a bunch of moving parts – and dynamic to boot – all depending on what happens with the virus.

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: tutors and private schools – rich parents can afford both for their kids and especially the ones who need more help than their parents can give them.

    That’s entirely a separate issues whether ANY parent – rich or poor beats the tar out of their kids – handicapped or otherwise. Lot of idiocy going on here.

  8. ksmith8953 Avatar

    Bottom line, as stated when the guidance document for returning to learn was seen as too prescriptive, we reminded all that it was guidance, not code, and as such, returning to school was left up to the local school boards to decide per the Virginia constitutuon. Then came the Department of Labor and Indistry regs, the first in the nation, and suddenly our teacher unions went crazy. Now it is code. Although, the final copy won’t be out until July 27th or so.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Part of this is that teachers are often held accountable for actually performing the “code”as well as interfacing with the parents.

      Many a teacher has got caught on this petard.

  9. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Places like the Renaissance Academy are so vital to keeping students from slipping between the cracks. I worked at a place like this. Fredericksburg Regional Alternative School. I think it is called the Phoenix Center now. So much good is accomplished here on a shoe string budget. I wish all the very best to the student Tyler.

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    James – isn’t this a school for kids that are “disruptive” in the regular schools… you know all that stuff Jim Bacon keeps talking about “restorative justice” and all that?

  11. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    People tend to forget the role of liability in all this. Superintendents and school boards have lawyers whispering in their ears: “You’ll be sued, and even if you win, it will cost you XYZ…” Let’s see if the upcoming Special Session of the GA addresses that – my bet is no way.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Have you been listening to NorthSideDude on the issue of lawsuits?

      Does that even before COVID19, right?

      ” If you have a special needs kid find an attorney now. They’re going to have a backlog of cases… I don’t see how virtual school can meet the needs of those kids with IEPs.”

      see, he’s saying sue them if they don’t open…

      so damned if you do and damned if you don’t?

      1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead V

        I hope the law firms use William Shatner for the TV ads.

  12. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Loudoun County Public Schools has just adopted 100% virtual instruction for the fall. They have 6 weeks to fix a very broken distance learning platform. Teachers get a 6% raise, bus drivers still get paid, and this list goes on.

  13. LarrytheG Avatar

    When I see major school districts backing off of full-time in-person and now even hybrids – I have a hard time questioning their judgement. We’re talking about thousands of school administrators that we normally trust their judgement to run the school systems.

    THe current politics to accuse them of bad faith and a laundry list of other character flaws and worse is just over the top.

    We have a certain percentage of folks who basically do not like the concept nor the operation of public education. They are vociferous and really just downright insulting and ugly about it and more than a few of them won’t wear a mask and likely would tell their kids not to and some of them are okay with their kids being bullies.

    It’s actually the behaviors of some kids AND their parents that is affecting how teachers and administrators feel about returning in a pandemic. There is a reason why most public schools have police these days. It’s pretty certain that some would not wear masks..or socially distance and teachers would be put in the position of trying to enforce it.

  14. Inthemiddle Avatar

    Following the Wisdom of Our Glorious Leader, the pandemic will miraculously end. When it does, our schools will miraculously reopen.

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