A K-12 radical idea

Let’s admit one thing about the debate surrounding K-12 education this fall: There’s nothing the “open the buildings” crowd can say that will change the minds of the “close the buildings” crowd. Likewise, the “close the buildings” camp won’t change the minds of any people in the “open the buildings” camp.

The one and only correct answer for K-12 is CLOSED buildings, for at least the start of the school year. There’s no need to rehash the arguments here (as I stated above, no minds are going to be changed at this point).

However, the parents who demand their children be taught inside a classroom deserve to be satisfied. They and their children ought not be punished by decisions made to begin the school year online, especially when the district leaders operated in consult with a host of medical and scientific experts in selecting the safer option.

If the medical and science communities are wrong, as the “open the buildings” crowd claims, then give that camp what it wants.

So, here’s the arrangement for school districts that will begin the year with closed buildings:

Give one choice to the parents, and one choice to the teachers.

Parents may send their children into a classroom, if that’s their wish. If they chose on ground, their children will enter a school building five days a week (hybrid teaching is silly, and it needs to be eliminated from consideration), and they may leave their children in that environment until their state’s governor or the federal government mandates all schools be closed. (They also may flip from on ground to online at the beginning of any new quarter.)

Teachers in these “we’ll start online” districts may teach exclusively online with no sanction, or they may agree to teach on ground. They keep their full salary and full benefits, no matter what they choose. Those teachers who select online can be ordered back into a classroom only when the district’s leaders decide to open all buildings. Teachers, too, may change their minds about on ground or online at the beginning of every quarter, if the buildings are still considered closed.

Substitute teachers will be needed inside classrooms because a majority of the regular teachers will select the online route. Read what they’ve written and said over the summer months; their sentiments are obvious.

Those substitute teachers who agree to go inside a school building are paid by the parents who choose to send their children into a classroom.

From across the land, the argument will be heard: “But my taxes pay for schools!”

Precisely, your taxes pay for the schools; and in those districts where the decision has been made to go with online instruction, your taxes will be used. Your district leaders have made that call. If you require something else (much like after-school day care, sports, a student club traveling for an event, etc.), you pay for it on your own.

The district is meeting your children’s academic needs by offering online instruction. If that’s not what you want, you may pay for an alternative arrangement.

Remember, the above scenario applies only in those districts where the school year will begin online.

Make your decision.

Stanford, to its freshmen and sophomores: Stay home

Guided by medical advice and current health conditions, Stanford University is now telling its freshmen and sophomore students to not come to campus.

The San Francisco Chronicle has the story.

Stanford had previously planned to bring just freshmen and sophomores back to campus in the fall to allow for social distancing in the dorms. For the winter and spring terms, juniors and seniors would rotate in, and freshmen and sophomores would return home.

But the university had warned students in July that these plans might change as the pandemic worsened in California. Now Stanford says that if possible, freshmen and sophomores can move into university housing for the winter term, starting in January, and juniors and seniors can move in for the spring, starting in March.

Perfectly sound and wise decision here. Plans were made, but on-the-ground conditions didn’t allow for them to be enacted. That’s good leadership: acknowledging that plans must be altered.