John Livingston News

What’s in a Name?

I have many times written with reverence about the teachers and coaches in my life who always seemed to inspire and motivate me. Almost any successful person I have known can point to specific moments and people that changed the course of their lives. The unintended consequences of the type 2 mitigation strategies that have been deployed in almost every state—masks social distancing using community stay in place and quarantine strategies when those most at risk have been improperly taken care of, are only now coming to light.

The biggest damage has been to our children who have now lost over 1 year of education. And the children that are the most damaged are those living on the margins, the poor, those who don’t speak English as a native language, and those with developmental problems. I know of teachers in my community and throughout Idaho who are attending to these at risk children using their own time and resources, making house calls, making sure that they not only stay academically connected, but those living under adverse situations at home can at least have an opportunity of being engaged if even for a short time with learning. How for example if both parents are working or if only one parent is in the home and is working does one make sure that learning continues in home or a day care or a friend or neighbors home? God Bless these men and women—many retired or working in other jobs themselves who see the problem for what it is, and who give of themselves to help children at risk.

Just like organized medicine and the hospital associations are primarily interested in looking after the interests of their member’s businesses and not necessarily patients, those in the organized education business seem to be looking after the interests of their teacher members and not the students they teach. Why for the life of me did several local school boards in our state continue to pay teachers for months, when they weren’t teaching? And how could teachers look their neighbors in the eye who had lost their jobs and businesses and continue to draw a pay check?

And what about the commissars in government who have overstated the risk of both children and teachers of coming back to the classroom. We know that the chances of a teacher being infected with Covid-19 is extremely small—less than 1% and if infected that teacher has less than a 50% chance of even developing symptoms, and less than a 4% chance of being hospitalized and less than a 1/1000 chance of dying if they are less than 40 years old. How many teachers in Idaho less than 40yrs of age and without immune compromised conditions have died? As of last week cumulative deaths for anyone less than 40 years of age have been 8! Eight! How many of those 8 were teachers. How many people under the age of 18 have died in Idaho? 0! Zero!

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I understand if a teacher is over the age of 65 their concern and they should have the choice of how they mitigate their own risk. If they choose take an unpaid sabbatical that would be fine. They should not get paid for not working. Their job should be available to them at a time when they again feel safe from the pandemic.

Human capital is the most valuable resource we have and it is the responsibility of families to decide how that resource is developed. Government should respond to the needs of the families not succumb to the political pressure of special interest groups like teachers unions. The people pay for schools and the people should be allowed more say in how the schools function. A simple solution would be if a parent is not happy with the way the system is working they should be given a voucher equal to the amount that it costs for their child to attend school. The money should follow the child not the school district. The interesting thing about this kind of a system is that private Catholic and Christian Schools educate our children at about half the cost that the public schools do. These schools have just as many children with handicaps and developmental disorders and actually serve to backfill children who have discipline problems in the public schools. Teachers in these school system are far more connected to the children. They have little allegiance to a union or trade organization. I learned this early on when 30 years ago our little Parish basketball team—8th graders played a game against North Jr. High. In those days all the players on each team were introduced to the parents in the stands before the game. The coach of the North team had a piece of paper in her hand and read—sometimes mispronouncing the names, of her players, the lineup. Our coach at Sacred Heart had no “cheat sheet” in her hand, looked each player in the eye—stated their name—and nickname much to the joy of the parents and the players on the team. At half time our Priest who was sitting next to me whispered in my ear—If we ever had a coach that didn’t know the names of our players they would never make that mistake a second time. If they did they’d be fired. Expectations—Accountability.

I remember that story today in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. Our expectations not only for our children but also for our teachers are so low that we are letting a bunch of “experts and politicians” sitting on Health Boards and various advisory groups make decisions that will affect our most valued Treasure—our children, for years to come. Expectations—Accountability

Who is responsible and accountable for the education of your children? Not a Governor’s advisory committee, or a Health District Board of “experts”. You as a parent or guardian are responsible. They don’t even know the name of your kid—just like that North High Basketball coach

Why are we so passive? When did we decide that others know what is best for us? Give me the facts and explain the risks to me and I will decide what is best for me and my family

And for those teachers that are already back or who are coming back let’s pay them appropriately. When a teacher decides not to work—they shouldn’t be paid—just like their neighbors didn’t get paid when they were laid off or lost their own businesses.

Let’s open up Idaho—especially our schools.

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