Reopening Schools and American Democracy

Real and terrible choices must be made to reopen schools. Very consequential choices with risks and uncertainty. The kinds of choices made in war and disasters. Choices to be made by those unprepared to make them.

Mayors, school boards, and committees elected to make local policies and budgets, are now asked to make very real and tragic choices about who is exposed to contagion and who is not, who will be educated and who will not.

Blame, if you will, an interconnected world, in which a Wuhan “wet market” can send disease around the world. Or blame underfunded international health organizations. Or blame an electorate who chose a national leader for his bluster, over competence and character. Or blame a President who crippled the federal response with weak appointments, distraction, and inaction. Or blame his enablers in Congress who discount science and government as solutions.

Blame or not, this year we ask our local leaders to make real and frightening choices. With tightened budgets and persistent coronavirus threats, students, families, and teachers will all face risks – many that could have been avoided.

If it is true that “Every nation gets the government it deserves,” then America must show it deserves better this November.

This post appeared as a letter to the editor of WHAV on July 24, 2020.