The Problems with Pods

PeapodSome politicians want to put Beverly Hills school children into “pods”

BEVERLY HILLS, CA ( 2020/10/28 – Learning pods are a concept some parents have implemented who chose home schooling but do not do the effort themselves. Each pod has say six students with a tutor. A 6-student class with an all-day dedicated teacher.

Only a very wealthy school district can afford to consider such a plan. Beverly Hills is one of the richest in the world. The politician proposing pods says they will be safe because under his plan the pod students and tutors will be required to take COVID tests daily.

Administering daily medical tests to young children? Think it’s rough making them eat their vegetables? How tough will this be? What will be the effect on their outlook? Their willingness to be in class?

COVID tests cost $200 per person. That’s $1,400 per day in COVID tests per 6-student pod. BHUSD has 3,450 students. To cover all students would cost over $800,000 per day just in medical tests. To fund the tests for all 180 school days would be $145 million. A bit much even for Beverly Hills. The entire annual school budget normally is $80 million.

There is currently a nationwide teacher shortage. Teachers are retiring rather than being coerced to risk their lives and those of their families during COVID. BHUSD has 300 teachers.  To staff 6-student pods would double the number of teachers. Where would these teachers come from?

The BHUSD School Board and other candidates for the board have an adversarial management-versus-labor attitude toward teachers. Some candidates have recently boasted what great negotiators they are, that they will force teachers into a hard bargain. Apparently, they don’t realize teachers are quitting.

The Incumbent acknowledged during our debate that teachers are being underpaid, after he first tried to spin it by saying teachers had gotten raises three years in a row. That is one union contract with three incremental annual raises. However, still doesn’t meet cost of living in Beverly Hills.

Any new underpaid BHUSD teachers will be from outside Beverly Hills, will be a vector to spread COVID from other communities.

I’m the candidate who says teachers should be paid a living wage. The cost of living in Beverly Hills is $74,000. Teachers here receive a median income of a bit more than $69,000. Our teachers can’t afford to live in Beverly Hills.  BHUSD had $16 million it would cost to bring teacher salaries up to where they should be for the next five years. BHUSD did not spent it on teachers. The money was wasted by BHUSD launching frivolous lawsuits that they lost and on lobbying in Washington.

What if somehow COVID tests were magically free and the children willing to take them? The pods plan has another flaw.

Asymptomatic pod children can take COVID home to their relatives before the test results give warning. What happens when yesterday’s test of someone’s child is positive? Anyone with a child in the pod will find their household in a 2-week quarantine. The tutor’s household too.

Who wants that?

Robin S. Rowe is running for BHUSD School Board in the November 2020 election.