Letter: ‘Public schools need to get smarter, and fast’

Vancouver resident Valerie Anderson discusses the performance of public schools during the pandemic

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com 

Valerie J. Anderson
Valerie J. Anderson

Our schools are becoming dumber; not our children, but most certainly our public schools. In the last year, our children have fallen abysmally behind academically. While much of the world, and some parts of our country have prioritized their children and gotten them back in schools (or never closed schools!), our children in Clark County sat at home falling farther and farther behind. Many of them, like mine, however, were gaining street smarts and life skills. My high schooler knows how to bus around town and take the occasional Uber. He has a job and is learning valuable things like; interviewing, work ethic, customer service and managing money. He also knows how to cook, manage and care for a house, family and animals. When people ask me how he is doing I often say, “He is failing in school and succeeding in life.” And if I had to choose one over the other, I know which one I’d choose. 

The most important thing my student has learned this past year, having a single mother who is a frontline medical worker and has worked non-stop throughout the last year and half, is that the public schools have failed him and it is up to him (and me, as his parent/mentor/guide) to find his own way into the world of adulting without a real education. Because our public schools, the school board, administrators, and many teachers are quite actually not smart enough to educate him in any meaningful way anymore, we have had to find our own productive, positive and affirming things that will help make him smarter, not dumber. While the medical community was making a plan of action on the fly in March of 2020, adapting weekly, daily, sometimes hourly, and never stopped caring for those who needed care the most, quite actually risking our own lives to do so, the public schools in Clark County had months to come up with a plan to work with the population who poses the least risk, and they still could not do it. I correct myself: they refused to do it. They could, however, make it to their medical appointments, and be served by the army of workers who provided them with all the food, goods and services they needed to live comfortably and, of course “safely,’’ at home. And they were first in line for their vaccines, even though some of them are under age 30, and to this date not a single person in Clark County under the age of 30 has died of COVID-19, out of a half a million people. Not one.

The public schools have lost the respect of the students, the parents and the community. The mask, so to speak, has slipped, and we now see the administrations, unions and school boards as the power-hungry mercenaries who continued to draw very generous salaries while the rest of us worked (or lost our jobs), and still wouldn’t do what they were hired or elected to do, what we, the taxpayers, paid them to do even though every scientific study, every medical expert, and every national, state and local leader had given them every reassurance that it was “safe’’ to do and more importantly, was the right thing to do for all of us! Late this spring they managed a “hybrid’’ program for the high school which, according to my son, was not any sort of “school’’ that he recognized or could function in. Too little, too late.

As the school year came to a close we saw the dumbing down sink to a new level; local high schools held graduation ceremonies in outdoor venues with separate seating and separate entrances for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. In my family this would mean that we would be segregated just as if we were living in the 1950’s; white mom (vaccinated) in one section, black son (unvaccinated) in another. This is the same educational system that has scrambled to jump on the Equality, Equity and Inclusion bandwagon. Our mixed race, mixed “vaxxed’’ family isn’t feeling it. Also, I began to notice that the one classic novel that my son was given as an assignment in his English class was outnumbered by at least three to one reading assignments with articles regarding masking, court cases involving mandatory vaccinations in schools and legally forced vaccinations. When did schools and teachers begin to delude themselves that they are medical doctors and should be influencing and advising children, in the absence of their parents, on private health and medical decisions? I can hardly wait to see how much time and COVID relief money they waste in the classroom next year on the ideology of Critical Race Theory. Do they know how many mixed race families there are in their schools? I can only speak for my family; anything that attempts to put us at odds against each other isn’t going to fly. We are family, first.

As Washington state opens this summer, and as families travel to states that are completely open and have been for months, our children will get a taste of freedom and begin to remember what life was like … before. Yet, the public schools are still holding fast to a plan of masking and social distancing for the coming school year. Do they expect students to go back to that, even as the adults don’t have to? Again, not a single person in Clark County under the age of 30 has died of COVID-19. Why would we be masking our children after all the adults have been vaccinated? Are the vaccines not effective? If they aren’t effective enough to protect adults, why do the schools want us to risk an EUA vaccine with growing health concerns among youth (myocarditis) to vaccinate our children? Are our school districts and educators not capable of doing the most basic research? It’s all so very dumb. Our children deserve better. They deserve to be treated as though they are smarter; because they are smarter.

Public schools need to get smarter, and fast. Because parents and the community are getting smarter. Better yet, they are getting wiser.

Valerie J. Anderson 


  1. Rob

    They are getting wiser & louder. We allowed this to happen and it’s time to turn it around but that will only happen when & if we collectively pushback

  2. Mike

    In 2019, the schools had a “preview” with the measles outbreak in this area and were not prepared for it. When the kids went home last March, they were not prepared for it – you saw it with the financial expenditures in Chromebooks (which usually didn’t work) and wifi hotspots. When Distance Leaning failed (remember the State Superintendent’s “meltdown” over his son failing), the districts blamed the parents and the community for it for failing, not their efforts.

