Local Commentary

A New School Year Begins

What a school year it is going to be for everyone in and around the Falls Church City Public School system! The upbeat spirit so evident in the system’s virtual online Convocation Tuesday morning served to kick off what will certainly be a challenging but hopefully tremendously productive and fruitful experience for everyone involved. These are times for change.

There are going to be sacrifices and students are going to have to do without, as was the case last spring, with poignant experiences like concerts, plays, dances and sporting events and, of course, the priceless daily face to face interactions with their teachers and peers. We do not minimize these losses in the slightest. We can only hope that progress bringing this pandemic under control will make it possible to recover at least some of these options at an early date in the new school year.

But with all the very serious problems afflicting our world right now — a deadly worldwide pandemic, global economic depression and the rise of white supremacist movements with their threats to democracy — we are confident that the best of our students, their families, friends, and professional advisors and instructors will be focused on achieving the skills, knowledge and insights all 2,600 or so of the students in the City’s collective care require to meet the challenges of these times not just for themselves but for the world as a whole.

Millions of young people in our society are already stepping up their game in response to these crises and the problems they will undoubtedly bring on in the coming months and years. Our future, under the best of circumstances, will be very different from the past even as it prevailed only six months ago.

To the good, there is a clear potential for a powerful cultural reset, an opportunity to correct the deep inequities that became gradually baked into our collective consciousness by the reaction of some powerful interests against the rise of the civil rights movement and era of the Great Society.

That pushback by purveyors of hate and division gave us the slogan, “Greed is Good,” in the l980s and aggressively ate away at our culture to abandon “the angels of our higher nature” in favor of the kind of moral cesspool currently in the White House.

But young passionate hearts, girded by a new zeal for equality, justice, compassion and opportunity, are rising now to see we don’t go back to a cultural ethos defined by greed and selfish self-interest. So, education becomes so acutely important, to teach the traditions, ways and inventive possibilities of better societies, even better than any yet known on this planet.

Serious fresh knowledge, rejecting the nihilistic cynicism of so-called “postmodernism” and its fixation on attacking truth based on soulless power, must build on a New Enlightenment of scientifically-based humanism as the necessary root of a sustainable democracy.