The American Way

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It’s always hard getting back into the real world after a vacation. Especially a vacation where you don’t read the news, don’t watch TV, and truly disconnect. Even harder when you return to the real world we’re living in now.

We drove through rain to our vacation, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Henri followed us up the coast and had us in a hotel for two days as it pummeled the coast. But then we had so many days of beautiful weather. An extra day in fact, as the owner of our rental house felt bad about the storm and let us stay an additional night. But that additional night, it stormed again. We took the first ferry off the island to head home; good thing because the second one was canceled because of the storm.

We drove home through rain (hello Ida), and as we drove, all the magic of the vacation seemed to wash away.

This was a fucking hard week. Fires on one coast, floods on the other. In the middle, rights are being stripped of women as they sleep, guns are made as accessible as candy bars, knock-down-drag-out fights are happening at school board meetings as hospitals turn away patients because beds are full of COVID deniers on ventilators. And that’s just the tip of the melting iceberg.

I came home from vacation to bags from online retailers where I found my kid dress-code-appropriate but still cute clothes for her to wear back to school. Her last school didn't have a dress code and last year she attended her first year of middle school in sweatsuits and slippers. She has never entered the building of her middle school. She wondered if they would be assigned lockers with COVID. She really wants a locker.

I came home from vacation to catch up on what was going on at her school. We saw her schedule and she was thrilled to see she had accelerated math with the same wonderful teacher she had last year, and Russian with the same teacher she had since elementary school. OMG Chris has all her classes, OMG Jordan has some of her classes, OMG Katie has none of her classes. Will I see Katie at lunch?

Come to find out yes, she would see Katie at lunch. The new principal’s letter informed us that while precautions have been made to keep kids socially distant most of the day, lunch would be standard, an indoor cafeteria teeming with tweens and young teens, some vaccinated and some not, masks off as they eat square pizza and tater tots, laugh, scream, and play fight.

We didn’t apply for the online option for school this year. Back when we had to make the decision, we thought it wasn’t needed. We vaccinated our 12-year-old as soon as she was eligible, we had been vaccinated, as had been our closest relatives. After a year of virtual school, we felt she needed the social interaction, and we wanted to keep the spaces (only 700 for the entire county of 6th-12th graders) for those with serious situations that prevented the students from entering a school building.

But since then, we are living in a different world with different variants of the virus and differing views on it from some of our neighbors, relatives, and likely students and staff at her school. And to think of sending our child into that every day and pretending it’s okay… we couldn’t do it.

The virtual option is full and closed. So, we are homeschooling.

My husband and I are products of this same school system. Both of his parents and my mom were teachers in this same school system; my mom taught for over three decades at the middle and high school levels. We received world-class educations at innovative schools with talented teachers and staff.

My daughter has had an equally stellar education. She went to an award-winning elementary school where she learned Russian and many of her teachers had advanced degrees. Her principal earned her PhD while my daughter attended, and I loved how the whole school celebrated her achievement. Her middle school teachers impressed me last year. Even being on Zoom, they were so skilled and caring and my daughter thrived and learned so much.

In Prince George’s County schools, being a white student is being the minority. My daughter has only had a handful of white teachers over the years, all her principals and administrators have been people of color, and most of them women of color.

Prince George’s County, Maryland is the second-largest school system in Maryland and the 20th largest in the country with over 130,000 enrolled students and 22,000 employees. The student population is 55% Black, 35% Hispanic, and less than 3% white. Over 66% of the student population receives free or reduced meals, 10% receives Special Education, and over 20% are English language learners. (source)

Our county has no protocol to keep lunch socially distant likely because they don’t have the tax dollars of the wealthier counties that surround us to buy tents and additional staff to watch small groups. Schools can have the best teachers, the most innovative administration, but if they don’t have money, they can’t accomplish much.

It’s not that Prince George’s County doesn’t care, or that they are being swayed by angry white people at board meetings with masks on their chins. I believe they’re doing the best they can but they just don’t have the resources. It’s yet another example of systemic racism and how people of color are seen as expendable.

