Schools closures scrambled political lines
Even as some public schools continue to face a number of challenges keeping kids in class, and teachers on the job.
But as the pandemic winds its way into another semester, fractures are appearing outside the classroom, reaching into the old political silos parents once found so comforting. Consider this item from Rebecca Bodenheimer, who has found that school closures have caused her to rethink her progressive political roots:
By January 2021, with my son increasingly disengaged as Zoom school dragged on and no hope of an imminent return to school in Oakland, I promised him I wouldn’t make him go through another year like this. I knew that he desperately needed to learn alongside other kids.
I had until then resisted my dad’s suggestion that I consider sending him to private school. I was a proud alumna of San Francisco public schools and planned for my kids to attend Oakland public schools, despite their reputation for behavioral and academic problems. As an interracial, bilingual/bicultural family, what we wanted was for our son to attend a dual-language immersion program with plenty of other kids of color. My family was also in no way able to pay for private school.
But I began to fear that even in-person school in fall 2021 was at risk because of the impossible demands of the teachers union (that schools remain fully remote until there were “near-zero” Covid cases in Oakland) and apathy of the school board and district; even after teachers were prioritized for vaccination, there was no urgency to get kids back to the classroom. My dad offered to help pay for private school, and we applied. In March we were notified that my son was admitted to a private dual-language immersion school, and that we had been granted a 75 percent scholarship. There was still no deal in place between Oakland’s school district and the union to return to in-person school. I had lost all faith in the decision-makers to do what was best for my kid. So I made the only logical decision.
Bodenheimer chose to send her son to private school. And her greatest fear wasn’t that he would catch the virus, but rather how it would look to her progressive peers.
That’s not uncommon (and here’s a news flash: it happens on the right, too). What’s a little different is how the pandemic has laid bare some of the long-standing problems with government schools. That parents, of all political stripes, are looking at alternatives? That’s’ a good thing – for their kids, your kids, and everyone else’s. Competition improves institutions, and benefit communities. We need a lot more of it.