Thursday, October 8, 2020

For Whom The School Bell Tolls

The back-to-school bell is about to ring and it isn't clear if that bell is not cracked. In DeKalb many of the hell-no-we-won't-go teachers appear serious about not showing up, though some will seek paycheck protection under the FMLA. The focus has been on the most vocal group, the teachers, but will parents heed the call and send in the kids?

The hybrid approach offers limited schoolhouse time and the rule of "one is remote--all are remote" mitigates almost all of what value there may be to in-the-classroom presence. The limited schedule will not provide the freedom that parents who cannot work from home need to get their jobs done. For parents able to stay at home the crippling limitations of hybrid may cause further disengagement. What will they do? What are their options? And since this is DeKalb, what are their demographics?

In many cases options are already being explored. Edu-Pods are forming. Homeschool is getting a serious look by parents that otherwise would never have considered that option. Virtual academics, beyond the DCSD OJT option, are gaining traction. And there are always private schools with increased demand driving the creation of new schools.

Options are limited by the demographics of the parents. High income, already-remote workers can leverage most if not all of these options. As the collar shifts from white to blue, viable options fall off. This phenomena will vary by geography to the extent that income and flexibility vary. And it will probably track voting characteristics as well.

And the result? Many who can will leave the public school system leaving behind those philosophically wedded to public education and those who simply cannot access other options. The demographic skew will push towards an impoverished school system with little hope of overcoming longstanding, systemic financial, operational and educational failings.

If you thought things at DeKalb County Schools could not get any worse this pandemic may be enlightening.