I don’t want to homeschool because I have always been of the thought that by attending the schools, I am supporting the school system. Being involved in the school, joining the PTA, donating supplies and time, having my tax dollars go to them. The only way schools can improve is by the community around them.

But after a summer of metaphorically hiding my head in the sand while we went to beaches and cabins and other “safe” vacations, I can’t send my only child back into a dangerous environment. But I can still fight for that school and its students who don’t have the privilege to homeschool or find another option.

It’s hard to fight when you’re so exhausted by this world. When you don’t even know what to do, and you don’t really have the bandwidth to even do it.

And so, that is why there is no Friday Shop post today, or any content other than the recap of what I wore to Fire Island. Though, I did hide in my work and have a big fall fashion post coming up after Labor Day. Sometimes work can be a really great distraction from the world being on fire. Keep plugging along, meeting those deadlines, achieving those quotas while the earth and its inhabitants die. It's the American way.

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  1. I am a retired teacher in the VERY red state of Missouri (ugh, love Missouri, fed up with the Republican politicians from it.) I work as a substitute teacher. Many districts are struggling to find subs and the state teacher retirement system has lifted limits for retirees subbing until the end of 2021 . I don’t sub in the school district in which I reside partly because I am unfamiliar with it (having recently moved) and partly because their Covid mask restrictions aren’t as strict as where I do sub. Students in their K-2 building eat in their classrooms with the teachers. However, once a week 2-3 classes get to eat in the lunchroom, socially distanced. They rotate so all the grade level sections get a turn. Funny how that little thing excites the kiddos, I kind of think the teachers are just as excited though, they get a break to eat in the teacher’s lounge!

  2. Hi everyone

    Alison, thanks for a very real post. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through and what we are all going through. I like your blog so much because of your voice, and because of the passionate, almost always polite and supportive commentary.

    Nadia Bolz-Weber, one of my favorite religious people, wrote a great commentary on the way we are feeling – “if you can’t take it anymore, there’s a reason.” She likens our modern-day world to an ancient circuit breaker that’s overwhelmed. And she ends the piece with a great suggestion – you can’t do everything, but you can do something. (Nadia Bolz-Weber, The Corners).

    Does anyone know anyone who had an illegal abortion? I do – my mother. It was 1953, and she was 21, got pregnant (because, hey no birth control), dropped out of college and became a Navy wife. The she got rubella (because, hey no vaccines). She wanted to end the pregnancy but couldn’t get a medical exemption, so she went to Mexico and almost died as a result. She was a passionate supporter of Planned Parenthood.

    I work in a hospital and every day have to dig deep for compassion for people who come in with COVID and are unvaccinated. We had one open bed yesterday. We have an 8 year old on a vent and babies in the NICU with COVID. I try to tell myself that their parents got lousy health information from Facebook, but it’s hard.

    So Alison, thank you again for all that you do. And on a totally unrelated note, I finally got a Dagne Dover backpack (used the link!) and it’s made my walking commute much easier.

    1. When I was in college in the mid-90s my mom told me that her maternal grandmother, my great grandmother, a Catholic and immigrant from Hungary died from an illegal abortion in 1927. She had FOUR children, ran a boarding house, and could not afford a fifth. She worked and the household depended on her income, so carrying the baby and giving it up for adoption was not an option. She died in her early 40s and I recently was able to see her birth certificate which confirms the cause of death. Women will not stop having abortions, but more will die as a result of limiting women’s access to these services. How is that pro-life? People making these laws have no idea about the incredible and irreconcilable and real decisions women have to make. If people passing these laws cared about fewer abortions they would be pro-childcare, pro-education, pro-birth control. My mom told me this when sharing how yes, she was a practicing Catholic but also supported a woman’s right to make personal decisions about her own damned body. I

  3. The pandemic and all the associated issues are just a small fraction of all we’ve been through and continue to navigate. The constant immersion in bad news is a drain on joy, hope, and peace. I’ve had to work harder than ever to employ every mental health coping mechanism I have to get through, find my center, and keep faith.

