The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

A Lost School Year

Jun 21, 2021

This pandemic school year has been an unmitigated disaster.

Even for the most prepared high school students, five hours or more on the internet every day was an exercise in frustration. For those already behind, without reliable internet access, good computers, a quiet place to work, and someone to help, it was much worse.

And forget about elementary school. How many five-year-olds did not learn to read or do basic arithmetic, as they would have in a normal year?

For many students this year was also a total loss for their personal development. Cooped up in the house, away from friends and social contact, students suffered from record levels of depression and anxiety.

All that is not even to mention the stress this school year put on parents. How many mothers left the workforce to watch their kids? How many more couldn’t afford to, and watched their kids fall further and further behind?

It’s an understatement to say that the end of the school year comes as a relief. But what does this society offer moving forward?

Authorities crow that schools will be fully open, come fall—except nothing has been done to address all the problems that were already there, let alone the losses suffered during this pandemic year.

Just like the pandemic has used up a generation of hospital workers, it has used up a generation of educators. The superintendents of schools in Chicago, L.A., and New York are all leaving. State after state faces a teacher shortage. According to one poll, more than half of all teachers now say they’re considering leaving the profession within two years, compared to 34% in 2019.

Working class schools were already underfunded, short of teachers and staff, in run-down buildings, lacking in extracurricular activities. And now their students are even further behind the rich, who hired private tutors, or sent their kids to private schools that could stay open by spending the necessary money.

Workers do not have to accept this future for our children. We have created more than enough wealth to give our children what the rich get today—small class sizes, all kinds of art, music, languages, sports and other programs, individual attention when they need it. But to get that, we will have to make a determined fight against the capitalist system that discards our children.