As schools start opening in Chicago and elsewhere in conformance with the science and federal guidelines, a few stubborn people who should know better are holding out: Highland Park District 113 administrators and Chicago Teachers Union members.
It shouldn't have been a surprise that 71 percent of CTU members voted to demand that they get to stay out of school and continue getting paid for teaching remote. I was surprised though, because I had assumed that the CTU leadership was generally more extremist than most members. But three out of four teachers voting against their students' welfare--well, that is astonishing and gut wrenching.
Less noticed, however, is the attack on the 3,500 students who attend Deerfield and Highland Park high schools by their governing board of District 113. There, the school board has refused supplications by an increasing number of parents to open the schools, parents who are beside themselves with worry about the physical and mental health of their children.
The board members cannot be ignorant of the research that shows that children taught remotely are losing ground and that the shutdown is most challenging for the least prepared students. Moreover, this wealthy district has an uncounted number of students and their parents who are looking to enroll in the most respected and prestigious universities, many in the Ivy League. Being kept out of the classroom is a direct affront to these students and their parents.
How can a school board be so insensitive? Who knows? At board meetings, parents are given a short opportunity to express their concerns, but receive no response. No dialogue. We've decided what's best for your kids and you can go shove it.
In an email to me, one parent, Suzanne Wahl, said to me:
I am a desperate parent in Highland Park and I need your help!
Our kids are being held hostage by a board with no vested interest in allowing our kids to return to school. D113 is using metrics different from surrounding schools and has NO PLAN to return our children to their only true pathway to learning and development.
Other schools in the same area: D225, New Trier, and even our OWN elementary/Jr. High District 112 are returning soon or are already offering in person learning.
And as I am sure you are aware, D225 returned after a Glenbrook North student tragically committed suicide. Horrific and preventable.
Indeed, in Lake County, in 2020, there were zero (0) Covid Deaths in the 18 and under age bracket.
Conversely, there were 4 suicides--double that of 2019. These numbers are directly from the Lake County coroner.
How many more kids must die before we open D113?
Maybe someone can explain to me why these school officials and teachers are so callous, so self-serving, so deaf to the pleas of the students and their parents. Are they ignorant of the science? Are they so partisan that because former President Trump wanted the schools open that they feel compelled to oppose it? (President Joe Biden now urges schools to open.) Are they so arrogant that they rigidly follow some ridiculous educational dogma in the face of opposing facts right in front of them. Are they so compulsively ideological that they are blind to the reality of the harm they are doing to their students?
It beats me. Whatever the explanation, it's wretched, They should not be allowed anywhere near our children.
For more on this, I highly recommend you read Ted Dabrowski, who writes in Wirepoints: "Officials refuse to open doors at top-spending Deerfield/Highland Park school district as surrounding districts return to in-class learning."