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 

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