The school reopening cause is getting noticed at the Chicago Tribune.
Today’s John Kass column, “Teachers unions meet their match as parents say, ‘Open our schools’,” profiles activist parents, including both yours truly and Shannon Adcock of Naperville, whether they’re holding a rally on Saturday. Just as I am (watch this space), Kass is suspicious of school district reopenings that coincide with local elections, however clever a rationale there may be.
Here are excerpts from my interview with Kass:
Elizabeth Bauer is a writer for Forbes and a suburban mom running for the District 214 board in the northwest suburbs. The district includes John Hersey High School and schools in Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Rolling Meadows and Wheeling. Bauer knows how to read a budget. She’s well-known on Twitter as @JanetheActuary. I respect her. . . .
Why are you running for the District 214 school board?
“I suppose this is a test, in my own small way, to determine if Illinois is broken at all levels,” Bauer said. “I guess we’ll find out.”
Separately, last Saturday, the Tribune published an op-ed that I wrote, “Want to reopen schools and hold them accountable? Run for office” (I can’t take credit for that truly satisfying headline). It was not, to be clear, an article pitching my own candidacy but merely using that as an example, among several others, of parents organizing when they had previously taken school boards for granted. I wrote,
Having seen so many active parents, I wondered: Could this be a resurgence of community activism? Could, indeed, the path toward renewed civic involvement in Illinois lie outside party politics entirely?
Alas, it appears not to be the case. At least with respect to suburban Cook County, according to my counts from the county clerk’s website, there are actually fewer candidates running for school board in 2021 than in 2017.
(Yes, I did the research. Space constraints prevented me from also mentioning that there were exactly as many “competitive” districts, with more candidates than seats, than in 2017, and this was only half the total races.)
The third item is older, dating from August, mere days after both Chicago Public Schools and District 214 announced its plan to move to remote: “Actually, the school-closers aren’t listening to science.” In this op-ed at the Tribune, I marshalled the available evidence, as cited by Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady even as she announced the closings:
“We looked at any cases associated with camps, with day cares, with child cares, with settings that brought children together, and although we’ve had many individual cases reported — the great majority in adults, as would be expected — we have not seen significant spread in those settings.”
I cited further acknowledgements that summer sports camps had not caused spread but only players’ unsanctioned parties and I wrote,
In other words, if instead of school, kids gather in less safe settings, the benefit of closing schools is lost.
And the evidence that school is safe has only grown since then.
Which means, dear supporters, that I strongly encourage you to share this post and/or these Tribune articles with your family, friends, neighbors, and community members, especially those who may have been spooked by claims that activist parents are just ignorant rabble-rousers. (Would the Tribune publish the writing of an ignorant rabble-rouser?) I believe that data should guide decision-making, and that the data supports school reopening, and has supported it from the start.