Call Education a Practice of Religion then the Supreme Court will force schools to open.
Okay I admit my headline exaggerates the situation somewhat, but perhaps less than we imagine.
I believe the Supreme Court decision overriding public health rules in the interest of religious practice will rank as one of the least informed, ignorant and dangerous Supreme Court rulings.
However, let’s make some lemonade from this lemon.
If we make Education an article of faith then the Supreme Court should have our backs when we insist that we reopen schools and follow CDC Guidelines for the pandemic.
Running our schools in compliance with CDC Guidelines for the pandemic will have an extraordinarily positive effect on Education. We will have to fund Education more robustly, but if we consider Education akin to a religious practice then the Constitution will force us to do it.
I must make a slight digression to set up this argument.
One can make a parallel argument of Education as a religious practice for Judaism, perhaps even more easily, as one can for Roman Catholicism, but I will use Roman Catholicism to demonstrate this argument because the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel, an Orthodox Jewish congregation, challenged the New York restrictions on the size of religious gatherings during times of severe outbreak in the pandemic.
New York State has a very robust parochial school system run by the Roman Catholic Church. This parochial school system that parallels the public school system was a response to virulent anti-Catholic prejudice of the then largely Protestant society, and teaching in the public school that demonized the Roman Catholic Church.
So here we have an education system run by a religious organization already in place, and it is an extensive system too.
If the Catholic hierarchy declares that the faithful as a religious duty must send their children to school, and the State requires that continued state funding of the parochial depends on adherence to CDC Guidelines for masking, social distancing, hand washing then we could have some remarkably positive unintended consequences from that. Unintended consequences are not always bad, and can be positive side-effects of a course of action.
Following CDC guidelines may prove impossible for what were normal size classes in the past.
Therefore they could reduce the number of students in a class, and have children attend school every other day, or at whatever interval in required. For example, classes might decrease in size from 30 students in a class to 10 students in a class, and consequently a given student will have three weeks between successive classes on a given topic.
The school year will be two-thirds longer, and that is a bit of a challenge
However, imagine the school runs continuously all year, but at a lower intensity because of smaller class sizes which means teachers can give more attention and time per student.
We might even be able to do what I have wanted ever since I was in school as a student, and then when I was a parent of school age children.
Start the school day later in the morning. Maybe as late as 10 AM until 4 PM, rather than 7:30 AM to 2:30 PM.
Reopen parochial schools with smaller class sizes to adhere to CDC Guidelines.
A longer school year that has schools running for the full calendar year, in effect continuously.
Shift the school day to start later, but keep the same number of hours in the school day; therefore, the school day ends.
We should declare that the Almighty sent this pandemic to create the circumstances that will help us create a more just, orderly and reverent society.
The pandemic has shown with greater clarity the flaws in our society and what we need to do to fix it
A society with a more fair distribution of wealth unlike our present society in which the pandemic has actually increased the wealth of the rich while destroying the financial conditions of those less well to do.
A society with a more robust, lower cost healthcare system which reaches more of the population. Fund universal healthcare by diverting funds from the unjust enrichment of the wealthy elite.
Furthermore, we have an oversupply of hotels and mass unemployment of hospitality workers. Notice that “hospital” is within the word “hospitality” and you will see where I am headed.
Convalescent care could be provided in existing and now empty hotels, and the currently unemployed hotel staff re-employed by the newly (re-opened) hotel for convalescent care.
Spending more resources on convalescent homes for the aged would reduce those homes as the source of pandemic hot spots.
All of this because we believe that the Almighty, or the Pantheon to stay ecumenical, has decreed that we must worship the Almighty by going to school, by repairing the vast social and economic inequalities in our society.
We give thanks to the Supreme Court for clearing the way, giving us the freedom to practice our religion of a better-educated, healthier society with greater financial means to pursue their talents. The God(s) have decreed that we practice our religion to these ends.
Anybody know someone who goes to a parochial school who would be willing to be a test case?