by Travis Mateer
I have been reluctant to write about what my kids are going through during this pandemic, but when a hyper partisan who is ALSO a school teacher tells me to ignore the rhetoric about “school choice”, I feel compelled to push back.
I know the concept of “choice” is locked and loaded from years of politicization, but I can tell you, as a parent of two boys in public school, I am MOST DEFINITELY reassessing what it means to NOT HAVE A CHOICE when it comes to what is being done to my kids’ mental health and education.
Since “choice” is such a loaded word, how about “alternative”, like how a friend of ours in Missoula collaborated with other parents to create a pod-style schooling alternative to what public school was offering with remote learning. Do I have to qualify that statement with further claims that our friend is a good, liberal-thinking Missoulian?
While those parents worked their asses off to create this alternative, their taxes were still going toward the public schools, where fear has dominated the policy decision-making process.
If you DON’T think school policies are being driven by fear, then please show me the peer-reviewed study that concludes wearing a mask WHILE OUTSIDE at recess is a necessary precaution for kids, playing with their peers, to be taking.
One of my kids was complaining about this absurdity at the dinner table a few nights ago. What am I supposed to tell him, that in order to protect Don Pogreba’s paycheck it’s important that mom and dad have NO CHOICE on an alternative school option if this absurdity of masking kids as they play outside continues?
No, that is NOT what I said. What I say to my kids is own fucking business until someone gets the stupid, dangerous thought in their head that it isn’t.
If you are a parent and you agree with that sentiment, and you want to explore alternatives to public school fear factories, you should do so, especially if your kid is suffering.
In Clark County, Nevada, the situation with kids committing suicide had become so dire that a scramble is on to get kids BACK IN SCHOOL to stop the surge of kids killing themselves. How fucked up is that? From the New York Times:
The spate of student suicides in and around Las Vegas has pushed the Clark County district, the nation’s fifth largest, toward bringing students back as quickly as possible. This month, the school board gave the green light to phase in the return of some elementary school grades and groups of struggling students even as greater Las Vegas continues to post huge numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.
Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in. The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus’s spread.
One of the problems with even acknowledging this trend is Trump. How could that be so, you ask? I’ll explain.
Whatever Trump says, no matter the content, everyone suffering from TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) absolutely must believe the exact opposite. If Trump said the sky is blue, I’m sure experts would be trotted out to explain why that’s not true.
So, when Trump was advocating for schools to reopen, this was the predictable result:
Over the summer, as President Donald J. Trump was trying to strong-arm schools into reopening, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, then the C.D.C. director, warned that a rise in adolescent suicides would be one of the “substantial public health negative consequences” of school closings. Mental health groups and researchers released reports and resources to help schools, which provide counseling and other intervention services, reach students virtually. Mental health advocacy groups warned that the student demographics at the most risk for mental health declines before the pandemic — such as Black children and L.G.B.T.Q. students — were among those most marginalized by the school closures.
But given the politically charged atmosphere this summer, many of those warnings were dismissed as scare tactics. Parents of students who have taken their lives say connecting suicide to school closings became almost taboo.
When Don Pogreba tells parents like me to ignore my lack of choice, it’s obvious this partisan educator is more concerned about politics than he is about the kids he is responsible for educating, and I think that is disgusting.