Back to School
It was 2 a.m., the Beautiful Wife sweetly asleep, I wide awake. I slipped away, searching for something to read. A favorite book, H.W. Brand’s biography of Benjamin Franklin, “The First American,” came to hand. As is my wont, I read the last paragraph first. It inspired this column.
A Philadelphia matron, at the close of the Constitutional Convention, asks Franklin what had been created in four months of deliberation? Franklin’s wry response summed his lifework: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Keeping our democratic republic requires an educated electorate. In a life nearing eight decades, as parent to six children and twenty grandchildren, I have never been more concerned about the quality of education children receive. This is not a political column, but I have written twice about the importance of resuming personal, not hastily thrown together, distant learning. This is a hot topic; the last column had more reader response than any column I’ve written. Here’s what five said, in the order received:
“This article was amazing and so well done.” Excuse me, ahem, for including that opening compliment, but here’s the conclusion, “How could anyone read it and not acknowledge the fact children need to go to school and that the risk of them getting sick is very low?”
The next was from a mother and physician: “I just wanted to let you know your opinion piece on reopening schools is great. I am a physician and a parent and I feel those making decisions on school closures are uneducated. The data is overwhelming that the kids need to be in school, not virtual.”
Then this from a lawyer, “I, to my regret, am a contrarian, and, not to my regret, a critical reader. I rarely find objection to your articles. Keep up the good, insightful work.”
All good thus far, but two had differing views:
Titled “Omitting facts can have life and death consequence when the topic is about a pandemic,” this person urged that I should include “all the information.” I respectfully responded, pointing out that the column was as packed with facts as I could make it, and noting that the recommendation for kids to return from the classroom wasn’t from me, but from the collector of “all the information”—our federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They see the whole picture and made the critical conclusion that kids are better-off in school than out.
The last was an editorial in this paper titled, “Can we leave this to the Experts?” Actually, by following the guidance of the CDC, the column was heeding the real experts. The letter closed by asking I not “voice opinions that feed discontent.” The reality is that the discontent is widespread. The school board seems unaware but almost everyone I speak with—parents, children, and teaches—want time-proven classroom teaching to resume, though with optional distance learning for those with special risks. This isn’t feeding discontent, it’s recognizing the rights of voters who pay the cost of our now-idle schools. There’s a school board election in 65 days with a chance for a new majority. There’s meaning in that.
Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach. Email: [email protected]
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