LENOIR, N.C. — What is the best way to learn? By example. In other words, actions speak louder than words.
That being the case, the children attending Caldwell County’s Public Schools are getting a fine lesson in how not to lead. The decision by the School Board, as I’ve already written here and here, to return children to school is not remotely supported by scientific evidence. They have ignored the “Public” in Public Health. They are being negligent. In the board’s latest meeting, safety plans were outlined. They are platitudes and do not take into account the reality of how children interact. (We’ll consider insight from teachers about how that’s going to work in reality, not theory, in an upcoming article).
But we should not be surprised. This is the same School Board that failed to manage a most basic item in its budget — the Fund Balance (savings account). You can read about it here and here. And, it had to reverse course on its plan to require teachers to sign an agreement saying they will not sue the school system if they get COVID-19 while working. The NCAE says the waiver would have been illegal.
So, if these folks are not capable of the most simple of fiduciary tasks, and are cavalier about the lives of teachers to the point of disregarding worker protection laws, what is to make us believe that they can be trusted to protect our children? What evidence is there that they are not going to be equally incompetent in determing what factors should be considered before sending children and staff back to schools?
What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?”Pope Francis, “In Care for Our Common Home”
Safety is Job 1 for the School Board. So, they are either ignoring science, hence implicitly teaching students that science doesn’t matter, or they are aware of the science and for some reason — probably their next election — are caving into public opinion. Well, they are elected to lead. Yes, they are representatives of the people, but also are expected to be thought leaders in the area of education. They simply have not prioritized public health as their top concern in the decision to reopen schools.
In his ecological encyclical “On Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis asked, “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?”
That is a question that begs answering by the School Board. The school system’s slogan, right at the top of its web homepage is “To provide quality instruction in a safe, caring environment” (emphasis added). So, let us ask of the Caldwell County Board of Education members: Do you wish to be known for your inability to meet your most basic responsibility — protecting our children when they are in your care?
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN THIS SERIES ON THE CORONAVIRUS