The two Democratic aspirants for School Board appear to be trying to thread a needle – appealing on the one hand to parents who want their children back in class five days a week, and on the other to those who have qualms about doing so.
Mary Kadera said getting students back safely was an “immediate and urgent challenge,” and has suggested ways to configure classroom space to make it happen.
Miranda Turner, who is facing off against Kadera in the May Democratic caucus, singled out returning to school as “the biggest issue we are facing.” She has been active in the return-to-class movement for months.
Since shuttering classrooms in March 2020 as the pandemic moved in, Arlington school leaders – elected and top staff – seem to have been overwhelmed by the decisions required to safely reopen classrooms, while other school systems are moving forward with slightly less trepidation.
(Turner noted in a recent forum that 50 percent of the nation’s schoolchildren are now back in class five days a week, but Arlington leaders are making do with two days a week, maximum, for most students.)
The result has been predictable: Parents who have had the resources to either send their students to private schools (most of which are offering more robust in-person offerings) or to pay for enrichment programs are doing so, while parents without those means have largely been left to fend for themselves.
That has proved something of an embarrassment to the all-Democratic School Board, whose members like to use the word “equity” but whose policies appear to have widened disparity in educational outcome among socio-economic groups in the county.
Kadera and Turner each have children in the public-school system; one of Turner’s daughters transferred from Drew Elementary School to an in-person parochial school during the school year because she was not faring well
under the school system’s “virtual” approach to learning, her mother said.
The School Board seat being sought by Kadera and Turner became open when incumbent Monique O’Grady opted not to seek a second term.
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