Are public schools trying to stop students from transferring to private schools? Perhaps so.
I’m not using people’s or school district’s real names because there would be retaliation. But I know this story is true.
Mia is a lively and sociable third grader. At least she was until her public school kicked her and her classmates out of the classroom. Since then, she had spent months at home, seemingly tied to a computer to get a second- or third-rate eduction.
Her cheerfulness disappeared. She cried because she missed her friends and the personal interaction of the classroom. She didn’t want to do it anymore.
Her mother, Valerie, was frightened. Her child was changing before her eyes. She wasn’t herself. She was becoming lethargic and less interested in things that she used to enjoy. She pouted when she had to get out of bed in the morning, no longer the person who excitedly greeted each day.
The school district clung to its stubborn and unscientific insistence that in-classroom learning was unsafe. It had discussed re-opening the schools, but prospective dates kept getting pushed back. It began to look like classrooms would be closed indefinitely.
Valerie began looking for a private school that would take her and restore Mia to her former, happy self.
It was a long and arduous search. Some schools weren’t taking any new students; they had been filled with other students fleeing the straitjacket of remote learning. Other schools weren’t what she want for her child.
Then she found the right one, perfect for Mia.
Enter Catch 22.
The new, private school reasonably wanted to find out all it could about the prospective student, Mia. Her grades, her behavior, her sociability, her health. Recommendation and observations from Mia’s public school teachers. All was needed before Mia would be admitted.
Shouldn’t be a problem. Mia was a good student, sociable and motivated. But when Valarie approached the public schools office, she was told they would not provide the transcripts until….Mia’s computer used for remote instruction was returned to the school.
Well, there’s a problem. Mia could not enter the new school until her transcripts were examined by the new school. But the school would not send the transcripts to the new school until Mia left the old school and returned the computer. Catch 22 for sure.
A frustrated Valarie would not give up. She did a work-around, getting Mia’s grades “informally” sent to the new school. Sympathetic teachers wrote good recommendations for Mia. Persistence paid off; the private school said they had enough information to conclude that Mia would be a good addition to the school.
That settled and Mia admitted, Valarie returned the computer to the old school, along with an ear-full. Her rational complaints were met with the usual bureaucratic and condescending response. The computer has to be returned because “it’s policy.” Which is to say, “it is what it is.” Which is no explanation at all.
Mia’s first day at the private school was nothing short of spectacular. Students and the teacher greeted Mia enthusiastically. Welcome posters were hung. When Valarie walked into the school on the first day, the principal greeted her and knew her name.
Mia was nearly beside herself for getting into an actual classroom with new friends and an attentive teacher. Upon her return home, Mia told her Mom that she learned more that day in school than anytime. She was looking forward to meeting new friends. Mia’s smile and enthusiasm returned almost instantly.
It was as if she was freed from a prison. One that was her own home where she had been confined by people she never met. By people who ignored the hurt they were causing her, her friends and classmates. These arrogant regulators who are punishing the children and her parents are either incompetent, fools or locked into a political agenda and ideology.
Upon reflection, Valarie has come to believe that the rule about returning the computer as a condition for releasing the transcripts was intentionally designed to reduce the flight of students out of the public school system. Thousands of students who were able to break the bureaucratic shackles in the district have transferred to other schools. Students and parents have rejoiced in their freedom.
They also escaped the dire physical and mental health consequences of locking up children at precisely the time when they need to learn socialization and other skills needed to succeed in life. The CDC has underscored research that in-person learning is safe and that remote learning is destructive,
The school board, mayors and governors who continue to ignore this are immoral. Especially so are the teachers unions that so brazenly fight in-school instruction. How long will this be allowed to continue? This is the most pressing civil rights issue of our time.