The following statement was received from Mary Anne Hering, Working Class Party candidate for Michigan State Board of Education.
Throughout big cities and rural areas, students might as well not have been in school last year. Nine-year-olds in most of those districts fell so far behind that it will take them one whole year just to catch up to where they should be right now (according to the standard tests taken at the end of last year).
Those were the students subjected to
learning at a distance. Classes were carried out over computer networks. But most students couldn't regularly hook into them. Some didn't have computers, or the computers were too slow, or there wasn't internet access, or other kids in the family were attempting to log on at the same time.
And when they got to school, they were condemned to constant quarantines and shutdowns, as more people came down with Covid.
Yes, coronavirus set this off. But the virus was only a small part of the problem.
The real problem, with or without Covid, is the way school systems are organized.
Schools need to be upgraded so they have good air circulation. More schools need to be opened, so students aren't packed like sardines in classrooms. The number of teachers should be tripled or quadrupled, so each student can have individual attention as needed. More support personnel are needed – nurses, counselors, maintenance workers, office workers – so schools can function in a safe and clean way. A real computer network should be set up so that every child could participate fully if school has to be
at a distance.
What was needed during the time of Covid were the same things needed during an ordinary school year – just magnified because of the virus. Children of working people need the same conditions that exist in the schools where wealthy people send their children. That means money should be spent on all public schools, lots more money than what goes to most of them today.
There is public money in this country that could pay for the schools, enormous amounts of tax money. But it is invested in things that increase the profit of the capitalist class: research for profitable computer chip makers; subsidies for profitable energy companies; subsidies for electric vehicles for profitable auto companies; subsidies for a very profitable aerospace industry and its rockets. Banks are bailed out. And money literally gushes into that most profitable of industries: military weapons and this system's wars.
A system reveals its values by what it spends its money on. This capitalist system spends it on the profit of a very tiny minority of the population, the capitalist class, while condemning children of working people to an education which would not serve them in the 19th century, much less in the 21st.