Category Archives: Trump

2020 Medley #17 — All COVID-19, All the Time

It’s all COVID-19 – all the time, 
Teach in-person or lose funding,
Billions for privatization, Stingy U.S. Senate, 
The damage done, It’s still poverty


Is there really anything to write about besides the problem of schools starting during the pandemic…the threat to students and teachers…the lack of preparation and science-based decisions?

The big problem facing public education right now is the fact that states are coercing school staff and students back into in-person classrooms before the pandemic is under control and virtually every education writer has at least one, and often more, opinions about the subject.

Maybe it’s my “bubble” but most of the articles I’ve read (and posted) were on the side of “no in-person school until it’s safe.” The few that were in favor of opening schools in the middle of a pandemic took the side of 1) parents need to go back to work, which only shows up the failure of state and federal governments ability to provide for safe child care and provide support for parents who would have to stay at home to be with their kids, and 2) kids are less affected by COVID-19 so they’ll be ok…with little if any acknowledgment that in order to have kids in school one must also have adults who are at greater risk from the illness.

For me, however, the biggest problem is the same one that the media has faced since the current occupant of the White House* announced his candidacy four years ago; there is so much shit going on — mostly from Washington D.C. — that one can’t keep up with it.

Take a look at the news. There is no longer any such thing as a 24-hour news cycle. Now it’s more like 24 seconds…the time it takes “tiny fingers” to tweet something outrageous. “Little kids are immune to coronavirus” (not true), “Hydroxychloroquine will cure COVID-19” (not true), and other things that are also not true. Meanwhile, there are [the current number of Americans dying daily] Americans dead today who were alive yesterday, and a total of [the current total of Americans dead from COVID-19] Americans who are dead from the pandemic. As of this writing (August 7, 2020), nearly 158,000 dead.


Schools that don’t offer in-person instruction could lose funding, top lawmaker says

First, the Indiana supermajority has decided that the current occupant of the White House* and his ignorant Secretary of Education have the right idea — double down on their plan to privatize public education by requiring schools to reopen for in-person instruction or lose federal funding. Local control be damned.

The current President Pro Tempore of the Indiana Senate has jumped on that bandwagon and will cut by 15 percent, funding for schools that don’t provide in-person instruction. Local control be damned.

The decision for schools to remain closed in counties with a dangerously high prevalence of COVID-19, therefore, is out of the hands of local health departments and school boards. The Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly intend to punish any school or school system which dares to keep its students and staff members safe. Guess which school systems, and which students will be hurt the most by this.

Public schools that do not offer an in-person education option could see their budgets slashed, despite prior assurances from Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state leaders that they would be fully funded.

Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray sent a letter to school leaders Thursday – after dozens of districts around the state have already started — to offer “a bit more clarity” about state funding. Only public schools offering in-person instruction or both in-person and virtual options are likely to be fully funded, he said in the letter obtained by IndyStar.


AU’s New Report Details How Billions In Pandemic Relief Was Diverted To Private Schools

Money meant for public education was diverted to private, mostly religious, schools. Fortunately for Indiana, Republican State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick made sure that the damage was minimal.

Private schools got billions in taxpayer money: Under PPP, private schools, both religious and secular, got between $2.67 billion and $6.47 billion. At least 5,691 private schools, including at least 4,006 private religious schools, got “loans” from PPP – and remember, these loans can be mostly forgiven by the government as long as the schools meet a few criteria, so they are really grants.

Private schools often received more money than nearby public schools: Public schools were not eligible for PPP, but they were able to receive funds from a separate coronavirus relief program called ESSER. The ESSER fund allocated $13.2 billion in pandemic recovery funds for public school districts. But we know that private schools might have received as much as $6.47 billion under PPP. That’s nearly half of the ESSER fund – even though private schools serve only 10 percent of the student population.


Myths and Facts About the COVID-19 Public Education Relief Being Debated in Congress

Next, don’t expect much help from the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. After already diverting an outsized chunk of coronavirus relief help to private schools, the Senate plan has no desire to help struggling public school systems.

First Myth The leaders in the U.S. Senate say there is more money for public schools in the HEALS Act than there is in the HEROES Act: The HEALS Act would award $105 billion for K-12 and higher education while the HEROES Act would award only $90 billion.

The Facts …The Vice President for State Policy and Tax at The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Michael Leachman explains that already, “Huge state and local budget shortfalls are forcing schools to lay off teachers and other employees, making it even harder to open safely or provide adequate remote instruction. Because the pandemic forced states to shut down their economies, state and local revenues have fallen off the table. Already, states and localities have furloughed or laid off 1.5 million workers, including 667,000 bus drivers, cleaning staff and other school workers, and imposed other steep funding cuts. Without more federal aid, cash strapped states—which must balance their budgets each year—likely will continue cutting school funding, forcing more layoffs and other cuts in school support… Yet the Senate Republican plan… offers no new general fiscal aid to states, only to schools to cover reopening costs… With fewer staff and dollars, schools would find it even harder to open safely and provide high-quality instruction.”