  4. The icebergs are indeed melting. I cannot imagine what it is like to be a parent and have to do the mental gymnastics of decision making about schooling in this Covid era. I would like to comment on some of the things keeping me awake at night.
    I will admit, I am registered Independent, I do not swear an oath of allegiance to either major political party. (Just setting the context for everyone)
    First, I would like to say that it is very nice to have a safe place to say the following…
    I am so angry with the current state of affairs in our country. Furious, really. FURIOUS with fellow Americans who play along with the current political theatrics. They are endangering all our lives.
    Furious with all the politicians that have somehow made Covid a political issue. Think about it: how is this logically, rationally possible? How can so-called educated people disregard scientific data?
    Furious that politicians who have made climate change political- how is that logically, rationally possible? Again, how about the data, the trends, the increasingly powerful storms and other extreme events?
    People criticizing the way a 20 year war ended: how does ANY war end? Is the end of any war a well orchestrated, no drama closure? Did we REALLY expect our departure from Afghanistan to be a bed of roses? Were Americans expecting a “farewell soirée” with champagne toasts and canapés?
    Texas. Voting rights- sure, let’s make it harder for everyone to vote because life is not complicated enough. Gun rights- absolutely, let’s allow everyone to openly carry weapons of mass human destruction. Oh, and while we are at it, let’s take away a woman’s right to control her medical choices. And, make those people who have new and improved access to guns, let’s allow them to be vigilante enforcers of the new abortion law. Great ideas, Texas.
    Florida. Let’s make sure we do nothing about encouraging vaccination, but hey! We have Regeneron, so it’s all good.
    Finally, just for fun, let’s have another Trump klan rally in DC on September 18 so we can bust all the January 6 heroes out of jail, show them our emotional support, and show off our favorite patriotic boy band, a the Proud Boys. (Seriously, can you believe this shit?)


    1. Suzanne, we have our granddaughters with us at least three days a week, and I wonder how we’re going to explain what’s happening here and now when they’re older. I always thought I was fairly conservative (in the old-fashioned sense), but as I’m in what’s probably the last third of my life, I’ve realized that I care passionately about what my generation’s legacy is, and I’ve run out of patience with people who want to condemn the girls I love to a life of second-class citizenry, with no right to live their lives in a way that enriches them. We Boomers are really screwing things up, and we seem to have NO compassion for anyone not White, male, 70-ish, and rich.

      My son pointed out that I’m more liberal than he remembers, and he has offered to post bail for his father and me if we get arrested for protesting. My granddaughters — everyone’s children — deserve better from us.

      I. Too. Am. More. PISSED. than I’ve ever been in my life!

    2. I’m the poster above with the great-grandmother who died from an illegal abortion. Can I just say I love your comments, and your last sentence reminds me of a postcard my mom kept on her dresser mirror? It said GOD IS COMING AND SHE IS PISSED. Thanks for the reminder of that- I miss my dear mama. And she would agree with you 100%.

  5. This was interesting to me to read, considering we’ve been back to ‘normal’ for a while now despite most of the Asian population still not being vaccinated (ironically it’s the expats here that usually are, so they have the freedom to travel) & social distancing being impossible in such a densely populated area. I got my vaccination months ago because I teach – whilst I’ve been having to teach online for 2 years now (due to the political unrest even before COVID), I’ve still been going in physically for meetings etc on & off for the past few months – because hey, staff are expendable, so long as we aren’t endangering the cash cow that is the ‘customer’ students, right? Lolol)

    That said, everyone here keeps as much distance as possible (no open sneezing), disinfects regularly (even our escalator handled & lift buttons are sanitised frequently), & wears masks (except for when eating & drinking). It still boggles my mind when I hear the news back home (UK) of the amount of people that just don’t wear masks or observe protocols, despite government mandate. I know there are legitimate medical reasons for some, but most of what I’m seeing (even from distant friends on Facebook etc) is folk trying to find a way to skirt regulations just because they’re tired of having to follow them.