    You need to go to your local school boardes and ask them how many teachers “cashed it in” during the school year and treated it like an extended vacation. Ask them how many teachers didn’t want to be back in the classroom because their union didn’t want them in the schools. Ask the boards, “Who really runs the schools/School district?”. The truth is that the local and state teachers unions call the shots in the districts, not the local superintendent or the school board. Look at who was or is currently a teacher and sitting on your local school board – it will surprise you.

    Your local district and the teachers unions failed the kids, parents and the community… and there’s nobody to hold them accountable for it.

    1. Mike

      And thy won’t… they won’t listen to the real “customers” (parents, students and community). But, if the teachers union gets upset, they’ll listen to them.

  3. Jack Burton

    Wow we have a CCT trifecta:

    1. Teachers are lazy people that don’t want to work, they just want to soak up your tax dollars.

    2. Kids don’t die from Covid (and I assume she says there is no possibility of long term effects from it either, unlike those evil vaccines) so there should be no masks or social distancing of any kind at any school. I assume this means mandatory vaccinations for staff, or that if a school employee dies it’s no big loss…. Hard to tell with letters like these.

    3. And no letter would be complete without claiming that all teachers are indoctrinating kids of all ages with Critical Race Theory, a theory developed over forty years ago and so complex that it can’t be reasonably dissected outside of a graduate level sociology course.
    But yeah, it’s being taught to fifth graders.

    All we need is a mention of a stolen election, an explanation of how racism doesn’t exist, and maybe a call for abstinence only sex education and I’ll have my “Echo Chamber Bingo” card completely filled out.

    1. Roy

      Jack must not be around kids and schools these days.
      He thinks doing the same things and no accountability is best for our children’s future.

    2. Valerie J.

      Sorry to disappoint you: I have nothing whatsoever to say on the election, ‘stolen’ or otherwise. It’s over and I’m over it.
      And as for racism not existing? I certainly couldn’t say that since it’s something that touches me, indirectly (and at times directly), through my son and wounds and devastates me on a weekly, if not daily, basis. The fact that CRT is so utterly tone deaf when it comes to mixed race families is what completely baffles me. For the bi-racial child; is she the oppressor or the oppressed? How does she relate to her oppressor/systemically racist white mother and her oppressed/systemically victimized black father? Maybe, she could just see them as… victoriously loving? Let’s try that!
      And, for crying out loud! I have a 16 year old boy in possession of a smartphone; do you honestly think I bought him a True Love Waits ring and thought that would do it? Yeah… no. Whatever curriculum is being taught in the schools doesn’t hold a candle to what is being ‘taught’ on social media. Let’s just say, we have a very OPEN dialogue and always have.
      I didn’t actually say teachers were ‘lazy’ either. I said they refused to do their jobs, as in go back into the classrooms when there was no reason for them not to do so. I work in a medical clinic with Covid positive patients and we have been functioning with masks and goggles for over a year with zero patient to employee spread. Employees who were medically compromised or high risk took early retirement or moved into remote positions. It was as simple as that. A few very pragmatic school districts did the same.
      If we’re going to talk about ‘long term effects’ of Covid, then, we’re going to want to talk about the long term effects of the Covid vaccines, on children, specifically. First, we don’t know what they are because it’s still under EUA and because there simply hasn’t been enough time to study it, and the recent rise in myocarditis among young people who have been vaccinated needs to be looked at and hard! Six people out of six million had blood clots after receiving the J&J vaccine and that was enough to suspend that vaccine until more information could be gathered, but, more than four hundred, and counting, young people have been hospitalized for myocarditis after being vaccinated for Covid. I’ll take the Covid odds for my child over the vaccine odds, for now. And, for now, at least, I still have a choice.
      There’s the word of the day: CHOICE! If teachers choose to be vaccinated, they should. If they choose to wear a mask, they should. If parents choose to have their children vaccinated, they should. If they choose to encourage their children to wear masks, they should. I happen to believe in the efficacy of the vaccine and the importance of it for those with comorbidities for Covid; the top two being extreme old age and obesity. I have worked many hours of overtime in vaccine clinics toward the goal of getting those who chose to; every frontline medical worker, elderly person, first responder, medically compromised and yes, you betcha! every teacher vaccinated so our kids could get back to school!
      Everyone is ‘safe’, or has the options available to them to make their own risk-assessed choices. It’s time to stop making excuses and move forward. In the process I think we’ve found out that we can do a whole lot of things better and expect more from those whose salaries our tax dollars are paying.


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