This Year Will Be a Lost School Year

Nearly everyone wants students to be in school. Teachers didn’t study education for four (or more) years, accept lower than average salaries (compared to other college graduates), in order to sit behind a computer screen and try to keep the attention of several dozen inattentive students. Teachers want to be in the classroom, interacting with students. Relationships are one of the most important parts of a good classroom atmosphere. The damage from COVID-19 is already done.

First, virtual learning should open everyone’s eyes to how much goes on at school. Last spring, there was simply no way to replicate, in a virtual setting, my daily classroom routine. Virtual learning uncovered the vast amount of work that teachers were ushering kids through each day. It was a literal ton of work. It raised questions about the purpose and ends of the work we were assigning and exposed the reality that we continue to worry about the number of work students produce ahead of the work’s relevance to, and interest of, students. We need to grapple with the balance between quality instruction and quantity of instruction.

Second, the driving factor concerning the quantity of work heaped upon students was revealed this spring-testing. With testing suspended, it hastened teachers’ ability to truncate and focus their instruction, which led to more questions about why we rely so heavily on testing. Clearly, schools and teachers understood which students needed more help even when testing was no more. If teachers and schools know who needs help without standardized tests, it is a reasonable conclusion that testing resources should be reallocated more effectively.


School poverty – not racial composition – limits educational opportunity, according to new research at Stanford

From September 2019: The problem is race and poverty. America is failing.

To determine what accounted for the correlation, they controlled for racial differences in school poverty and found that segregation no longer predicted the achievement gaps. That meant the association between racial segregation and the growth of achievement gaps operated entirely through differences in school poverty.

“While racial segregation is important, it’s not the race of one’s classmates that matters, per se,” said Reardon. “It’s the fact that in America today, racial segregation brings with it very unequal concentrations of students in high- and low-poverty schools.”

* WARNING: Politics:

I’ve decided that I can no longer use the proper name of the current occupant of the White House or the title which he has sullied in his less than 4 years in office. He has shown that he is willing to provide more help to red states, “his people”, than to “Democratic states” (see also here). 

In that respect, I no longer consider him the President of the United States (even though I live in a state filled with “his people”). He has proven that he is only the president of his base, of which I am not, and never will be, a member.


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Filed under Article Medleys, DeVos, IN Gen.Assembly, McCormick, Pandemic, poverty, Privatization, SchoolFunding, Trump

2020 Medley #16

Union presidents reject Medicare for All,
Getting back to school,
Charter schools are businesses,
We didn’t ask for vouchers. 


Teacher Union Presidents Weingarten and Eskelsen-Garcia Vote No to Medicare for all in Dem Platform

Randi and Lily are just being selfish. Yes, we had good health insurance when I was teaching. We had good prescription insurance. It cost a lot, but we were a large insured group so we got so-called “Cadillac” plans for less than it would have cost us individually. It included vision and dental, something that isn’t included in Medicare and my Medicare supplement.

But, employer-based health care leaves people behind. It’s unfair. It leaves some people without any coverage at all. And we’re the only advanced nation on the planet that still allows a large chunk of our population to be unprotected in the event of an expensive (and they’re all expensive) medical emergency.

Around a half-million Americans declare bankruptcy because of medical bills each year. Some of them might even have insurance, but it’s not always enough. Often a serious illness means loss of work…and loss of work means loss of health insurance. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic upon us, more than 30 million American workers are unemployed and without employer-based health insurance. No other country would let this happen to its citizens. It’s cruel. It’s selfish. And it’s unnecessary.

To protect those “Cadillac” plans, the presidents of the nation’s two largest teachers unions have doubled down on American selfishness and rejected a single-payer plan as a plank in the Democratic Party platform. It’s a “We’ve got ours. Tough sh!t for you” plan worthy of the Republican Party.

Weingarten has been an outspoken opponent of national health care for a while. Like other national union leaders she says she wants to protect the health care her AFT and other union locals have bargained.

Now that 30 million newly unemployed workers are without employer provided health insurance, this defense rings hollow…

Abdul El-Sayed, an epidemiologist and former health commissioner for the city of Detroit, argued that the coronavirus outbreak demonstrates why the country needs a single-payer system like Medicare for All rather than just an expansion of the Affordable Care Act.

“We have an opportunity to go bigger because this moment demands it,” El-Sayed said, arguing for an amendment that was eventually defeated.

What a time to vote against national healthcare.

So out of touch.


Trump’s Plan to Reopen Schools Puts Black Students at Risk

Guess which students are most susceptible to COVID-19.

