https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26208931 (54 points/86 comments)
Yes, the education aspect is more 'prestigious'. But getting kids out of the house so parents can work and into a social environment where they see other kids is extremely important for most families and society as a whole. The attitude of a school board member implying babysitting isn't their job must be coming from someone who either doesn't currently have young kids or comes from a wealthy enough background that they can't even fathom why this would be an issue for others.
> But getting kids out of the house so parents can work and into a social environment where they see other kids is extremely important for most families and society as a whole.
Yes, and that can be accomplished in a variety of ways, of which schools are one way (probably the riskiest way, in the current pandemic). Take your kids to the playground in the evening. Set up social playdates with other families. Let your kid sleep over at the neighbor's house. Let them visit their cousins and grandparents. Let them walk to school with other kids. Give a firm "no" to your boss for that 4pm meeting!
From what I have seen, most American kids seem to have no friends near where they live, and most American families have too many helicopter parents to let these normal channels of social interaction to work as intended. So they prefer that teachers serve as the helicopter for the majority of their workday instead.
Normalization of the workday to adjust to the fact that most families have working parents is what's needed, not saddling teachers with absorbing that extra load of childcare in addition to teaching.
I can do that because I work remotely for a software company. How's someone who's working the drive-through going to do that? How's the manager of a Walmart going to do that? A pharmacist, a bank teller, a delivery driver?
Taking your kids to the playground in the evening does not address the fact that most people have to work during the day.
What sucks is that if you don't have enough, you might not get hired or not get hours.
But that's yet another issue with our society.
No solution can serve 100% of the people 100% of the time. I would say that American society is already unbalanced enough in this regard that most people who can tell their bosses no for a 4pm meeting (e.g. the administrator participating in a meeting for some committee) are not doing so.
For example, in your example, a bank teller would tell their boss, who would arrange for a replacement. Maybe the bank would have to hire a few more workers, but normalizing this would help a lot. What happens now is that people get punished for it, implicitly as well as explicitly in a fashion that seems to be a holdover from the days of the 1950s. Addressing this as a society rather than shifting that responsibility on to teachers would, in my opinion, be more equitable and sustainable.
> Taking your kids to the playground in the evening does not address the fact that most people have to work during the day.
Yes, the cherry-picked suggestion that you mentioned does not. How ever, the other suggestion that I had in the same paragraph of having them stay with their grandparents or cousins would address this problem. Treating “normal social interactions“ and “watching over kids when their parents are not around“ is exactly what I am recommending against.
Why not say that schools are a mix between learning and childcare, learning finishes at X and then there is activities/playground time after that.
> Give a firm "no" to your boss for that 4pm meeting!
Great for those that can. What about families that require physical presence or abnormal hours?
> most American kids seem to have no friends near where they live
As a Brit in London, I don't live near many of my friends. We often meet up in central London as its convenient. When I was a kid, many of my friends didn't live near me because school was a few villages away and I liked people from other villages. Kids don't choose their friends based on location.
To me, it seems inefficient for every parent to sort their own childcare when you could centralise it into an institution dedicated to children?
Great! In America, some schools do provide these sorts of programs, called "after-care" for people who cannot take charge of their children after school time. They are typically not handled by teachers, and you have to pay extra for them. There are solutions like kibbutz, which other countries have implemented, that would be a good fit as well.
In practice, I have observed that enough parents do seem to be able to handle their childcare (where I live) that it's not a free program that's paid for by society through increased taxes. But that's a possible option as well.
Also small children require way more constant attention than you seem to admit.
The adults don't need to set up playdates, but they do need to think about traffic and general safety.
...and wearing a mask, social distancing and germ theory.
Anecdotally, from when I was in school, the parents who first and foremost treated school as daycare and expressed such sentiments also didn't really care whether their kids learned all that much or behaved well.
Now whether or not schools should be primarily childcare is an entirely separate debate.
If schools explicitly acknowledged their dual purpose, then they could more cleanly separate the two functions. I think doing so would even improve the educational component.
I've volunteered in high school classrooms quite a lot. The amount of wasted time is astounding. Hours upon hours of boring nonsense that somehow actively detracts from learning. Students are so bored from sitting around all day. Also, they instinctively learn that 80% of every lecture period is filler nonsense but are quite bad at guessing which 20% they should be paying attention to.
Even in subjects that shouldn't be cut (e.g., Geometry) the lecture periods could be safely halved and probably improve educational outcomes.
Schools are great facilities for child care, BTW. Computers, gyms, fields, sports equipment, books, ...
Why not just admit that about half of the classroom time alotted to most subjects exists for fill-up-butt-in-seat-time purposes only and then openly embrace the fact that the school is an educational institution whose physical plant is also useful for leisure/childcare? Heck, university campuses already do this...
