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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: The Orange County Public School Board tries to decide how to reopen schools

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Image: The Orange County School Board meeting on Tuesday - SCREENSHOT VIA ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS/YOUTUBE, Orlando weekly.com

The Orange County Public School Board met this week to decide how to reopen schools, but after nine hours of passionate commentary, they were not able to come to a decision. Similarly contentious meetings are happening across the country as we attempt to agree on not the best, but the least bad option for America’s schoolkids.

Massively complicating these decisions is an unspoken reality: Our public schools function not just as education centers, but as the only form of subsidized childcare the U.S. sees fit to provide working parents.

Some 26 million full-time workers have a child at home. Whether it’s two parents who both work full time or a single working parent, someone has to take care of the kids, which is in itself a full-time job. If it’s working parents instead of public school teachers and staff, productivity goes down. Some parents chose their kids over their jobs, scraping by on federal emergency benefits, but those expire in two weeks.

That’s another ugly unspoken reality: A major motivation behind the pressure to reopen is economic, not educational.

There are good reasons to reopen schools as soon as possible, but greasing the wheels of commerce by forcing parents back to work isn’t one of them.

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