The Spark

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

Schooling in COVID:
A Capitalist Nightmare

Sep 14, 2020

Working class parents are struggling through the nightmare of this school year under the shadow of COVID-19, trying both to keep their children safe and to get them some kind of an education in a system that makes it impossible to do either. Struggling to juggle their jobs with a school schedule of half-days, or completely at-home, online school. Struggling to get computers set up, working and staying connected. Struggling to keep crying kids in front of computers that are messing up most of the time.

What does this have to do with learning?!

It’s absolutely necessary to bring ALL kids back into physical schools, with their teacher and peers. It’s necessary socially and developmentally to have that contact.

In a system that truly valued its children, the floodgates of money and resources would have opened months ago, with a massive public works campaign to hire teachers, build and renovate schools, hire nurses, test and screen and safely distance students on a daily basis.

So what happened? Elected officials didn’t even try. They settled for replacing live classes with computers.

Why are we in this mess? What is the real question here? MONEY! And lots of it.

We know that it is possible to get kids back to school, because we see wealthier schools doing what is necessary to make it possible. With resources, wealthier school districts have been able to institute much more comprehensive social distancing, with eight to twelve students spaced six feet apart in a classroom, while testing, screening and cleaning regularly.

But no help is coming from the federal government. No money, no plans, nothing. Next to nothing came from the states. In Michigan, for example, at the tail end of the summer, the legislature coughed up 580 million dollars in added aid to the schools to cover everything—online teaching and technology expansions, in-person schooling, any new facility renovations or changes, and teacher pay.

There are 1.5 million students in Michigan. This amount, then, averages out to an extra 387 dollars per student! What the heck are the schools supposed to do with that?!

Students, parents and teachers, in other words, are being left to fend for themselves in the face of a major health emergency AND the economic depression that it has brought on.

The huge inequalities that have existed in this society, and are already present within the country’s school systems, are magnified many times in this crisis. Working class and poor districts, which already were struggling with far fewer resources than they need, are being destroyed.

Poorer, working class districts are much more likely to have 20 students in a classroom—if they’re lucky—than eight to twelve, and don’t have resources to test or clean nearly so thoroughly. Is it any wonder that the wealthy Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield has 75% of its students reporting for in-person school, while only 20% of Detroit students feel comfortable doing so?

We know damn well the money exists to fix these problems. After all, the Democrats and Republicans found three TRILLION dollars to bail out banks and corporations and shore up the stock market!

These politicians are showing us through their actions that they are ready to dismantle the school systems, to consign a whole generation to illiteracy, in order to protect those profits.

Those politicians don’t do what’s necessary to address this major imperative to educate and socialize a generation of kids, and they never will. They don’t represent us. They represent the rich, and their system.

A system that throws away the next generation to protect the profits of a few has proven that it has long outlived any usefulness it might have once had.