Then guess which students have the fewest resources in their schools.

Now guess who will suffer most from an early, poorly designed return to in-person schooling this fall.

It is not shocking that Black parents, and many other parents of color, are choosing the lives of their children over going to school. Children in the United States are more likely than kids in other countries to have underlying health conditions, such as asthma, that place them at an increased risk of becoming severely sick with COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black children suffer from asthma at more than double the rate of white children.

It again comes back to racism. Black people are more likely to live in the areas hit hardest by the epidemic, as a result of the segregation and pollution that worsened it.

How To Stop Magical Thinking In School Reopening Plans

Here’s a good idea. Let’s use science and facts to plan how we will go back to in-person education this year. It’s important for kids to have live interaction with a teacher. Young children may not be as susceptible to the dangerous aspects of COVID-19. But older children and adults in school buildings are susceptible to the illness. What’s more, they are more likely than young kids to spread the disease. Some children and adults have preexisting conditions that make exposure to the coronavirus a life-threatening experience. Some children and adults have parents and grandparents living in their homes who would be threatened by the virus.

There’s no reason to scold teachers for their very real fear about going back to school. There’s every reason to believe that teachers, staff members, and administrators know more about how to teach — even how to teach during a pandemic — than politicians.

I can only speak for myself: I am not yet ready to abandon the idea that we can go back to school safely this year. I think it’s going to take a lot of work and more resources than we’re currently talking about at the national level. I also think we are going to be very hard pressed to make this work by Labor Day. But if we can get the virus under control outside of school, get together the necessary resources, and make an honest assessment of the risks and rewards… OK.

But we’re not going to get that honest assessment unless and until we stop thinking that magical plans will allow us to reopen schools in a few weeks. I know this will come as a shock to many pundits, but people who actually work in schools have almost certainly already thought of your “creative” solution to the problem. The likely reason they aren’t implementing it is because they don’t have the luxury of not questioning the very real issues you didn’t address in your op-ed.

If that sounds harsh, I’m sorry — but lives are literally at stake. 

Open schools are the exception, not the rule, around the world

The President and his billionaire Secretary of Education are either too stupid to see the difference between the way the US and successful countries have handled the pandemic, or they don’t care. Personally, I think it’s at least a little of both.

The few countries that have successfully reopened their schools have lowered the incidence of COVID-19 in their countries so that their children and school workers will be safe. We haven’t.

The few countries that have successfully reopened their schools have universal health care so that citizens who need health care don’t have to worry about losing their health care if they lose their job. We don’t.

The few countries that have successfully reopened their schools have included teachers and other school workers in the planning so that reopening is done by people who know what goes on in a school. We haven’t.

Opening schools when we’re still seeing a thousand deaths a day is just stupid.

Each of these European countries provide universal health care and have a nationwide pandemic plan. To the extent that decisions are delegated to local levels, as they are in Germany, there is national coordination.

Teacher unions have typically been involved in planning school reopenings in Europe, which is critical, since teachers are the most viable enforcers of new safety rules. “There’s a great deal of trust in authorities because we know that we can always sit down and talk about things,” Dorte Lange of the Danish Union of Teachers said.

Educators Prepare for Reopening with Living Wills and Life Insurance

The public school infrastructure in the US is so inadequate in some places that a safe return to school during the pandemic is impossible. Teachers want to teach their students, but they don’t want to risk their lives to do it.

To safely return, educators want personal protective equipment (PPE) for every staff member and student. They want hand-washing supplies. They want safely ventilated classrooms, fully staffed custodial and deep-cleaning crews, and school transportation plans that don’t include crowded buses. “One thing that could help is if we had a plan to resume safely,” said Miami high school teacher Nyree Washington. “We do not have this plan.”

Educators like Washington’s Rieker know what it’s like to be in a classroom with 27 or 28 fourth graders. “A kid needs to blow their nose, sharpen their pencil. How do you do these things and stay socially distanced?” she asks. “I have individual desks in my classroom, but some of my coworkers have tables. We don’t even have desks for everyone.”


NPE Publishes Comprehensive, State-by-State Listing of PPP Money to Charter Schools

There’s no doubt about it. Charter schools are not “public schools.”

Public schools have been prohibited from getting small business loans from PPP funding. Charter schools have not. Public schools are forced to use the money received from the cash-strapped state for their operation. Charter schools are raking in money meant for small businesses as well as using money from the state.

Here is a link to a list of charter schools that received Small Business Administration PPP funding.

National List of Charter Schools/CMOs/EMOs That Received Small Business Administration PPP Funding

On July 24, 2020, I posted about ProPublica’s PPP loan search engine, which allows the public to easily investigate PPP loans disbursed to any small business or nonprofit, including scores of charter schools, private schools, and other education-related businesses and nonprofits.


