By John Klar
A Vermont school district has been mulling over a novel policy to give its teachers Wednesday afternoon off, to alleviate their COVID stress — extending a “Snowsports Program” for the remainder of the school year. Impacts on parents and children have been swept aside despite clear conflicts of interest.
In a November 17, 2021 meeting of the Arlington, Vermont School Board, advocates for this proposal extolled the struggles of teachers during COVID-19 [30:28]. School superintendent Bill Bazyk went to bat for teachers (30:38):
We are very concerned as a group about our teachers. Nobody planned on this. … But we are nervous. I’m not sure how much longer they can take it, but they are doing a great job so one of the things that we are wanting to ask the Board … is to extend our JISP days for the whole year this year. … We need to give them some wellness days, we need to give them some time to themselves, and you know, catch up. We’re not proposing this lightly, we know that it will be difficult for parents but what I would say to parents who ask is, you know, we all have our jobs, we all need breaks. We can’t just work these teachers to the bone where they’re not going to be able to perform and we’re going to get higher absenteeism.
(JISP refers to the existing “Junior Instructional Snowsports Program”).
When asked whether the proposal had been discussed with the affected teachers, Bill Bazyk (35:31) counters, “I can’t imagine any staff saying no to this.” One woman then reports (36:45) that the elementary school teachers enjoyed their kids-free JIST afternoons, reporting “how much fresher and revived they felt teaching, and how much more energy they had. … Many of them asked, is there any chance we could do this all year?”
A thoughtful voice (37:24) hazards “a little bit of concern just about what it would do to working families” because “child care is so difficult to get right now.” Bazyk quickly dismisses such concerns, declaring that “we are asking parents to sacrifice.”
There is no thought of reducing teacher pay in concert with reduced school hours: children would lose 10% of their total in-school time, and some parents would have to leave them unattended, leave work, or hire care providers. Teachers and staff would not incur a penny of expense — no sacrifice. Perhaps teachers should just be paid a 10% bonus instead so children won’t be deprived of learning and put at risk.
Does this School Board perceive how inequitable its proposal is? Many tax-paying parents work very long hours under COVID stressors, and they lack the ability to give themselves a “break.” Teachers bristle when ribbed that they get the middle of the year (“summer vacation”) off from work – now they need a middle-of-the-week break as well? This is not about teachers, who have indeed endured great challenges, but about a school board that presumptuously ignores the hardships (“sacrifices”) of students and their families.
Is the proposal fair to children, who are to be left alone? An apologist flippantly outlines (at 42:00) the solution:
Sixth grade, maybe, but seventh through twelfth definitely, students are more apt to stay home alone. Definitely eighth through twelfth. And there may be some opportunities for some of our older kids to provide care to younger kids as well during that time.
The parents aren’t represented here. Parents have been similarly gaslighted, or simply ignored, in Vermont schools regarding Critical Race Theory, transgender indoctrination, sex education, obscene materials, mask and vaccine mandates for young children, and free school lunches for millionaires. Any objection to the ideological indoctrination process is verboten — why then would parents be consulted about School-Skipping Hump Day?
Shall all Vermont school staff have Wednesday afternoons off for the year at taxpayer expense? Since school taxes are levied and disbursed at the state level, Mr. Bazyk is proposing to extend benefits very in-equitably. What of private schools? There is no question that COVID has challenged teachers — it has challenged everyone. But shall doctors and nurses get Wednesdays off? Their patients just need to sacrifice!
Ironically, someone quips (at 52:15) that no one will even watch the meeting video: “You mean our huge viewing audience? … It’s riveting.” [Laughter.]
This is a growing domestic threat in America — a government that acts with impunity, unilaterally controlling other people’s lives despite clear conflicts of interest; gaslighting or suppressing dissenters. And this is in schools.
America’s children are being groomed for serfdom. Maybe school budgets should be pared back 10% instead of children’s educations, instead of defunding police. Better yet, cutting children’s public-school time back 100% would be best. This would alleviate stress for teachers and parents alike and end the ideological indoctrination of America’s children.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. This commentary originally appeared at American Thinker.