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My Point of View: Will nation unite when COVID-19 pandemic is over?

My Point of View by Joseph Brown

Joseph Brown

 

There are significant moments in history that are ingrained in our memories.

Nov. 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated.

March 30, 1981, President Reagan was shot.

Sept. 11, 2001, two planes destroyed the New York World Trade Center.

After each of these significant events, our nation came together as one. We did not regard ourselves as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, urban or rural. We considered ourselves Americans.  These feelings lasted for many months, and then we returned to our normal selves.

We are now faced with a more serious challenge with COVID-19 or coronavirus. I went to my local Hy-Vee on Saturday to purchase two items: cereal and cat food. The grocery store was very busy but uncharacteristically quiet. People kept their shopping carts a safe distance from each other, and few shoppers looked at each other. COVID-19, unlike the three examples listed above, is not a singular event affecting an individual, city or even a nation.

We are not only citizens of the United States, but we are citizens of the world. We each have a direct and indirect impact on each other. Regardless of our past political views, we need to take a step back and look at the needs of our local community and ask ourselves a series of questions.

How pro-family is the United States compared to other nations? Do we provide pre-natal care to all expectant mothers?

Do we provide the first six months with paid time off for parents of newborns?

Do we provide quality and affordable pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-olds?

Do we provide affordable access to medical and dental care for all citizens?

Do we have a tax system that requires all governments at the local, state and national level to raise revenue first before they spend tax dollars?

Do we only care about the expanding national deficit when one party is in the White House but not the other party?

How long are we going to continue to provide part-time education for our students based on an agrarian calendar that is over 100 years old? Students only attend public schools 15% of the year.  (174 days multiplied by 7.5 hours per day)

How long are we going to continue to gouge our college students with high interest student loans of 8 or 9%? Why can’t they be more reasonable such as a home mortgage at 3 to 4%?

What are we doing as a society to make daycare accessible and affordable so we may have a vibrant workforce?

COVID-19 is a wake-up call for all of us.

Is it time to bring manufacturing jobs back to America?

Is it time to bring drug manufacturing back to America?

Is it time to implement a fair tax system that rewards work?

Is it time to encourage home ownership to stabilize our families?

Is it time to increase the national minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour? This would increase the annual gross income from $15,080 to $31,200.

I was really looking forward to attending the Albert Lea Tigers and Austin Packers boys’ basketball playoff game last week. One of these two local teams was destined to be playing in the state tournament.

High school band, choir and orchestra concerts have been canceled or postponed. The state speech tournament has been canceled or postponed. The Minnesota State High School League has canceled sports practices and competitions have been postponed. Prom has been postponed or canceled in many school districts. Seniors worry about how their plans for graduation may be affected.

At the time of this writing, teachers across the state are preparing to teach Minnesota’s students via distance learning. Through virtual meetings, conference calls and other means, teachers are preparing for the unknown.

My hope is that when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, our nation unites to form a more fair and loving society that results in stronger families, lower crime rates, a better educated citizenry and local, state and national governments that focus on our long term needs in a bipartisan basis. We are all citizens of America and the world. Let’s act that way.

Joseph E. Brown Sr. is the superintendent of Fairmont Area Schools.