By calling themselves "babysitters" they are expressing they are being insulted by the parents. They are trying to convey that they deserve more respect than what they are receiving.
There are likely a large number of school board members, teachers, and even parents who complain because they want more emphasis on the teaching and less on the babysitting. I can imagine a lot of tension in the future around this fundamental contention.
Then, when they graduate from school, we expect them to swim and thrive in an environment that they have very little experience in, and that which a lot of people somehow muddle through life without certain vital skills like cooking.
OK. School functions as 'daycare' center. Sure. Because our society is structured such that parents are forced to work two jobs.
Except more bullshit and people giving you way too much homework.
Education and keeping a child busy are very very different things and should be different. Else the quality of education, which is already not held as high as it used to be, will erode further.
However these days it's often necessary for both parents to work, and thus no one is available to watch the kids (and i'm glossing over single parents for simplicity).
If education was prestigious, we'd pay teachers more than $30k per year.
In the case of teachers, we take advantage of their passion for helping children, even to their own detriment (i.e. buying their own school supplies).
Reality is that we pay taxes for children to go to school to get an education. I personally think we need school choice for the very reasons presented by this school board.
Maybe, I want my kid to only spend 3 hours a day in a classroom with kids and I'll teach them the rest -- can't do that in the U.S.
Maybe, I need my children to be in a safe environment while I work a dead-end job to make enough money to pay for their food.
The truth is, we pay taxes and the state, in effect, assists in raising the children. In 2020 they stopped doing that. Zoom does not help raise a 6-8 year old, who are they kidding. Continuing this going forward when the current research we have shows minimal risk from having students go to school is insane.
This school board should resign and everyone in the district should lobby for allowing school choice. This would help dismantle the power these school boards have and improve education quality.
In 2020 there was a pandemic that shut down many things other than schools. That pandemic is, unfortunately, still ongoing.
This is tantamount to saying "I pay taxes, so the road I go to work on should always be open regardless of construction activity". But in reality, roads are often closed for construction activity or if there is a natural disaster, or for a host of other reasons that make them unsafe.
> This school board should resign and everyone in the district should lobby for allowing school choice. This would help dismantle the power these school boards have and improve education quality.
"The transport board should resign because I cannot go to work on I-123 due to an avalanche warning". That's an extremely simplistic view of a complex public health disaster that's currently affecting us.
There's a reason the "U.S." doesn't allow that - education is left to the states by the US constitution. That said, there are many states where you can do what you propose - not all of them, and some make it easier than others, but it's not against federal law to do so.
Minimal risk to child students, but risky to parents and very risky for grandma and grandpa if they live with the children too. I'm blessed that I can work from home, and realize not everyone can, so remote learning has not been that much of a bummer. That said, I am not sending my child back to in-person school unless 1. everyone in my household is vaccinated or 2. the government forces me.
In the meantime many parents I'm sure are in the terrible situation of keeping their kids home to keep them safe vs... going to work.
Seems to mostly work out ok on Twitter...
— Most vocal are the ones with special-need child and often the most neglected category of students with frequent non-compliance to Federal and state laws on special education.
(I doubt redirecting tax dollars would increase choice. Plus, we already have a hybrid public/private marketplace for education in our university system. That experiment is... not going too well, to the least.)
The evidence says opening schools is safe. Why the teachers unions have prevented reopening schools en masse is criminal. This audio is damning and shows the attitude towards parents.
Person making the claim needs to comeup with "the evidence" not the other way around.
So when should schools be opened according to this?
Hope this administration follows common sense.
EDIT: would love to know why anyone would downvote this. Seems uncontroversial to people who aren't anti-vax.
She isn't focusing on zoom for 15 minutes. She can barely use the track pad to unmate herself.
People who don't want to be at things ruin those things for people who do want to be there in every cross section of society.
These passive aggressive kids who try to dismantle the class need to be removed from good students. People online demand that teachers be like part superhero, part hilarious talk show host they don’t realize how exhausting it is to hold back 20-30 kids day after day for that one kid or group who hate going to school and only want to ruin the day for everyone else.
We can all admit that there are some toxic people at the office yet to suggest as much with children is heavily frowned upon. I now have a live and let live approach to these specific kids. They can waste time, zone out, even chat with their buddies but as soon as they cross the line into bothering someone else then I must intervene.
It’s really difficult to make everyone happy. It’s so wild to me how some kids will love me while others will view me as like some kind of antagonist in a Charles Dickens story no matter how much I try to win them over. They just don’t want to be there.
We decided as a society that not only is education valuable for people, it's a human right. So we, as a society, have failed if we fail to provide an education for our children.