    I get it. Wearing a mask sucks – especially whilst exercising out in the brutal subtropical humidity (here). But the irony is that, if we *DON’T* follow the rules, we will have to put up with this discomfort for an even LONGER (not shorter) amount of time! This has been the one thing that’s made me feel the most disconnected from my home country now – the idea that doing something that doesn’t directly benefit you but only those around you (wearing a mask) is not worth doing because there’s nothing in it for us. That’s not just the American way but the British way too now, it seems…

  6. Hey Allison,

    I feel like I should preface this with: longtime reader, first-time commenter.

    The common core math will get you. I had to do this — pre-Covid — for a different reason: bullying. And I pulled my child out of her school (5th grade) and homeschooled her for the rest of the year…and she excelled and probably did better than I could have anticipated. However, I hired a math tutor (which happened to be a teacher at her current school in the district we moved to) because common core math is like NOTHING we ever learned ourselves and confusing as hell. And you have to keep her on that course so she knows what’s going on when you re-enter her in school in the future. My husband is a college professor. I have a master’s degree. We still needed help.

    My two cents: we are all nervous, but schools are doing their best. I live in NY. You are on the outskirts of DC. Both of those places are probably the highest in protocol in the country. Worst case scenario: have lunch with your kid every day and keep her out of the lunchroom.

    After my kid had to be homeschooled for part of 5th, switch schools for 6th (only to have the world drop out mid-way) and be 100% remote for 7th, the first day of school today? She was ALIVE. All synopsizes clicked. Socialization is part of the equation. We cannot do that from home.

  7. America is actually a pretty great country, despite the difficult times we are all experiencing right now. Sorry to hear your annual beach vacation was rained out, but at least you weren’t falling off the back of a plane taking off out of Afghanistan because that country is about to start beheading people. From where I sit, you/we have it pretty great, actually.

    1. You might well think this, but you don’t have to write it. The idea that we should not feel bad about our circumstances and say so because someone else way across the planet, or even across the city, is worse off, is a total crock. Its the equivalent of forcing your kids to empty their plate because of the starving children somewhere else! Everyone’s circumstances are their own and their feelings about them are valid and not to be dismissed. You want to ride your high horse? Fine, but make it a solo ride in a big empty desert.

      1. I am not sure of your intent, but your comment seemed to show a lack of empathy and understanding of the issues Alison was bringing up. I am so appreciative of the many thoughtful responses others have given to her very honest post, but I was upset for Alison at the tone and “whataboutism” of yours. We don’t all have to agree in our responses, but empathy and kindness never go out of style.

    2. I don’t understand how your takeaway from this post was that Allison was upset about her beach vacation being rained out.

    3. I get that you’re trying to be positive, but think about it this way: if a loved one — your parent, your child, your best friend — died, would you *immediately* pivot to: “Well, at least only one of them died. Some people lose multiple people they love on a plane crash or war.” Maybe in time, you will recognize that you do have so many other people in your life that you care about, and that in the grand scheme of things, you are lucky — but in the immediate aftermath of your personal devastation, you would be rightly subsumed by grief.

      It may seem to you that you are being wise but what you’re doing seems so facile to me. It is okay to experience emotion in response to a terrible time without immediately saying, “Well, worse things in the world have happened, so I can’t talk about it or acknowledge it as painful.”

      Further, you seized the smallest concern of this post (a thwarted vacation) to make your point, which on top of everything else is deliberately obtuse.

  8. I’m so sorry, Alison, and thanks for honestly sharing what so many of us are feeling. The TX Supreme Court decision has kicked off some kind of PTSD sending me mentally back to the lowest points of the pandemic/prior administration. I too have been burying myself in work.
    Many school districts have a pretty tight relationship between homeschoolers and the schools. Perhaps there is some way your daughter could attend one class or get lessons from her beloved teachers? With so much in flux, maybe virtual school will even open up again.
    The past 15 months have been a lesson in accepting uncertainty, for sure. Anyway…just want to say don’t ever beat yourself up about not posting enough, etc. Your family comes first and the “family” of fans you’ve created on this blog will always understand. Sending a virtual hug…

    1. Our schools are doing similar at lunch for MS and HS, we are also in a high-poverty, urban district, about 70% students of the global majority and 30% white. However, in our climate eating outside is always part of the equation–but not enough indoor seating has been a problem with smoke prior to covid. In theory, CARES funds could be used for a different lunch set up, but even if the funds weren’t being allocated differently, it’s tough to find workers for 1-2 hours a day. Anyhow, I can see how that part of the day could be so worrisome, though for me I choose to accept the risk just as I accept the risk of driving on the freeway to one child’s school. The fact that distance learning worked so poorly, academically and social-emotionally, for my kids makes it an easier decision I think. To do home school well, as several friends have done for years prior to covid, takes a certain point of adult time commitment so it is great you both have work you can do that with! Another reason to celebrate you having left your corporate job!

