In the past few months as we have dealt with this pandemic explosion, we have been challenged globally to rethink how we operate in this new world order.

It has given us the chance to see firsthand and up close how many people are excluded from opportunities in the mainstream of life. It also offers us reasons to reconsider how we shall live moving forward, what will our lives look like. Our moving forward cannot be the same as it was before COVID-19.

Our recent encounters with this pandemic have been a complete challenge for the people around the world and for us here in these United States of America. We have struggled to discern whether we should completely shelter-in-place or just social distance 6 feet apart and wear protective gear.

Debates have ensued across political and racial lines as to why some populations are impacted greater than others. Trillions of dollars have been spent for the “least of these” in our communities and given to the wealthiest in our nation.

We have been in a whirlwind for months. Unemployment is at its highest in the history of this country, with black unemployment even higher. We are forced to REBOOT if we are to survive as a nation.

Our life as we knew it a few months ago is no longer the norm. Our thinking from day to day shifts depending on the new reports. If we “open up S.C.” and expect to go back doing business as usual, we will be in for a huge surprise.

We are all at a point, honestly, of not knowing what this virus will do next, how it is contracted or when or if it will mutate into a greater pandemic. It originated as a disease affecting the population of those 65 years and older, but we discovered that it has affected adults and children of all ages, as well. You have to wonder what we are being told about this “new world order.”

We can all recall the news headlines sweeping the country at the inception of this disease, how the president predicted that it would be over very quickly and that maybe 15 people might get sick before it simply just dissipated. And as we so often say, “the rest is history.” Some medical experts speculate that this virus will be with us from now until. So, in my mind’s eye, we need to get ready for our annual COVID-19 seasonal shot, perhaps.

I assert that the mode of operation in our overall practices moving forward is very much contingent on the priorities we have set forth as it relates to the care of the common persons in our society. We cannot, and we should not, go back and do what we always did. The few cannot go forward, leaving the many behind.

Then there was the George Floyd “eight minutes forty-six second” knee on the throat hold that killed him and now we are having to look at how we police our communities. (That’s another column.)

RESET … REBOOT SOUTH CAROLINA

As most South Carolinians know, the General Assembly was, and still is, in the process of reforming the educational system in our state. For the record, I serve on the Education Committee, the Education Oversite Committee, the Charter School Subcommittee and recently was appointment to serve on the COVID-19 Public Education committee.

So I see firsthand the reforms that are being discussed within our learning system. So, it is apparent to me that something was wrong with our learning systems long before the appearance of COVID-19. And since COVID-19, we see that a large population of children are not getting the basics of what they need to succeed in this global economy. We were not providing students, districts, administration or teachers and staff with the necessary tools they needed to achieve the greatness that propels students toward success in life. And if it wasn’t working before, then why should we go back. …REBOOT S.C.

There must be a REBOOT in how we educate this new population of young people. We cannot go back to business as usual, “minimally adequate.” We cannot start back from where we stopped. We must reboot.

Kids were failing before COVID-19 in certain ZIP codes, and according to statistics, many of the other students, as a whole, did not perform as well as expected during this “educate-in-place.” So much is lacking in our communities, in our schools even to provide the basic ‘minimal adequate” as described by law.

With all of the great efforts given by educational administrators, faculty, students and staff, we still came up short. Not because our educators did not put forth the effort, but because it was different to all involved. And in some communities of our state, there are “total blackouts” when it comes to broadband and access to learning and health care, to name a few.

If we are serious about others, we must REBOOT S.C., or we will not be able to keep up with the technological, scientific and educational advances for our people to compete in a global society.

Our educational system was broken long before “COVID-19” was a part of our vernacular, before we could even conceptualize an idea of how this disease might impact our way of life. There were school funding issues, mental health issues, reading and math issues, building issues, lack of broadband issues long before COVID-19.

Let us not go back to failed practices and policies of the past that left so many our children behind.

It is time to REBOOT S.C.

Terry Alexander, a Democrat from Florence, represents District 59 in the S.C. House of Representatives.

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