March 14th School Levy: A Common Sense Approach
By Bob Shillingstad for Citizens for Common Sense Education
It is amazing to us that we are considering a $25 million dollar levy for the Coeur d’Alene School District in a vacuum with no context of what has transpired over the last three years. We are nearing the anniversary of the Covid-19 panic and in hindsight one of the worst mistakes made by leaders in our country and around the world. It did, however, open the eyes of parents and the citizenry about local government operations and in particular schools and curriculum. The two weeks to flatten the curve evolved into totalitarian rules that made no sense. The more we learned about the virus and effects we realized that the country was on the wrong course.
We learned that the virus affected an older population and in fact the average age of death nationally is over the age of 80. Young people under the age of 30 were neither vectors to spread the disease nor victims. Sweden never closed schools and major studies that spring showed our rules were not based on science. Denmark did one of the largest studies on masks and found that they had no effect on spread. The UK did another major study on children transmitting the virus to teachers and vice versa, going to see grandma was not a risk. They could not find one example where that happened. We discovered that students were more at risk riding the school bus than they were from the virus.
When parents presented this information to the CDA school district they were humiliated and turned away. The district abandoned traditional teaching and school schedules in favor of “Zoom” calls and mandatory masking and occasional lockdowns period, no discussion. No sports or extra-curricular activity. The district lost 10% of their enrollment that school year of 2020-21. The results nationally are beyond ghastly: half of US school kids are a year behind and 230,000 seem to have gone missing from the rolls across the nation. Where’s the accountability? What happened to the kids? They stayed at home and parents left work to oversee them. They pretended to learn as they were able but enrollment in the school system collapsed by 1.2 million nationwide. Some 26 percent declared themselves to be homeschooled. Private-school enrollment also grew by 4 percent, though it was limited by capacity restrictions, shortages of offerings, and the sheer expense (not everyone can afford to pay both taxes and tuition for school).
The CDA district has not recovered and in fact lost another 200 students this year compared to the year before. You might be saying that this criticism is too harsh and all districts followed suit but that is not true. The Lakeland District in Kootenai County looked at the “science” and concluded that for the 2020-21 school year it would be school as usual and masks were voluntary but no mandatory masks or Zoom calls. What happened? Nothing. However, when they reevaluated their year, they dropped “contact tracing” as a waste of time and began the 2021-22 school year by going back to basics: “If you are sick, stay home.” Worked well in the past and going forward.
Funding for schools is allocated by enrollment numbers. If the students aren’t there, the funding dries up. This is creating a genuine crisis for schools around the country, as well as the Coeur d’Alene District. What is amazing through all of this is that there is no self-awareness or shame in the policies that the district enacted. They are unashamedly coming to the voters for $25 million of more money, some in perpetuity. On top of all the chutzpah they have demonstrated they threaten the parents and taxpayers by saying that if you don’t give us the money there might not be any more sports or music programs!
We are facing a combined force of the educational establishment. School boards, administrators, the Idaho School Board Association and the Idaho Education Association (teacher’s union) that are fighting parents and their voices. The Idaho Attorney General has taken on the School Board Association and their recommendation on a model transgender policy. The CDA district adopted a very similar policy back in 2014, quietly and without comment. If you read the labor agreement that the CDA school district has with the teacher’s union you also see a close working relationship. The local union president “shall be released the equivalency of two days per week to conduct CEA (union) business.” So much for teachers in the classroom and most taxpayers don’t realize we are subsidizing the local union!
As citizens we are not against the public/government funded schools, in fact we are encouraging the passage of the Lakeland District levy. They have acted with common sense and been transparent in their communications and answering questions. We cannot say the same for the Coeur d’Alene district and recommend that the voters vote NO on March 14th.