No one could have predicted the abyss of 2020 when it took the stage a year ago. Clearly it has been an almost impossible challenge from start to finish. Globally, nationally, locally, COVID-19 had us by the neck throughout the year.
What’s ahead in 2021 can’t be predicted until we understand when vaccines will be available widely — and fairly — enough and prove effective enough to begin to suppress this pandemic.
But 2020 laid bare just how fragile we are as a nation, as communities, as institutions, as an economy and next year will begin either the reclamation of those ideas or their abandonment.
There’s not a lot we here can do about events taking place hundreds or thousands of miles away, but there’s plenty we can do at home to refocus priorities as the pandemic fades.
Local elections await in April and while a good many will go uncontested, there are plenty of important ones at stake, particularly for seats on high school boards, where so much of the pandemic’s visible effects have played out.
One thing remote learning has shown us again is the gap between those with the resources, technology and support systems and those without. Providing public education equitably and bridging the chasm in achievement between white and minority must be front and center.
That issue appears to be in particular focus in the election for seats on the Lyons Township School Board of Education, and with so many longtime incumbents bowing out there’s room for a real change.
At Riverside-Brookfield High School the pandemic has resurfaced the tension between faculty and administration that we’d hoped had been resolved with the quick approval of a new contract in 2019.
Those sides being on the same page is critical for the school to begin tackling crucial issues like equity and achievement. We hope they work toward that meeting of the minds in 2021.
We’ve seen so much dysfunction in government on the national level in recent years – and especially in 2020 – that we sometimes forget it is there to improve our lives and can, when those in charge believe in the purpose of governing.
That filters down to the local level and we fear at times that the strident, social media-driven rhetoric will result in people tuning out and letting those loud, often self-interested, voices clear the field.
Governing at the local level, at its core, is about mundane affairs – making sure water and sewer systems function, maintaining streets and alleys, efficiently serving residents who want to improve their properties and ensuring both existing and prospective businesses thrive by instituting sound planning methods.
It’s also about delivering public safety in an equitable manner and not using public safety agencies as political pawns.
If the last several years have taught us anything, however, it’s that no one person has all the answers when it comes to “fixing” government and that those say they have all the answers likely have no idea what they’re talking about.
As for 2020, our lost year is over. Let’s make 2021 much better.