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Lockdown forced us to examine schooling

One of the more surprising aspects of the pandemic has been the willingness of our school systems to hold our children’s education hostage to the demands of their special interests.


This is not surprising to those of us who pay attention to such things. “More for adults, less for kids” has been the rule rather than the exception for years.

Since Proposition 30 passed in 2012, school funding has risen twice as fast as inflation, but as The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kristen Taketa’s February 2020 analysis showed, “All but one of the 42 school districts in San Diego County are expecting to spend more than they take in, either this year or in the next two school years.”

And academic performance? The California School Dashboard shows most metrics have barely budged. The huge increases we volunteered to give to our schools “to improve education” have resulted in almost no improvement in education.

Why? Because the majority of that money has gone to higher pay and benefits for all education employees, which have improved their total compensation tremendously — with median total compensation exceeding $100,000 a year and increase rates far exceeding inflation. But almost no measurable improvement in education.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen the “adults first” bias more clearly than ever. Overwhelming evidence shows in-person school is rarely responsible for spreading COVID-19. Cases attributable to in-school spread are minimal.

Not surprising given the billions that have been provided to schools for preventative measures.

Yet despite clear evidence of the damage it is doing to our kids — both in mental health and academic performance — schools remain closed.

Depression and suicides are a constant topic. An incredible surge in failing grades is putting an entire class of kids in danger of losing their opportunity for college.

Clearly the education establishment is looking out for its own interests, not the interests of our kids.

Parents understand this education disaster is not the fault of teachers. They understand teachers are unhappy with the situation as well. However, those teachers are not repudiating their unions, the driving forces behind the disrespect for the mental, emotional and academic well-being of our children.

Clearly our children are being used as pawns in a game designed to further the interest of unions, not our kids.

Fortunately, parents are also now seeing the value of education alternatives.

Data shows steep enrollment declines in public schools combined with sharp growth in alternatives — charters and private schools. Schools that are paying attention to facts, and parent wishes.

The pandemic has shown parents the value of being able to freely choose how their kids are educated. If there were more choices available our kids would be less vulnerable to hostage-taking scenarios. That genie is out of the bottle.

The California School Choice Foundation is working to qualify an initiative for the 2022 ballot providing for true school choice.

Perhaps parents will finally be willing to support expanding their own right to choose for their kids.

We can only hope.

Todd Maddison, Oceanside


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