Will schools open? When? Will colleges open up in the fall? I don’t know. But here’s the latest gossip.
The Early-Opener governors are starting to talk about opening schools, because it’s clear that that the entire economy depends on schools to act as childcare for working parents. No schools, no workers.
Side note: It’s really inefficient to have teachers act as child minders. Do we really need a specially certified and compensated, college educated person to keep kids safe outside the house? If teachers only teach for half the day, and the other half of the day, they’re really doing child care — couldn’t we split up those jobs between two different people — babysitters and educators?
The teachers’ unions are fighting going back into the classroom. Many of their members are in the 60s, so those concerns aren’t crazy. Kids might not get super sick, but they could certainly infect the adults in the building.
Of course, it isn’t going to be possible to keep everyone from getting sick forever. At some point, adults will have to go back to work. It’s hard to imagine the impact on kids, if their schools stay closed for another year.
I’ve been predicting major hits to public education since the beginning of this crisis. It could happen in different ways:
- State budgets are going to be destroyed. They’re not going to be able to fund pensions, nevermind maintain their basic expenses. Teachers may be laid off.
- Parents are starting to get really annoyed. Taxpayers are getting annoyed. If businesses in Open States don’t have child care for their workers, they’re going to get annoyed. A fight between teachers and everyone won’t end well.
- For the past two months, parents and children have been told that they can learn just fine on the Internet. Some like it. Some have found new outlets to learn. A future of closed or semi-open schools won’t be attractive, so maybe they’ll stay at home or find new educational outlets. Public schools will remain for lower income and special ed kids.
- Schools are bracing themselves for having to provide compensatory education for lots of kids. Paying for the teachers, buying air conditioners, maintaining the buildings over the summer is going to be super, super expensive. If the federal government doesn’t bail out schools, there will be big problems.
Higher ed has many of those same concerns, but are more dependent on parental preferences and have even shakier finances. I think 10 percent of all colleges will close this year. Even if colleges open their doors in September, college life will be so constrained that affluent students are going to skip it for a semester. Other students may have to skip forever, because of constrained family finances.
The poor adjuncts that teach the majority of classes in colleges are going to be totally screwed. They’re all going to be fired and won’t even get unemployment, because the colleges consider them to be part-time temporary workers.
I want to end on a positive note before I run out to Home Depot for gardening supplies. (I’ll add links to this post later.) I think parents — well, at least the super motivated parents — are getting better at managing their family’s needs. We are.
The priority has been stabilizing the stress levels of Ian, who was struggling with the removal of all routine and structure. School left his life, and we filled the vacuum. Now, meals happen at 7, 12, and 7. Yoga at 11:30. He takes a solitary walk at 2:30. He and Steve read together at 4:30. He has Sylvan at 6. It’s rigid, for sure, but he likes it.
Next, we’re going to focus on his academic needs. I saw an webinar today, where an education expert said that every kid should be getting 1/2 hour of math, 1/2 hour of writing, and 1/2 hour of reading every day. So, I’m checking with his teachers to see if that’s happening. If not, we’ll do it at home or with a tutor.
Getting parents involved with their children’s education is a good thing. Having people think creatively about providing services, like education, is a good thing. Innovations only happen during periods of economy crisis, so I think we’re going to start seeing major (and good) changes soon.