Speaking Friday at the Brownwood Country Club, Brownwood school superintendnet Joe Young brought up several topics including COVID.
"You know about COVID. We have a 27-page plan if you’d like to read that," Young said, drawing laughter.
"We’ve had beginning-of-the-year assessments to see where our students are. Summer slide —that’s a real thing. COVID slide is also a real thing and both those things have happened since we last met."
While 82 percent of Brownwood students have chosen the classroom over distance learning, the district is making the new school year’s version of distance learning better than it was in the spring, Young said.
"This is not the remote learning that happened in the spring," Young said. "That was poor. But at the same time that was an emergency pandemic crisis and we made it through, we did the best we could. We’re putting more effort into it. It’s a more structured online system. It’s a lot more rigorous. Kids are not going to have the severe gap if they have to go remote learning."
Young said people in the community sometimes ask what they can do to help the school district.
"Sometimes I say ‘just give us your support,’" Young said. ‘That’s probably the biggest thing you can do.’"
Young asked, "what does support really mean?"
To illustrate support, Young told the story of 19th Century daredevil Charles Blondin, who walked across Niagara Falls numerous times on a tightrope, once pushing a wheelbarrow.
Taking some dramatic license, Young said he imagines Blondin and his managing coming up with a plan.
"I envision like a 27-page plan … they look at the type of rope, what kind of shoes, what’s he going to wear, what kind of pole, all the stuff you would need to walk across there," Young said.
Continuing his dramatic license, Young said there were people who believed Blondin could complete the walk and others who believed he’d fall to his death. Some gave a "golf clap," and still others did "nothing," Young said. "Silence. Some of them want it to work, some of them don’t want it to work, but what they don’t want is to be involved. They just want to sit over here and watch this whole thing unfold."
When spectators affirmed their belief that Blondin could push a wheelbarrow across the tightrope, Blondin asked someone to get in. No one did, Young said.
"And I think that as a school system that’s what we need," Young said. "Because there’s people in the community that are silent. There’s people in the community who are going ‘you can’t open schools. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.’
"Some are behind it and say ‘it’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be smooth, it’s going to be hard. You might have to change shoes on the other side, you might have to change the rope in the middle but we’re going to support you."
Young said he and his fellow superintendents "need you to get in this wheelbarrow with us and say ‘It may go down. But I believe in it and I believe in the purpose. And we’ll all go down together, and then we’ll regroup and we’ll try it again.’"