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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Reese Kusza

Back to School (Sort of)

The new academic year has started and kids were thrilled to go back to school and college. Well, the ones who were allowed to go back to school and college.

I have heard, anecdotally, there has been a boom in enrollment in private and parochial schools that offer in-person classes because so many public schools are still closed and only offering remote or "hybrid" learning. Even though the majority of COVID-19 deaths are among the elderly and older adults with multiple co-morbidities and kids aren't dying as they do with H1N1 and measles, there is no reasoning with certain factions.

Never mind that the National Education Association supports defunding police and other things that have nothing to do with educating children. While saying classrooms are unsafe, some educators are out at “mostly peaceful protests” and parents are being forced to do double duty, unpaid, and teach their own rug rats.

I know plenty of teachers and professors who want to go back to work in the classroom and are forbidden to do so by state and local mandates. I commend them for making the most of this farce and doing their best to instruct young people from afar and in classroom situations that are half-baked.

I am glad I am not dealing with this absurdity as a parent. There is no way I could have worked four jobs and taught four kids. I had to do enough remediation at home when they were in school and that was over a decade ago. I was a lousy tutor and I cannot imagine having to do all the work. I don’t know how parents are doing it now. I also never looked at school as daycare, but I understand it does serve that purpose for a lot of families.

My daughters were able to have the on-campus “college experience” (they wonder, now, if it was even worth it). My son is doing his first semester from home. It is pathetic. Online learning is a joke. I take classes online out of necessity and I see an awful lot of “cut and paste”. Does anyone have an original thought anymore? I don’t see how anyone can really be engaged through a computer screen, Zoom or no Zoom.

The energy you get from an enthusiastic instructor who wants to be there, front and center, is invaluable. At least it has been for me, but, then again, I didn’t grow up with a phone glued to my hand and a constant stream of entertainment in front of my face.

Sure, there will always be a few who never want to leave the comfort of their couches and will spend the rest of their lives expecting other people to do for them, but there are plenty of young people who can’t wait to get back in the classroom.

They want to be in school. They want to engage. They are showing up for the few in-person classes that are available to them or they are patiently waiting until on-campus classes are an option again. Why waste money on garbage?

I cannot imagine paying full price for a four-year university right now. Who wants to shell out $40,000 a year for nothing? I would hope the short-sightedness of keeping the planet shut down might even give a boost to trade schools and community colleges that don’t charge as much in tuition and give students some usable skills.

Months of being stuck at home, alone, watching crap on the internet must really be starting to get to them.

I am fortunate to know a lot of young adults (and quite a few older ones) who have overcome more than their share of misery and are busting their humps to work and go to school and make a better life for themselves. They aren’t waiting on someone else to solve their problems for them like some pampered brat. They certainly aren’t rioting.

There are a lot more students out there whom no one is thinking of when they are talking about keeping school remote for the rest of the year.

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