“He said with a sawdusty sneeze, I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues…” — Dr. Seuss
I’m Representative Codi Galloway and I’m speaking for the children who have gone unheard in the current school shutdown. Children need to be back in school full-time, in-person for three main reasons.
Every day I sit in the Education Committee and hear proposals on how to address the “learning loss” that has happened due to school shutdowns. Nearly every student is an at-risk youth right now. I hear about it in the failing freshman grades, I see it in the drop in IRI reading scores, and I feel it in the students’ lack of motivation. The problem is real; the solution is obvious. It is time to get kids back in school.
Social and Emotional Loss
The Academy of Pediatrics reported that as of Dec. 3, children in the United States have accounted for slightly more than 0 percent of all COVID cases and even fewer deaths (0 in Idaho). If they do catch it, the symptoms are mild and they are unlikely to pass it on. Yet according to the CDC, the rate of children visiting emergency rooms has risen steeply. What’s causing this? Not COVID. Our kids are struggling with their mental and emotional health. Kids need community, friends, activity, and consistency. They get a lot of these things at school, and we took that away in to prevent a disease that does not affect them.
Family and Financial Burdens
I have an employee who is a single mom with two kids in the Boise School District, one of them “entered” Kindergarten last fall. Imagine the frustration when she learned Boise School District was moving online. She couldn’t be home to manage the online kindergarten experience because she has to work full time to put dinner on the table. She paid the additional cost to do online kindergarten remotely from the daycare, but they stopped offering that after just three days because it was such a disaster. She had to pay a private school with money she didn’t have so her son could participate in real Kindergarten and she could keep her job. This is a problem that nearly every family in the Treasure Valley is dealing with.
Our Duty to Our Kids
The “haves” can work around the problem by hiring tutors, sending kids to private school, or arranging for one parent to stay home to manage the kids’ schooling while they “get through” COVID. The “have-nots” go into debt or simply leave their kids to fend for themselves at home alone doing online school. When we stand by and let this happen, we are not giving all our kids their Constitutionally mandated uniform, free, and thorough education.
Once again in the words of the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” I care a whole awful lot. I am speaking for the children and I am insisting we send our kids back to school full-time, in-person once and for all. Governor De Santis recently said, “You don’t need billions of dollars and a special plan to open schools. You just need to open them.” Florida schools have been 100 percent open since August; the state and schools are thriving. I’m calling on all of us to care a “whole awful lot” to work together to get the schools open immediately and to never again sacrifice our kids’ education, mental health, and their parents’ ability to provide for them.