The school year has started, but not without its troubles. Internally, a rift between administrators and staff is being aired in public. So are the daily brawls between students, primarily girls, that begin like clockwork at the end of the school day. Parents of special needs students are anxious and angry that their children or grandchildren are missing out on learning because buses arrive late or not at all. And, Congress refused to extend the free lunch program for students who, during COVID, could get meals regardless of income, and now parents of children that rely on free school meals and are income eligible must sign up or go hungry.
Children and teachers continue to worry about their health and experience anxiety post-COVID. “Are we really there yet?” some worry, even though masks and social distancing are no longer required. Distant learning has ended, but now that students are back in the classroom, it is clear how remote they have become from grade-level proficiency in reading and math.
The mental health of students and staff remains a concern. Mass school shootings are a very recent memory and disconcerting to many. Some schools and school districts are still fighting against installing metal detectors and armed security to protect students. In contrast, others question whether police in schools is a good idea and do they help to make schools more secure.
If there is no other reason why Americans need to go to the polls in November, one must be to ensure all newly elected or reelected leaders offer a plan to improve all schools and the quality of education for all children, even those who sit in classrooms just weeks after crossing the borders with their families in search of a better opportunity.
Just as law enforcement suggests that the cure to end violence does not begin and end with them, classroom teachers are not the sole cure for a broken education system. All children are owed the opportunity to learn in schools with adequate resources that are safe and welcoming. Quality education in America should not be a privilege for a few but a right for every child.