Around mid-March, schools around the country began closing because of the coronavirus scare.
Now as the 2020-21 school year approaches, parents want definitive plans for reopening them.
They also should be asking what’s happened to the money.
Principals, teachers, staff and education overseers still got paid during the pandemic, even though it took them weeks to get up to speed with remote learning technology. They didn’t have to test, grade or prepare students for the upcoming school year.
A crucial downside was that neither teachers nor students were fully held accountable for what did and didn’t happen academically.
Parents now are demanding answers — and for obvious reasons.
If they live, work or play in America, they pay for public education. That’s a fact whether they’re unemployed, retired or lower middle-class — among the rich and famous, or poor as a churchmouse.
That’s also a fact whether they gas up their personal vehicles; use mass transit; pay utility bills; buy school uniforms, feminine products or suits at Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom or a secondhand store; or spend their cash at Piggly Wiggly, a dollar store or Whole Foods.
In other words, even if they have no children, grandchildren, relatives or neighbors attending public schools, they still pay taxes for public schooling.
How can that be?
Generally speaking, whether their name is Jane Doe or Joe Schmoe and whether their family is on food stamps or were fed the first taste of Gerber’s applesauce with a silver spoon, tax dollars are poured into general fund buckets, where politicians become coffer crabs (and you wonder why Republican and Democrats like to raise taxes).
It’s why mayors and governors use such phrases as “investing in schools,” and why unions and others stand on soap boxes and ask political candidates whether they support increased money for schools.
Parents are anxious to get back to work and get their children back in classrooms and day care centers. After all, Democrats pushed the universal preschool program so hard that traditional public schools, day care centers — private and public — runneth over until the pandemic.
Parents were out of work and became substitute teachers for their children — those potty-trained and those long out of diapers. Problems, however, remain.
Public school districts and states are grappling with reopening deadlines and coronavirus guidelines as summertime peaks. Remember, public schooling is not nimble. Attendance matters for students but not grownups.
So the rub remains: If school facilities remain closed — and only available to children once or twice a week — shouldn’t taxes be lowered?
Some districts, like D.C. Public Schools, don’t even know whether their teachers will be returning for the 2020-21 year. Why? Because the Washington Teachers Union ordered its cadre of teachers and other school employees to blindside the city. Don’t fill out the form that asks their intention to return for work this fall.
To wrap, parents and their children aren’t getting what they pay for when it comes to public education because union leaders see it as too risky.
Don’t let blowhards take your money and run again.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.