I felt the need to respond to our local school superintendents about the passage of the law requiring schools to offer in person classes. I do have to agree with Mr. Hoover that it is due to the actions of a few school districts. What offends me is the perception that only the school boards control the schools. School boards are elected by people in the school districts. School boards are supposed to listen to their constituents just like any other elected official. I appreciate our schools in Jackson County for opening for in person instructions for students. However, the state’s largest school district, chose to have only online classes.
I have several friends with kids in the Des Moines and surrounding districts. We all talked about what our schools were doing, and most were jealous that my child would be in school Monday through Friday when the 2020-21 school year began.
The Des Moines District has continued to only allow online instruction. A close friend has middle and high school students in the East High School in the Des Moines District. If any are familiar with Des Moines, East is probably the most diverse and poor schools in the city. She and her husband attended every school board meeting along with many of their neighbors, to share their frustration with online learning. We know from the statistics that most kids did not do well in online learning. In this district there are many ESL (English as a second language) parents, homes without internet service, and poverty. My friend was genuinely concerned with a few kids in her neighborhood that have a violent home life and school is their escape. They do not have the support system to ensure kids get online, let alone do their homework.
The real sticking point with my friend and her husband, was the fact that the Vice Chair of the Des Moines PUBLIC School Board, Dwana Bradley, sends her high schooler to Grandview Christian School and bragged on Facebook about him being on the Homecoming Court for football. In fact, Ms. Bradley even posted to her Facebook page she had “fought” to keep Des Moines students 100 percent virtual “based upon a moral high ground argument” that concerned parents say is affecting students academically, emotionally as well as their opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities. Iowa Standard, September 21, 2020.
My point is local control of students begins and remains in the home with the parents. This new law ensures that parents have the choice to send kids to school in person, online or to a private school. That is exactly where local control should remain.
Monica J. McHugh