*By Julie Barrett, Founder, Conservative Ladies of Washington
Last night our district’s school board held a forum that allowed parents, teachers and community members to bring concerns and questions to the board members. While I probably don’t align with our current school board any many, if any, issues in our public schools today, I very much appreciate the time that they gave the community in an alternate format from a typical school board meeting. This seemed to provide a format for dialogue and constructive discussion.
During these discussions I was asking about the bond and levy that will be on the ballot next year as well as student enrollment. We know that student enrollment is down across the board in Washington state – and all over the country. I was told that the district is only down 48 students. Forty-eight. That’s it.
That doesn’t sound right, but I did not and as of the time of writing this, do not, have the data to say otherwise. But that’s not really the point of this article. The board members and the superintendent claimed that the unenrollment we have seen in the district is due to parents and students who are afraid of Covid. The reason, they claim, the district has not seen the big drop in numbers is because of the extensive safety measures they have taken for Covid-19.
I would agree that our school district has been number one in the “Covid safety game” from the onset of the pandemic. Our district was, after all, the first in the entire country to close….”out of an abundance of caution.” We were also among the last to open. It is short-sighted and tone-deaf to give the message that unenrollment is due to students and families who are “afraid” of Covid and do not feel safe in a school environment.
I have not met a single family who has unenrolled their student from public school because they are afraid of Covid. Not one.
I talk to a lot of parents and the two most common reasons (there is a long list) students have been unenrolled in public schools is because 1) remote learning that went on for months on end and students weren’t learning and 2) the indoctrination of our children with Critical Race Theory, including the LGBTQ agenda. As schools have returned to in-person learning, children and staff are required to wear masks all day long. In some schools, disciplinary action has been threatened, or taken, against students who are not in compliance (mask not on or mask not covering nose or mouth properly).
Either the school administration and school board are out of touch with students and parents, or they are lying about the real reasons students are being unenrolled from public school to be homeschooled or enrolled in a private school.
School administrators need not pat themselves on the back for their over-the-top Covid-19 “safety measures” as these are not reasons they maintained their enrollment statistics. If anything, these “safety measures” have contributed to the mental health crisis our students are experiences and the lack of academic progress being made by our students.
My word to parents and community members: it’s important for us to hold our schools accountable. There is a narrative going on and it’s to minimize the real reasons parents are pulling their students. It’s okay, and even necessary, for us to respectfully disagree and have these hard conversations so we can create change for our children.