Rantz: Seattle Schools needlessly exposing kids to coronavirus over social justice

Mar 9, 2020, 10:26 PM | Updated: Mar 10, 2020, 5:09 am
Seattle Public Schools, coronavirus...

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is needlessly exposing children to the coronavirus thanks to a social justice lens they use to make district-wide decisions.

Public and private schools across the Puget Sound have transitioned to a digital learning environment. Rather than put already germy kids in a crowded classroom where coronavirus exposure is risky, schools are letting students do coursework online. Whether or not this is necessary is subjective, but the way SPS determined it’s unnecessary is problematic.

Social justice lens

SPS view everything they do through a radical social justice lens that usually says they’ll have everyone suffer rather than a portion of a group succeed. We’ve seen it in play with honors courses, which SPS aims to get rid of because too may white kids are succeeding, while students of color are not. They’re using the same approach to digital learning.

In an extensive email to parents last week, SPS proactively talked through coronavirus-related issues facing students and parents. The effort should be lauded. They very clearly and effectively communicate their positions, but the content of one position is absurd. Here’s an excerpt from their email:

Why isn’t the district providing online learning?

Seattle Public Schools serves a diverse community with varied access to technology. We are committed to providing high-quality learning for all our students, including those who do not have access to technology or internet at home. Teachers have been asked to prepare up to 14 days of lessons in the event of a student or teacher absence. As the largest district in Washington state, this is the most equitable and fair way to ensure everyone receives the support they need and deserve.

It’s not so much that e-learning should be mandated at this point; I don’t believe that. But it should be an option to keep kids from exposure. SPS is not giving that option because they want to protect students without access to a computer.

The problem

SPS essentially says that because some students can’t afford access to a home computer or internet, that no one should be given the e-learning option. To SPS, this is an equity issue. To reasonable people, this is woke politics run amok.

This is an extraordinary time thanks to the public fear of the coronavirus. It’s unreasonable to say no to all students because a small portion can’t do it. Not all schools have noticeable imbalances between students who do or do not have access to a computer for learning. Not all districts have the exact same socioeconomic makeup.

The latest coronavirus updates

A more reasonable approach is to say if you have access to a computer and internet,  you may attend classes virtually. If you can’t, you have to still come to class. It’s also better for the in-class student if you’re cutting down their exposure. The fewer kids in class, the smaller the risk of being exposed to someone with the coronavirus.

This scenario isn’t unfair. It’s life. We don’t cancel sports teams because not everyone can make practice nor do we cancel spring break because not everyone can go on vacation.

SPS is filled with administrators that don’t believe in equal access; they believe in equal outcome. Everyone has equal access to a computer and internet access. Not everyone can afford it, so you won’t get equal outcome.

That bothers SPS to the point where they’ll punish a kid from e-learning because they want the outcome (ability to stay home) to be equal across the board. And they’ll institute their version of equality even if it means exposing kids unnecessarily to the coronavirus.

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Rantz: Seattle Schools needlessly exposing kids to coronavirus over social justice