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Education officials plot COVID-19 tests while showing little concern for academic performance

Education officials plot COVID-19 tests while showing little concern for academic performance

Wayne Hoffman
August 23, 2021

If you have a youngster in Idaho’s government-run schools, now would be a good time to either start demanding answers from state and local education officials or reconsider your schooling options.

The latest in a long string of disappointments comes in the form of Gov. Brad Little’s decision to sidestep the Legislature and order $30 million for COVID-19 testing for the state’s public schools. 

Related: Just how did Little sidestep lawmakers to pay for COVID-19 testing in schools? We explain here.

What does this new testing program mean for you and your student? God only knows. As is typical for this administration since March 2020, the rules for screenings will be administered are unknown because they’re being made up as they go.

Will the testing be directed at both school staff and students or just one or the other? If students are to be tested, how often? Most importantly, will parents be given a chance to opt-in to the testing program, or will they be expected to opt-out if they’d prefer to not participate? How is the data collected by districts used and who will have access to it? Will the elected school boards be granted a say in the program? Will they be given a chance to reject the funding and the testing program? 

Such questions, with too few answers, come at a time when authoritarians are insisting that people who refuse the vaccine lose their freedoms. Some are arguing that vaccine skeptics be denied travel, jobs, shopping, healthcare, and so on. Idaho Education News last week ran a series of pro-vaccine commentaries, including several from the Boston Globe. One commentary argued that “states should allow teenagers to receive vaccines without parental consent, so that kids who want the shot can’t be stopped by anti-vax parents.”

If I had a student in Idaho's public schools, I’d take these propagandists at their word. They aim to do whatever they want to achieve their objectives, your rights be damned. It’s not just idle talk either. If schools have control of your kids, they will find a way to use such control as a means to leverage the results they want.

Commentaries that advocate complete obedience at the expense of individual autonomy are growing. Schools are ground zero, and it should be enough for you to want to get your kids and grandkids as far away from the government system as you can. 

Remember that the demand for vaccinating teenagers, surreptitious or otherwise, doesn’t match the data. Young people aren’t dying from COVID-19. The latest data for Idaho — consistent with findings in other states, the nation, and the world — shows this. For Idaho, only 172 youngsters have been hospitalized since this charade began. Not a single Idaho child has died from the virus. 

It’s also as mysterious as it is fascinating that Idaho government officials like Little are obsessing over the relatively few number of school-age cases when the bigger, more obvious problem in Idaho’s public schools is an ongoing epidemic of failure.  

Newly-released ISAT scores show, yet again, that the majority of school students aren’t doing well. After the release of academic performance numbers a few days ago, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra was quick to point fingers at the so-called pandemic, even though students have been failing on tests for many years, long before the escape of the virus from Communist China. As I wrote recently, the vast majority of students in some districts can’t read, write, or do math, contrary to protests from school officials.

Excuses are as plentiful as they are pathetic, and we’ve gotten our share of them for decades.

The government continues to prove it does not belong in the business of educating our kids, and government schools sure as hell don’t belong in the business of testing for viruses. 

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