It appears the only thing on which we all agree is that COVID has flipped our world upside down. Upside down is the best way to describe it. How else can one explain certain school administrators and the teacher’s union stridently arguing to keep schools closed? While parents and students, on the other hand, are desperately fighting to get schools open.
Shouldn’t it be the other way around? If the virus is so dangerous, so deadly, it would logically be the parents fighting to protect their children from going to school.
But it is not what is happening. Something else is going on, and it has nothing to do with the virus. Or students. Or health and safety. It is both ridiculous and infuriating.
From kindergarten to high school seniors, our students are being used as political hostages by liberal, ISEA-backed school boards to achieve their goals.
Case in point – Des Moines Public Schools. According to the superintendent, the school board’s initial return-to-learn plan was a hybrid one, “that provided our families with a choice between an all-virtual learning model and a hybrid model, which combines in-person and online learning.”
First, that’s not a real choice. Where is the option of onsite in-person learning? You know, the thing schools have been doing for over a hundred years. The thing taxpayers paid for. The thing parents and students count on. Why was this never offered to parents and students? That option appears to have been eliminated right from the start because the superintendent and the school board not only know better than parents and students, but also better than the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and just about every single European country. It seems science and data only matter to the superintendent and the school board when that science and data support their politics.
Nonetheless, after 75% of parents registered their students for classes, the Department of Education and the governor reminded all districts across the state what the legislature overwhelmingly passed in June. That remote learning is allowed, as long as it doesn’t make up more than 50% of the learning done in a two-week period. Legislative Democrats unanimously supported this law just two months ago. But, as politics would have it, they suddenly reversed course and expressed dismay over the bill. Details remain murky, but this seems to be a case of Democrats failing to read the bill before voting on it, along with receiving their orders from the teacher’s union.
Regardless of legislative Democrats’ political cowardice, many school districts were already in compliance with the law. Most of the ones that were not corrected their plans to be in compliance. Because that’s what adults do.
But what did the leadership of the Des Moines Public Schools do?
They took ALL of their classes online, ignoring science and data and completely eliminating parents’ ability to decide how their kids are educated. Why? Because those darn parents simply couldn’t be counted on to make the right decision. The district leadership took away their ability to decide.
What has become glaringly obvious is this conversation is no longer about Iowa’s school children’s interests. It is about power and politics.
The Des Moines Public School Board is run by liberals driven by a hatred of Donald Trump and Kim Reynolds, but it goes further. These lockdown enthusiasts operate with religious zealotry that ruthlessly forces their leftwing moralism onto parents and students. The fact that they so nonchalantly use students as a political chess piece isn’t just despicable; it is frightening.
If you think this is an exaggeration, take a quick glance through the social media channels of those making the decisions in DMPS. Sexist memes involving the governor, endorsements for Biden/Harris, and demeaning talk about Iowa’s elected officials are common.
Then take a look at their campaign donations. It is like watching the red carpet walk of the Iowa Democratic Party – Mary Jane Cobb, executive director of the ISEA, Democrat Sen. Leader Janet Peterson, former Sen. Matt McCoy, Democratic State Rep. Marti Anderson, Democratic State Rep Jennifer Konfrst, failed Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch, the list goes on and on. There are shadowy items like expenditures to the Iowa Democratic Party for “constituency expenses,” and payments to the Polk County Democratic Central Committee for fundraisers’ attendance
The decision to erase parents from the process was deliberate. The notion that any of this is about students is laughable. The Des Moines Public School Board does not represent their constituents. It does not have the best interest of parents and students in mind. The superintendent and the board are doing an extremely thorough job of proving they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA). The teacher’s union, like the board, is also suing the Governor. That, of course, must simply be a coincidence. The fact that the ISEA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars against Republican candidates for decades probably isn’t relevant either.
Remember this – if we were all in this together, schools would be opening for onsite, in-person learning. Because that is what is best for the overall community. If this were about students, parents, and families of DMPS, the school district would be doing everything in their power to bring kids back and give a voice to the families who need schools to be open.
Schools across Iowa are central to their communities. In small towns, a school is that town’s identity. If schools are essential, then they are essential. If teachers are essential, then they are essential. Online school, 100% of the time, should only be an option when all of the other options do not work. Clearly, the rest of the western world has figured this out.
A school district that willfully ignores science and data and intentionally chooses to be 100% online is shouting that they are not essential. We should all start listening and demand a refund.
Taxes pay for things, and if those things no longer occur, why are we paying for them? Suppose the Des Moines Public School Board and their superintendent pigheadedly refuse to uphold their responsibilities. In that case, parents rightfully need those funds to afford care, tutoring, learning pods, or the independence to attend far more accountable schools that fit their needs.