UPDATE: Link at the end of the post…
America’s schools will start to open in a few weeks…some as early as the beginning of August…some after Labor Day. With this small window of time to plan, the unhinged President and his unqualified Secretary of Education demand that…
…kids need to be back in school, and that school leaders across the country need to be making plans to do just that.
STATES OPENED TOO EARLY
When the President called for states to reopen he didn’t do it because of any medical or scientific reason. He didn’t insist that the states follow the CDC guidance on reopening because we happen to be in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Pundits have suggested that he is more interested in getting the economy running again than in keeping people safe. A good economy, it is reasoned, will help the President’s reelection campaign.
The point is that we should have solved problems associated with coronavirus months ago.
We shouldn’t be seeing surging cases any more — which are especially bad in states which opened too early or without adequate safeguards.
We shouldn’t be hearing continued complaints from health care workers that they don’t have needed equipment.
We should long ago have increased the number and speed of coronavirus testing.
The entire country watched the state of New York deal with huge numbers of COVID-19 cases in March and April. The experience of New York should have been a lesson for other states…the country should have used the time and experience of New York to prepare for their own outbreaks, but didn’t.
The President has never taken the pandemic seriously. For a while, he held daily news briefings with the Coronavirus Response Team which generally devolved into denunciations of the press or of his political opponents. He won’t listen to or follow the advice of medical professionals. He has politicized the greatest health threat to the nation in a hundred years and instead of following the advice of experts he repeats conspiracy theories, deflects blame (“I don’t take responsibility at all“), and ignores science (“…wearing a face mask…I don’t see it for myself…“), frequently telling the American people that the virus will “disappear” or “go away.” He said, “Stay calm. It will go away.”
Recently, the White House has attempted to discredit Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and one of the nation’s leading experts on infectious disease. Dr. Fauci, it seems, changed his mind when presented with new information, just as any good scientist would.
Instead, the Administration has provided no leadership, no anti-pandemic plan, and no support for the nation. The states are on their own.
SCHOOLS: OPEN OR ELSE
It’s with this background that the President and his Secretary of Education, demand that U.S. schools open or risk losing federal dollars.
Betsy DeVos, while not the only person with no education experience to hold the position of Secretary of Education, is clearly the least competent person to ever lead USED (which is saying a lot …see Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings, and Rod Paige).
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told “Fox News Sunday” that public schools that don’t reopen in the fall should not get federal funds, and that the money should be redirected to families who can use it to find another option for their children.
Why it matters: The Trump administration is engaged in a full-court press to reopen schools this fall, despite warnings from some public health officials that the coronavirus outbreak is out of control in many states and that it will be difficult for many schools to reopen safely.
On CNN’s State of the Union last week, DeVos answered questions by repeating that “schools should open” because apparently, public schools which a few years ago were “a dead end” are now absolutely essential for the survival of our children.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that schools should open back up and, shockingly, that “science should not stand in the way of this.” Clearly, after listening to the context of the statement, McEnany didn’t mean that we should ignore facts or science. She was, instead claiming that the science proved that it was safe to open schools.
The Administration’s claim of safety is that 1) other nations are safely opening schools. Unfortunately (for us), other nations have gotten the coronavirus pandemic under control and don’t have the level of infection that we do.
2) the Administration says that the coronavirus is not as dangerous for young people as it is for older Americans. To say that schools are safe because children won’t die from COVID-19 ignores a huge number of people who work in schools because students are not alone in their schools. There are teachers, administrators, custodians, cooks, bus drivers. and paraprofessionals. All of those people are adults; some of them are at a higher risk because of their age. Furthermore, there are students and staff members who are at high risk for serious illness from the pandemic because of medical conditions. To ignore the fact that adults are in school with children is irresponsible.
IGNORE THE SCIENTISTS
We don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don’t open…
The President agreed with him…
“I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools,” Trump wrote. “While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”
It seems that the President and Vice President believe that changing the CDC guidelines will change the facts of the pandemic. Simply wishing something doesn’t make it true. Costs for a safe school opening won’t be reduced by forcing the CDC to pretend they are not necessary. How contagious the disease is doesn’t change because the President decrees it.
FACTS MATTER. SCIENCE MATTERS
Students will be in school with adults. Some of those students and adults will be susceptible to COVID-19. Students and adults in schools who are exposed and test positive for COVID-19 will bring it home to their families, perhaps elderly relatives.
Ignoring the fact that schools don’t operate in a vacuum is disingenuous, irresponsible, and frankly, stupid.
Larry Cuban, always the voice of reason, suggests that, instead of threatening, the Administration let districts determine for themselves how they are going to support the education of their students. After all, didn’t Republicans once argue for more local control?
There is no question that, under pandemic-free circumstances, students are best served by in-person instruction. But the barriers that school districts face under current circumstances are substantial…
Anyone who knows anything about education (i.e., not Trump and DeVos) would recognize that these things cannot be dismissed with the wave of a hand, and that the best you can hope for is that districts work through them as best as is possible, adopting different (and flexible) solutions as dictated by local circumstances….
Of course, it’s important to reopen schools…but we need to reopen schools safely even if it’s “tough and expensive!”
UPDATE: Read this article from the AARP