American Students and Teachers Have Been Failed Throughout the Pandemic. A Lesson in Neglect

The coronavirus pandemic has upended societies around the world for the past year. It has especially wreaked havoc on America for a myriad of reasons, that can either be explained through exact science and data or through theoretical analyses of American culture and behavior patterns.

And of all the facets of American life that has been most profoundly impacted by the pandemic, the educational landscape, specifically the K-12 education system, has been left in ruins, with more questions than answers about the immediate future for students affected.

For nearly a year American students have been the guinea pigs of failed experiments that began under the Trump administration’s incompetent Department of Education and filtered down to inconsistent plans on the state and local level.

School districts have vacillated back and forth between in-school learning and virtual learning amid growing numbers of virus cases. Early science that suggested children were far less susceptible to contracting COVID than adults, led to rushed reopenings and outbreaks in school populations.

American teachers have died as a result of contracting the virus from teaching amidst a public health crisis. Parents, students and teachers alike have struggled immensely in adapting to the virtual learning model. In general, American children have not-surprisingly bore the burden of indifference to America’s bottom line of capitalism and the restoration of the economy.

Persisting educational inequities have deepened. Cognitive development has slowed. America has proven itself to the kid in the back of the class, ill-prepared for the exam.

The New York Times reports that only half of the states in the country are prioritizing teacher vaccinations amid increased demand for a return to in-school learning. In certain states such as West Virginia, teachers must be 50 or older to be eligible for vaccination. The vaccination rollout plan is supposedly tiered to prioritize Americans that are most vulnerable to contracting the virus, so how does this not include educators in all 50 states?

And as with everything, students of color have been adversely impacted by the educational debacle of the pandemic. Social-emotional learning has been stalled due to an inability to congregate, or the inconsistency of learning together one day, and the next being back at home.

If the education of America’s children was the priority that politicians parrot it to be and if American educators are in essence, essential workers, then why in the hell aren’t all the provisions being offered to ensure they can safely and efficiently get kids back to school? Which seems like it would start by expediting their vaccination process so that they are at a lower risk of transmission in their classrooms.

Ultimately, I feel for the children of this nation who have been insufficiently considered during this history. I understand that early on public officials were feeling around in the dark about how to handle the educational crisis the pandemic brought on.

But we are coming upon a year, and between the education system, the healthcare industry and the federal government there should be more concrete plans on restoring some degree of normalcy to the education of grade-school children.

If certain regions would attack the schooling dilemma with the same vigor they are applying to figure out how to bring back indoor restaurant dining and sporting events, we could come up with better outcomes on behalf of citizens we profess are our future.

About the Author

Donney Rose is a poet, essayist, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, advocate, and Chief Content Editor at The North Star. He believes in telling how it is and how it should be

The North Star is a network of Black and Latinx journalists and creators that provide daily news stories and podcasts with action steps that help you get involved. We speak truth to power without fear because our stories, our voices and our lives matter. Please consider becoming a member and enjoy exclusive benefits of our ad-free platform for as little as $5 a month.