  9. You are doing the right thing for your family, and you will all be better off for it.
    Our youngest just started high school. There wasn’t a virtual option this year, and he missed school and friends. He’s vaccinated and lunch was outside, I felt okay about it.
    He just had to have his first covid test, he has symptoms, hoping it’s just a cold but really don’t know.

    Daughter starts college in Seattle later this month, and 3 of her 4 classes have now switched to virtual. She is very nervous about being stranded in a dorm with roommates to do virtual learning.

  10. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I see my niece and nephew struggling with the same issues and I know I’m really fortunate that my son was through college before COVID hit. It’s a major load I am relieved of.

    Is there any way your daughter can be isolated during the lunch hour? I know–the school doesn’t have the resources to set up a more isolated lunch situation, and it sees big, bad liability if it lets a child go off and eat by herself. I take it the days are gone when we could walk home for lunch! But are you finding other parents having the same issue/worry? There can be strength in numbers.

    Your daughter is very bright, as are you and your husband, so I am confident you can survive homeschooling and Emerson’s academic development will not suffer. But it is a strain on all of you, and I hope she’ll have some opportunities for socializing outside of school. I wish you well and I hope that somewhere, there is a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel we are in.

  11. I’m finding it really hard to believe in the goodness of my fellow human beings right now. My children are grown — and vaccinated because they believe in science — but my grandchildren aren’t eligible for vaccines yet. The younger one is in daycare, which for the last 18 months has done a damn near miraculous job of teaching the kids while never once needing to shut down for Covid related reasons. The older one started first grade on Wednesday, and our school district is letting parents choose whether or not they want their children to wear masks. Because peer pressure doesn’t exist, and kids always do the right thing because of their innate ability to analyze complex situations to reach the best resolution for problems that the adults in their lives struggle with.

    Our house is for sale, and because we have the best luck in the world when it comes to real estate, some bozo pulled into our driveway in the dead of night, attempted a three-point turn to get back on the street, backed into a lovely tree in front of a bedroom window, and applied such force that the tree was UPROOTED. The bozo missed crashing into the house by inches, and we were fortunate in that the tree only blocked half of the garage, but all that was the early hours of our first day of having the house on the market.

    And Afghanistan is giving me nightmares and flashbacks. Years ago, my father and 12 fellow Airmen were killed in a C-130 crash in Africa. I know in the rational part of my mind that it’s not the same, but my subconscious has gone wild with military deaths + the number 13 + children facing life without a parent who died while on active duty + the trauma of a military funeral + a family life that will be radically different from what they’ve known up until now. I thought I was coping, but every night I’m dreaming of plane crashes and Dignified Transfers and the folded American flag presented to the family on behalf of the President and a grateful nation.

    And I have a beloved adult niece who’s gone down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories about Covid, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get her back. None of us wants her near us because she’s unvaccinated, which further enforces her feeling of alienation.

    Thanks for letting me overshare. Most of the good people I know are right here in this community that Alison has made.

    1. That is so much, thank you for sharing. Your comment about family life becoming radically different really hits at what all the military and covid and police brutality deaths mean for kids. Wishing you strength as you process, and hoping you can have peace.

  12. I’m so sorry you’ve had to make this tough decision. My sister started homeschooling my nieces in fall 2020 for the same reasons, to keep them safe. If it helps at all, they are thriving and probably learning more at home than they would have at their school!

  13. Thank you so much for this. You are wonderful at putting our thoughts into words as we endure and rebel against and make difficult decisions about this world. I second so much of what prior commenters have said and I share one of my favorite messages: “Imagine.”

