To: Fayette R-III School District, Superintendent Jill Wiseman and Board of Education: Gary Gose, President, Matt Hudson, Vice President, Larry Anderson, Shauna Young, John Stroupe, Amber Overfelt, Skip Vandelicht

I do not envy you in your daunting task of trying to recover vital lost in-person education time during this coronavirus pandemic shutdown. I hear from educators, being interviewed in public media, that many students will be traumatized to varying degrees by the loss of physical interaction with teachers, and school staff, and other students, especially those living in more dysfunctional homes and homes with financial and food insecurities.

When back in session, schools will need to provide enhanced educational opportunities to make up some of this critical lost in-person time in the educational life of a developing student. The framework of the five-day (not the four-day) school week will be necessary to best address the extra challenges.

You all have heard repeatedly about the negative physical, economic, social development and academic achievement impact that the four-day school week has on students, their families, and the community. I learned from a Boonville real estate broker that my property value will go down. Families do not want to move to a community with the image of a failing school district.

The pandemic shutdown is causing much reflection about how our capitalist-based system has failed us in our pursuit of happiness, good health, economic security, and having quality, well-funded education.

People are not consciously aware that, for 400 years, public education has not been based on capitalism, but is actually one the number of “democratic socialism” institutions in our democracy. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and the Green Party have thrust this approach to organizing parts of society into the political spotlight.

What this means in mechanical terms is that every resident of a school district who owns real or personal property, is “voluntarily” required to pay a proportional share or tax on private property, and that pooled money becomes a public trust out of which the costs of education are paid. School boards and district administrators are responsible for carrying out the charge of equal education for all children, without reservations or prerequisites. Other public trust money comes from the state and federal governments from other methods of taxation of private wealth.

Unlike the survival of the fittest definition of capitalism, in public education, everyone is included on an equal access basis, and no child is left out, rejected or disqualified for any reason, and teachers and school workers are paid according to their worth to society.

Unfortunately, the capitalist mental orientation tries to creep into a democratic socialist school system and siphon off public funds for private, profit-driven education structures. Examples of this are charter schools and private schools where some disadvantaged students get left out or are pushed aside, and teachers are paid according to capitalist rules. Even now, capitalist tech companies are making money off the need for computer access by students to study from home.

The capitalist mentality has intruded into the Fayette R-III district with the outsourcing of janitorial and food services, where people lost their jobs or took pay cuts and public money went into the pockets of profit-driven companies who pay workers as little as they can get away with to enhance profits.

On the positive side, restoration of busing to the city of Fayette for the students, an unprofitable decision in capitalism, is the defining work of democratic socialism.

The four-day school week structure, too, violates the democratic socialist school system by using a capitalist mindset to force students and families and staff and the community, through deception about the negative consequences, to sacrifice their quality of life and the very academic performance of students so that teachers can make a perceived salary profit because of fewer in-classroom hours per week (the annual salary is the same). There are many capitalist-style losers in this calendar, especially the children.

Now is the opportunity to take the measures we have control over to do our part to restore democratic socialism programs tarnished by unrestrained capitalism. This means restoring the five-day school week calendar under the historic democratic socialism banner and pressing for "valve" funding of education.

I wish you all well and best of luck in the monumental task of educating children in this time of crisis.

Paul Lehmann is an educator and tax supporter of the Fayette R-III public school district.