Updated: Apr 8
A solid group of area parents made a commitment over the past several weeks to give voice to our community. They mapped out a wonderful event to give district families a chance to be heard regarding a return to in-person learning. Their efforts resulted in yesterday's super successful rally at District 204 headquarters.
It was wonderful show of support for choice! Our family-including my parents and John's Mom-and many neighbors were proud to attend the event.
Over 150 attendees listened to parents, students, and guest speakers. A D.J. provided music and a local high school student sang the National Anthem. Surrounding school districts-Plainfield, Naperville, and St. Charles-also joined in support (thank you!). Former President of Chicago public schools, Paul Vallas, was kind to lend his experience and voice to the rally. He has been a prominent voice in favor of in-person learning.
Remote learning is an option for all students, however, in-person learning is an overdue option to all students. The momentum at the rally is no doubt carrying over into the theme of tonight's school board meeting. All district stakeholders should keep sharing their respective voices to the board.
COPY OF SPEECH AS WRITTEN:
Corey DeAngelis, adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom is right when he says “School choice shouldn’t be a partisan issue because school choice leads to more equity. It’s about students, not institutions.” THE STUDENTS.
How many of us live here in this area with some of the country’s most burdensome property taxes, specifically for our school district? Show of hands. When we see that line item deduction labeled Indian Prairie School District 204, averaging 9,000 per single family home, we don’t say, “You know, out of benevolence, I will cut that check. I’m feeling generous this year.” No, we pay it because we want our kids and this community to get a great public school education. Yet those of us who deem our District 204 essential, value it, and pay the taxes and live here to have it…are supposed to settle for a year of zoom calls?
Our 3 kiddos-6th grade, 4th grade, and kindergarten are OK. They do their zooms along with our family dog-he loves the camera. They know their teachers are going above and beyond while balancing their own pandemic lives and households. They want to be back in school and it’s a testament to the experience they have there that they are willing to forego the home cooked meals, the sofa, the endless snacks…to be back in the classroom. We are healthy and trying to make the best of these times.
Why do I tell you this? Well, one district 204 employee posed this question on the 204 Advocacy page this past week: QUOTE “Are you really wanting your kids in school for the right reasons or are you just kinda tired of having them at home?”END QUOTE
When I was asked to speak today, I agreed not on behalf of our kids. If you need the “right reasons” for kids to return to school, how about these reasons…
Open schools for the Kids who were struggling before March 13th when they left the schoolroom and have since been quarantined and away from teachers, support staff, school nurses, regular lunches, exercise…
For kids who have been kept away from accountability, discipline, independence, praise, and growth, friends, and adversaries. You know there are important lessons to be learned from being around people who don’t like you and whom you don’t like. That’s life! Not living in a bubble behind a keyboard.
Open for the Kids who are experiencing or witnessing household trauma because of mental illness or substance abuse.
Open for the kids who cannot ask for help regarding abuse or neglect because they are on a zoom with dozens of students and THIS IS SO IMPORTANT whose teacher can’t offer help or support services because the cues aren’t there without the relationship of trust that gets built from consistent interpersonal communication.
Open for the Kids who can’t enroll in our area private or parochial schools, which are open and waitlisted…or move to another town where schools are open. Schools which have proven by the way that the classroom isn’t a high transmission site and that mitigation works.
These kids are struggling and need more than the glow of a zoom screen and continue to be robbed of the choice. Or maybe, you still need more good reasons to open…
These banners we had made aren’t just for the kids-they are for the primary caregivers who don’t have the emotional, physical, or financial bandwidth to manage remote learning.
These are also for the voiceless educators who didn’t sign up for a career in remote teaching and who know the difference they make in the classroom, everyday with their students, students that are now falling behind, if even attending at all.
We have pleaded for choice for months for choice and the district has been a bombastic failure. They have surveyed, emailed, teased, emailed, teased…summer, August, September, October, November, December, as recently at this past week-more emails. More teasing? Fool us once, twice, three times… time is UP! We have to adapt and move forward and be an example to our kids of what it means to rise above adversity like other schools in our area, country, around the globe. Still waiting here in district 204!
By the way, when they get to school, they shouldn’t be treated like inmates at Statesville prison, right? They’ve been in a months long prison of isolation from true growth. They deserve collaboration and freedom to be kids.
So Vaccines coming out aren’t the great panacea, but it’s a start.
School reopening isn’t the answer to every problem but it’s the start of a long road to recovery from the trauma of this pandemic. Highs and lows but forward moving.
This will be a marathon, not a sprint, and looking out at all of you here on this sunny 37 degree day, this is the starting line! We’ve been here since August haven’t we? Should we invite the district to join us? Yes! We need all of the community on their marks to get set and go. Who’s with me that giving our community the choice for full time in person learning is a necessity!