  14. I think parents, and especially mothers, are having the hardest of all situations in this pandemic. I really appreciate your sharing your struggles, and my heart goes out to you. Emerson clearly has great parents and I know she will be learning and growing this year. I feel confident that you and your family will make it a special school year, even if it’s not what you would have chosen.

    “Let us run the race that is set before us….”

  15. Ugh, I’m so sorry. Do they not have any options for outdoor lunch? Over here in Northern Virginia I’ve seen everything to school-provided sit-upons to schools procuring extra benches, but even at my 7th grader’s school they’re saying the kids can eat outside and sit on the grass, which is better than nothing.
    It’s been a week.

    1. My kids’ district has outdoor lunch too for the first 6 weeks at least. They have provided little cushions. It seems like the district could use some of the Covid related federal funding for these items.

      If you (or your daughter) are not 100% sure of your homeschooling decision, this might be another option: does E walk to school? Maybe you can have her come home for lunch. Then she can stay in school the rest of the day? I know you are incredibly strapped for time with your workload, but if your husband has time, maybe he could start calling the district office and organizing parents and advocating for a change to the lunch policy.

      Sending you the best. Mine are both back in school after a year at home. One is a very shy homebody and loved it, while the other was so happy to go back. They are both vaccinated. Ultimately we made the decision that for their learning it was important for them to go back but many parents are making different choices, especially where unvaccinated siblings come into play.

  16. I’ve been reflecting on all of these issues, as well as Afghanistan, and my heart has been heavy. I feel like the shadow of the last President is still hanging heavy over our society. I’m so nervous having my kids back in school, specifically for the lunch issue. Our community has a 91% vaccination rate, but that doesn’t even seem to matter right now. After feeling so much optimism over the last 6 months with the COVID situation improving and the social situation leveling off a bit, the past month has just felt like a punch in the gut.

  17. It’s hard to be a parent. And right now it is damn hard. A big hug to you and your family for having to Endure this. My college age son spent his freshman year of college in his apartment alone doing online classes. This year, he’s taking a gap year and reevaluating everything. And as much as I want him to get his degree, I support his decision. He went to college in Miami ,Florida. One of the biggest hotspots there is. And y’all Florida has not changed in that respect. He’s an adult, he got to make his own choice. He asked if he could come home and we gladly said yes. I do not envy parents having to make these choices now. I do not envy teachers who have to deal with the repercussions of an irresponsible parent. Sending you all the hugs right now. Stay strong.

  18. “It’s hard to fight when you’re so exhausted by this world. When you don’t even know what to do, and you don’t really have the bandwidth to even do it.”

    I’m right there with you, and I’m so sorry. But thank you for writing this quite so eloquently, because I think a lot of women are feeling exactly this right now.

  19. Parenting is so incredibly difficult when the data and recommendations keep changing. The disparity in public schools’ resources is reprehensible, particularly given its racist roots, but I digress.

    Wishing all of you the best in this new endeavor of homeschooling.

    And thank you for being so honest when it comes to the tough parts of life. It isn’t easy to open yourself up like that.

  20. I have always felt guilty for sending my daughter to private school, because like you, I believe in public schools and supporting them with my involvement. We live in Texas. My daughter started kindergarten last year, and there have been so, so, so many times last year and this year that I was glad she was in a private school, with mask mandates and temperature checks and contact tracing. Even some of my most progressive friends have said “I aren’t you glad you went with the private school?”

    Our actions speak to who we are, louder than our words, but we can’t be everything to everyone. We can only do what we can, and everyone has limits. You aren’t letting down public schools by homeschooling your daughter. Your community let you down by not providing a safe school environment. Your decision to homeschool in this situation does not mean you’re giving up on the public schools. I’m guessing you’re still going to be voting for competent leadership, and you may still decide to donate supplies or time, and you may get to send your daughter back next year. Not everyone can homeschool their kids, or choose a private school like I did. It’s very privileged. But I know my values, and I know the values I want my daughter to grow up with. And I’m not going to sacrifice my child just to show everyone else how progressive I am.

