Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Education leaders: Make the right choice

A pandemic rages throughout the globe.

How should educational leaders react?

They should make the right choice by putting the safety of students, teachers, and families first.

We are fortunate to live at a time when children can learn at home via technology--the tools exist to teach children every subject in safe, virus-free ways in their homes. This is amazing. During the pandemic, educational institutions everywhere can elevate the frequency and quality of these tools to teach children well. 

How can families support this kind of learning without experience, when they have to work, and if they have multiple children of different ages?

This is a challenge, and I suggest that the nation give every family that makes $200,000 or less with children under 12 a hardy childcare stipend to support their need for childcare during this time. Families can choose to use the stipend to afford to stay home and work with their children or they can hire a familly member or someone else to support their children during this time. That money can be considered an investment in strengthening family life throughout the country. That money will also serve to support women well since women in general take on most childcare and teaching responsibilities. 

What will be the long term gain of a plan like this?

The pandemic has clearly demonstrated that schools have become a catch-all for society's problems and neglect. That fact has challenged schools' abilities to educate because education institutions are not families or parents--educational institutions are centers for dynamic learning and teaching. I believe that we need to either disconnect schools from the many social services they provide, or even better, broaden what we know as school into family heath and education centers. If we do that, we can recognize that communities need food centers, social service centers, and mental/physical health centers that are easily accessible and affordable. These centers would serve all family members including students, and would operate in conjunction with schools, but separate from schools. That means when school closes, students and their family members still have ready access to health care, social services, and nutrition--schools alone should not be the center of all those services, and those services need to serve whole families together--that's the best way to develop strong families, which in turn will result in strong, supported, ready-to-learn students.

Pandemic promise
The pandemic has laid bare the inequities and neglect in society. Clearly many organizations and services for families have not been developed appropriately over time. Thus we see too many families in need of essential health care, nutrition, homes, education, and social services. We can clearly do better by America's families in so many ways, and this pandemic gives us time to focus on these needs in the following ways:
  • Rethink and support dynamic childcare models that represent the BEST supports for healthy children and healthy families. We can do this better--we can do this in ways that create successful, happy, and healthy families.
  • Rethink and support dynamic education institutions that teach children in a large variety of worthy ways that elevate student, teacher, family health and success. 
  • Rethink and support healthy, peaceful, productive communities that include good homes, accessible health care, nutrition, and social services, healthy recreation options, and environmentally positive policies and actions. 
In other words, the promise of this pandemic is to elevate the way we can live in peaceful, healthy, successful ways. We can do this by making sure that our policies, economy, laws, and investments support good living. Let's tackle the inequity that the pandemic has laid bare, and make better. We can do this.