We live in extremely turbulent times. We know, one way or another, the world as we have previously known it, has forever been changed. Our biggest obstacle is the desire to return to “normal”, back to the world we have become both accustomed to and comfortable with, but change is always inevitable.
The problem is one of the “normal” things we are literally fighting about returning to, is the education of our children. How will we educate them during a pandemic? Will they return to the classroom? Should they return to the classroom? How will we ensure the safety of our children and their families as well as our educators?
Many of our schools, especially in large cities, have class sizes of twenty-five or more students. It would require a large number of classroom modifications to ensure that every child is not only masked, but also remain six feet apart within the classroom, otherwise, more teachers would be hired, air circulaation measured, as well as class-areas created.
As we are trying to determine how to tackle this very real problem, we are also looking at inequities and disparities in education across our country. We are trying to both understand and solve the problem of under education of poor and minority children in the United States. Maybe COVID 19 has offered us an opportunity we would be foolish to pass up.
As a parent and grandparent, the safety of my child and grandchildren are of great importance to me. While COVID 19 presents differently in children than adults, they still are affected by the disease and can pass it on to others. To require children to attend school in the actual classroom is ludicrous and a threat not only to their health, but also to the health of their family members.
Even if we could ensure that every child enrolled in a class was only enrolled with other children whose parents worked from home, the risk is too large. Consider a classroom of 15 students in which the average child has at least one sibling. Of those 15 students, two children have a sibling who is in high school. Within the high school students, one student has an after school job, most likely in retail or a restaurant.
The one student employee contracts COVID 19 and is asymptomatic. This one student exposesand infects the entire high school population. The high school students with younger siblings infect the younger siblings. The younger siblings go to school and infect their classmates and teachers, who in turn, infect their respective families, some of which will have people who are at risk for health and age reasons. This is the reason contact tracing is so important.
Of course, maybe our government has decided to go for herd immunity without telling us that is the plan. The problem with herd immunity is the vulnerable are sacrificed as survival of the fittest is embraced. Yes, the vast majority of our children, regardless of race, income or status in our society, would survive the pandemic through herd immunity. The unfortunate part is many would lose grandparents, parents and other loved ones important to them and whose contributions to their growth as a human being would be lost and sorely missed.
Due to the way our schools are funded, the miseducation of our poor and minority children has long been a puzzle our legislators have for one hundred fifty-three years been incapable of resolving. We now have a means to not only keep our children safe, but to also eliminate all educational disparities in our national school system.
We can create a national virtual school system based on the curriculum of the best schools in our country. The department of education already has a ranked list of the best schools in the nation and those schools, likely, will have a virtual plan in place already to deal with school closures of any length of time.
Yes, some children are not at the level of the students in our best schools, but the beauty of online/remote learning, is a program can be made available for review and education of those who have not learned the material, giving children the opportunity to catch up to the children who have been afforded education at some of the best schools in the country.
Our constitution promises the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Many times, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is inextricably linked to education or the lack of education an individual may have been given. If we are truly a land of the free, we must fully educate all our children, regardless to wealth, race, religion or status. We must put ourselves in a position to utilize the best and brightest minds of our nation to resolve the many issues facing our nation and world, rather than putting a stranglehold on the minds and intellect of our child population. We must give every citizen a fair chance at achievement of their dreams and contributions to our nation. The only way to tear down a system designed to provide a lesser education to a portion of our citizenry is to provide a new one that eliminates the disparities of the old system.
Virtual education provides a solid solution to not only keeping our children safe during this pandemic, but also providing equitable education to all children of the United States. It creates a brighter future, not only for our children, but our nation by educating all children, giving them a real chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of the nation and world through their contributions.
Virtual education could be an equalizer for all children and our nation. It could help expand the minds, ideas, innovation, invention and contributions of our future generations to our nation and world. It would keep our children, teachers and families in a safe environment during the pandemic, at the very least, until we can get a vaccine.
I was taught children are our future. I was taught it is our responsibility as adults, to give the next generation the best possible chance at survival and success. Through virtual education, we have the opportunity to keep our children safe and provide equitable education to every child in our nation. We have two opportunities which offer the best solution for the equitable education of our children and their safety, and they both can be found in virtual education.