Depriving kids of an education


Since the pandemic started the world has been upside down. People are out of work, businesses have shut down, tourism doesn’t exist, and kids are not in school. Some countries are handling it better than others. Here in the CNMI, in my opinion, they have done a great job up until this point. We have been deemed the safest place in America. Good job, CNMI, for following the protocols and keeping the islands safe!

With the recent discovery of a community case, the government is rolling back to the restrictions that were implemented earlier except they don’t make sense. What I mean by that is that the government is permitting social gatherings on Managaha but not the public beaches on Saipan. Bars and restaurants can open (50% capacity) but you can’t have a beer at the beach. Gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted yet churches are permitted to open at 50% capacity allowing for more than 10 people at one gathering. The government is permitting Public School System students with special needs to learn face to face but private school students are not permitted to learn face to face even though the schools have been inspected and approved to open by the Department of Public Works and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force.

If it is safe enough to gather in churches (at 50% capacity), then it is safe enough for kids to go to schools (at 50% capacity). If it is safe enough to gather in bars and restaurants (at 50% capacity), then it is safe enough for kids to go to schools. If it is safe enough for kids with special needs to go to public schools, then it is safe enough for private school kids to go to schools. If parents have the right to make the decision to bring their kids to church, or a restaurant or send their kid with special needs to the public school campus, then parents should have the same right to send their kids to private school.

By closing the private schools, the government is simply denying parents the right to choose what kind of education (approved by the CNMI Board of Education) their child receives and denying certain kids a basic education. What if I was Amish and my belief was to not use modern technology or not to remove face to face conversations whenever possible? Would my child be permitted to go to school? Or would my rights be restricted because of my beliefs? The simple fact that the government is permitting certain students to go to school and not others goes against the fundamental right to choose in a free society.

The directive came out on Friday to be implemented today. It seems a little suspicious that if the restrictions (curfew after 9pm) are being implemented for health and safety reasons, then why wait until today? I may be be wrong but I think the GOP convention is this weekend. Coincidence? Maybe the directive is being implemented again in order to keep the pigs at the federal trough? If you don’t have any COVID-19 cases, it is probably much harder to get federal dollars to keep this banana republic government funded! All this at the cost of the kids’ education!

Glenn Smith
Capital Hill, Saipan

Glenn Smith

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