Many children don't like going to school. Some subset of children wind up acting out in a ton of different ways, but often it is disruptive to classes and wastes a ton of time. Their actions have a direct negative impact on the children who actually want to attend classes and learn. But education is the right of everyone, even children who actively resist school, so we don't remove them.
I get the point you're trying to make, that maybe our children would benefit more from just being allowed to be children, to be rowdy and play with friends, have freedom and activity instead of hours of lessons per day sitting in a chair. I get that. I even agree with it to a point.
But it's extremely asinine to suggest that somehow this is the fault of the well behaved kids or the kids who genuinely love school.
Some kids are diligent and eager to learn, but that doesn't mean keeping them on often absurd tasks or tasks with few applications in the real world is meaningful. Spending a decade optimizing for specific exams for specific institutions whose degrees are undergoing inflation at a rapid pace doesn't seem very efficient, but at least it's a compromise between various actors with various needs (parents needing a break, a lack of resources for each child, companies needing a quick if imperfect way to evaluate candidates, young people wanting an environment with people their own age etc.) Unfortunately, this compromise is being torn asunder by systemic forces that keep parts of it in place and make other parts increasingly unworkable.
I don't have a solution in mind right now but I don't think it's as simple as just dumber kids ruining it, although it obviously is a factor in what makes schools unpleasant
I do want to add that it's not necessary "dumb" kids who are ruining it. Just kids who don't want to be there, either because they don't want to participate or because they are bored, or because they aren't capable of sitting quietly for hours and hours, or they'd rather do something else, or whatever.
I hope I'm not coming across as bitter, because I am in fact quite optimistic. We have the technological means to spread education far more easily. Bright students are faced with a more competitive world but also have the tools to make progress on just about anything. With ML, it might even be possible to offer personalized courses and the attention that every individual kid or young adult might need.
Of course educating children is important but the current method of doing so is not the only possible one, and arguably prioritises the lifestyle of so-called teachers over that of children, parents, and taxpayers in general.
What if the lesson of COVID is that MOOCs are actually better? Or homeschooling is actually better? Why should we go on paying teachers who, despite their bleating, are actually very well compensated for what they do (when they bother to show up).
Statements like these are always interesting to me. Covid has killed half a million Americans in under a year. During that year, many parents are operating at reduced productivity, and their children are likely getting less out of their public education than usual. How do you compare these two statements to clarify that one is worse than the other? Obviously a known death toll is an easily identifiable bad thing. The other half of the equation is harder to quantify.
Some benefits include children being exposed to new forms of large group virtual communication. They are likely not well-adapted to them at this point - maturity and focus and motivation are all likely lacking, especially for rushed, poorly designed virtual systems. Then again, perhaps there will be a rubber band effect of refreshed engagement as children return to physical education in the year ahead.
That being said, I don't think you're expressing yourself well, or communicating with others well. What we saw in 2020 was a lot of lightly tested theories about what would and would not work, some being encouraged only to later be found to be incorrect. And the 2020 winter has been a complete flood of community transmission. So one approach might be to take a list of available actions to reduce transmission where possible, and hopefully cumulatively make a big difference, even if each action contributes a small amount.
We also know that educators are among Phase 1b for vaccine qualification, so we should be able to imagine that having a largely vaccinated population of teachers should improve both safety of opening schools physically, as well as the optics of doing so without putting our teachers at risk.
There's also no evidence of schools that are open (nationally it's about 70% of them that are open to some extent or another) being large vectors for spreading COVID, so clearly precautions are being taken.
I was trying to make a point that how what is going in "GOP lead states" is relevant to my school.
Until vaccination rates hit a tipping point, putting people back together now will create a spike.
I do not really get the concern? So it takes longer for Timmy or Alice to get to multiplication?
I've had to quarantine my oldest since his younger brother is at risk (asthma), and the toll it took on him was insane. We talked with him constantly over voice and video calls, he interacted with his brother over Amazon Echo's drop-in feature and online games, and we tried to do everything we could to make it as 'fun' as we could. He still has nightmares about being locked away from his brother, or that he got his brother really sick.
Why are we pushing for widely opening schools when even half-occupancy is dangerous enough to cause this kind of trauma to a child?
I'm sure I'm gonna get asked why they're in person, but the reasons venture to more personal than I care to post, but in short, they're both in Spec. Ed and weren't coping with virtual learning at all, even after many months of trying to figure it out. Combine that with two working parents and you have a recipe for virtual schooling (or zoom school as my kids call it).
I say we shouldn't open schools until we can vaccinate school staff. Preferably also students, but I realize that since most kids are in low-risk groups that's likely far off. Perhaps for high-risk students with compromised respiratory systems.