  21. During his senior year of high school my son got Covid, as did most of his high school class despite the herculean efforts of his private school to keep everyone socially distant. All the Covid cases in his high school happened while kids were socializing outside of school. He was vaccinated in the Spring and we thought life was moving forward! But last week he got Covid again during his first week of college. Having a sick kid off at college was so difficult for me! Parenting is hard, but more so right now.

  22. I am a long time reader and first time commenter. I love reading here. The love you have for your family and your passion to speak out truly inspire me. You have challenged me to read and ponder and even change my mind. On many matters we are miles apart. You are so good at listening to and championing marginalized people and opinions . Would you be willing to hear another?
    I homeschooled for 20 years. I believe that it is absolutely vital that families be allowed to make the best choice for their kids. Waiting for a school system to figure out how to meet the needs of my child is not the best choice in many cases. You are experiencing that right now. My reasons for choosing to homeschool are different. We do not have to agree on much to agree that our children are of the greatest importance .
    You are not selling out on the school system of Prince George’s County. Your tax dollars will continue to support the schools and you can continue to speak out and fight. What happens in the public schools should matter to everyone-even people without children in the system. We all live in communities together and we all pay for the schools. So go to the meetings, write those letters and blog posts. Your opinion still counts .
    You can also still seek the best education for your daughter through homeschooling. There are so many resources. A curriculum, a co-op, a support group, a resource for every viewpoint. In a county as large as yours you should even find a class for Russian. Ask the school if your daughter could come in for just that class. Or half days. Some schools are very flexible. At worst they say no.
    I just wanted to encourage you. I was a very happy homeschooler. I graduated all of my children from home. I watched many people move in and out of the homeschool community as their needs changed. Public school . Private school. College dual credit. Co-ops. Tech programs. Video school. A remedial year of catching up. A year of travel. We all shared a love for our children and a strong desire to make the best choices for them each school year. Thirteen years in a public school system is not the only way to do that.

    I wish you and your family all the best.

  23. Ally, you sound so despondent. I’m so sorry for all that all of us are going through. Texas is just the icing on the cake. As far as your beloved daughter going back to school: If she is vaccinated, there is a risk-benefit ratio to balance. Her isolation from her friends to be better protected from covid exposure, and her being in a setting where there will be covid exposure, but with her friends. As a conservative person who has been super careful during this pandemic, and the mom of two sons, I might come down on the other side of this equation. I suggest talking it over with her pediatrician. She may get covid, and there is 99% likelihood that it will be mild. If she stays home, she is less likely to get covid, but there is 100% chance that she will be missing out socially and developmentally. Perhaps she could start the year, and you could watch the rates in your county and make a week by week decision. hugs to you, Susan

  24. Alison, I can only imagine how terrible it was to make the decision to home school your daughter. I think I would be making the same decision. That so much is so wrong at the moment is just so hard. I don’t think anyone feels like shopping at the moment. I would rather read your real thoughts. Hugs and hugs. . .

  25. It really does feel that there are no good options for people of character with a conscientious desire to make sound decisions based on ethics and morality. I have no words, just prayers for all of us trying to navigate these troubled waters in a way that we can live with and that teaches and informs our children.

    1. Your blog – and you- are about so much more than fashion. Deepest thanks for putting in writing what we all are feeling.

  26. Yes….the world keeps disintegrating around us.
    I’ve never seen so much ugly in the people around me as the last few years and it is 8utterly exhausting and disheartening.
    Im glad my kids are adults.
    Following the school board discussions in my hometown has been an exercise in frustration.

  27. I really feel this one today, Alison. I’m not an anxious person, but my anxiety is HIGH right now, given the state of the world. I don’t know what the answers are, and I feel so very helpless.

    My husband is an elementary school Special Education teacher. School started on Wednesday, and parents sent their covid-sick child to school. One day in, and a classroom is quarantining. What is wrong with people?

    My thoughts are all over the place here, and this is just one of many devastating topics. I’m so sorry to hear about the difficult choice you’re having to make re: school for Emerson, and thank you for sharing your thoughts so eloquently.

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