Commentary: Children are the future, and they deserve a future

By Peter E. Carter

“I believe the children are our future, Teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside…” and so begins a song written by Linda Creed and Michael Masser entitled “Greatest Love of All.”

What about the children in this time of coronavirus and the dreaded COVID-19?

They are at home with their parents and guardians and protectors. Those fortunate enough to have access to laptops, tablets, and the internet are receiving instruction from teachers and other educational platforms. We applaud the work these professionals in our local school districts are doing under the leadership of talented curriculum specialists.

Simultaneously we applaud the parents working to keep their children on task and on screen during the instructional hours. However, I suspect that no more than a percentage of parents are able to both keep their children on task and on target.

And what about that portion of the population without the necessary hardware for distance learning? Or those who do have the skills to keep children on task? Imagine a family with three school-aged children about two years apart in age! Ouch is one four letter word for it.

Here we are, more than two months into no school, appreciating our teachers and paraprofessionals more than ever, as well as the lunch ladies and maybe even administrators. Yet we may have arrived at a crossroad, given some anxiety about returning to work, school, and/or church. Pupils in all grades have lost quite a bit of academic instructional time. Our educational leaders have to devise a method wherein the time lost can be found, and they can as they are some very talented people.

Schools cannot reopen until we can guarantee the students and staff are safe from contracting COVID-19 (or God forbid, COVID-20). So imagine a scenario where school restarts in September – a sad reality in that many students may be deprived of the usual end of the year academic and social events, not to mention graduation. But that is an event which, if not held live, we can preserve with some technical and administrative creativity.

Creativity will need to be summoned in the fall to fill gaps which develop as a result of not being in school. Once again, the talent is there in our teachers to pick up where they left off, or where the previous teacher left off, and what to skip in the normal curriculum for the new grade. However, this is not for me, an extremely retired educator, to suggest so allow me to return to the children.

They have been hurt by a situation over which we have little control. They miss their classmates, their friends, their teachers, the school bus ride, the greeting from the principal upon arriving at school, and the custodian who keeps the building clean and healthy. We need to have children back in school eventually, not to relieve the stress on the parents, although that is an important consideration, but also to give the children back to one another and their teachers.

Children are our future and so much more, and they seem to have been somewhat neglected in the current conversations, Rose Garden press conferences, demonstrations, and signs along the road.

They have no seat in the General Assembly, no vote in the board room, no key to the executive suite; but they do have feelings, lots of feelings. Perhaps we could pause a second and listen or feel with them.

Back to the song lyrics: Let us “give them a sense of pride to make it easier” and “let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.”

Peter E. Carter is a retired private and public school administrator who lives in Lewes.