The Journal Gazette
Monday, July 27, 2020 1:00 am

Think of the children

Uninterrupted development must remain paramount in any schooling option

Lorenzo Lopez

We have all experienced something most people in the past 100 years never thought would happen.

We've all now experienced shutdowns, record unemployment, political turmoil and a lot of other things I'm sure we would all rather have done without. Now that we are here, I'd like to voice concern about something I know a lot of people are talking about: the education of our future leaders and the importance of a proper education.

There are a lot of parents out there who will be opting for home schooling for the first time. I know many, many parents who are completely able to educate their children effectively. On the flip side, there are many concerned parents who will not be able to educate their children appropriately.

A lot of us learned how to do things correctly from our teachers, but to regurgitate this to our children isn't as easy as it sounds, especially for the younger crowd that is in a critical learning stage. These students need to learn their letter sounds properly, how to count. .. the list goes on.

Teachers have a tough job, but they are good at what they do. They can handle children on a level most parents are not able to do themselves. When children are put in an atmosphere that is unfamiliar (in a school or a youth group), they learn how to behave in that environment.

Teachers generally do a great job of mitigating disruptive behavior to maximize the learning environment. Parents don't have that luxury.

In my opinion, most children do not see their parents as a teacher. They're more seen as a provider and, if we're being honest with one another, most parents use technology to babysit.

I am strongly concerned that when this pandemic is behind us, we are going to find many students intellectually behind compared to where they should be. This is going to hurt our education system in many ways.

First off, teachers are going to have double duty reeducating students who are behind, and you're going to have students who will be stalled because their peers are being caught up. Teachers are going to have to find a way to engage with those students, too.

It's a losing scenario for teachers.

My main concern is, if we are able to open schools this fall successfully, how are we going to keep them open? Many parents do not realize that, even with the regular flu, schools can be shut down if the population reaches a certain percentage of infection.

Now that we have COVID-19, this opens up a new window for closing schools with even stricter rules. Parents need to keep their students home if they're sick. The problem is, some parents financially cannot do this. This hopefully will open a conversation with employers about supporting our workers.

If a single student is sick, a parent should feel they are able to keep their children home without being reprimanded at work. Many places of employment already afford their employees sick time and vacation time, but the lines are blurry when it comes to their own children. I'd like to see open communication from employers regarding policies surrounding this.

If an entire school shuts down because a single parent cannot keep a child home, then the whole school population suffers. I know we do not want a repeat of March through June. This hurt businesses large and small.

This is a complicated problem, and there is not a single solution. Regardless of your beliefs, the education of the future leaders of America is important. If you support keeping schools open, please try to do your part to keep them open. If you do not support keeping schools open, please responsibly educate your child.

We need to raise a generation with the ability to prosper. This is less about “celebrating” our children and their achievements and more about making sure they are able to be celebrated at some point because they had the education necessary to prosper and succeed.

Lorenzo Lopez, a Winona Lake resident, has worked with public, private and charter schools and is board president for his daughter's school.

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