The Proof Is In The Ballot Box: Voters Don’t Like Private School Vouchers

Hey, Indiana…do you remember when we, as voters, chose to divert millions of education dollars from our public schools to school vouchers for mostly religious schools?

Neither do I…because we didn’t. The legislature, under the direction of Governor Mitch Daniels, decided to move public money from the schools that 90% of our students attend to religious institutions.

We didn’t vote for it. We didn’t approve it. We didn’t choose it.

Although Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Republican officials believe that vouchers are an issue worth pursuing to gain support, the voting record on this matter shows otherwise: Vouchers are not popular with voters. AU has compiled a list of ballot initiatives from states all over the country dating back to the 1960s that planned to use public taxpayer funding to support private schools. In all of these instances, voters rejected voucher schemes, proving that policies like school vouchers actually have very little support among the American electorate. (In Arizona, voters went to the polls in 2018 and rolled back an expansion to that state’s voucher plan that had been approved by the legislature – 65 percent to 35 percent.)

The National Coalition for Public Education, an umbrella organization of defenders of public education that AU co-chairs, points out that there are several reasons why people do not support school vouchers and why vouchers are actually largely ineffective at helping to improve the education system. For instance, school vouchers take needed assistance away from public school systems to fund the private education of a much smaller population of students.

Private school vouchers also do not save taxpayers dollars in the long run. The number of students using private school vouchers to leave public schools is so minimal that it does not affect the operating costs of public schools. Therefore, public schools are only losing out on necessary funding at the hands of the voucher system. In addition, many pro-voucher supporters have argued that they help give education options and opportunities to low-income students. However, as NCPE notes, studies have found that “private school vouchers do not adequately serve low-income students.” This is because the price of private school tuition and fees often exceed the amount of the voucher itself.


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Filed under Article Medleys, Charters, DeVos, EskelsenGarcia, Healthcare, Pandemic, Public Ed, Racism, SchoolFunding, Teachers Unions, Trump, vouchers

Wishing Doesn’t Make it So

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.


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.


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).

Betsy DeVos: Schools that don’t reopen shouldn’t get federal funds

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.


Vice President Pence said,

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.


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?

Dilemmas Facing Policymakers in Re-opening Schools

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

1 in 4 U.S. Teachers at Risk of Severe Illness from Coronavirus


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Filed under DeVos, Pandemic, Public Ed, Trump

Children Learn What They Live, 2020 version

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte


If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

“The president’s attacks have done some damage,” Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said Wednesday at an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. He cited a Freedom Forum Institute poll this year where more than three-quarters of Americans said “fake news” is a serious threat to democracy.

“I believe President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Wallace said.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

The ICE raids, carried out under the leadership of a Donald Trump-appointed US attorney, took place at seven food processing plants in six Mississippi cities. Photographs of crying children left distraught when their parents were taken into custody immediately went viral worldwide.

Father Jeremy Tobin, a Catholic priest who works with the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (Mira), told the Guardian he had been flooded with worried calls and messages from immigrants, documented and undocumented alike.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

The world has loved, hated and envied the U.S. Now, for the first time, we pity it — Fintan O’Toole

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

Trump seems terrified that history will look more kindly on Obama’s presidency than on his own.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

Peter Alexander, White House correspondent at NBC News, asked the US president: “What do you say to Americans, who are watching you right now, who are scared?”

Erupting in anger, Trump unleashed a tirade: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter. That’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.”


If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

In the middle of difficulty there is opportunity. – Albert Einstein

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

We either overcome our innate tribalism and learn to live amicably together, or this experiment we call America is over. — Sheila Kennedy

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate. —- William Arthur Ward

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. – Mark Twain

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. -– William James.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

Nothing is yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it. ― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

MARIANA: Come, let’s return again, and suffice ourselves with the report of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this French earl: the honour of a maid is her name; and no legacy is so rich as honesty. ― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need. ― Rick Riordan, The Red Pyramid

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. — Fred Rogers

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Studies routinely show that students learn better when they feel safe, for example. Yet interventions that focus on visible signs of safety—metal detectors, wand searches, and so on—have not been found to deter crime and actually can make students feel less safe at school. What does reduce bullying and make students feel safer? According to an analysis of the National Crime Victimization Survey, only one intervention: more adults visible and talking to students in the hallways, a mark of a climate with better adult-student relationships.



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Critical Thinking in the Post-Truth World

In 2012 Donald Trump claimed that climate change was a Chinese hoax.

Once he took office, the Trump administration began to dismantle science-based policy in the US.

The Trump Administration Has Attacked Science 100 Times … and Counting

The Trump administration’s unprecedented record on science will harm people across the country, especially the most disenfranchised. While the sheer number of attacks on science is shocking, what a lack of science-informed policy means for our country is even more shocking. The administration’s rollback of protections from exposure to dangerous chemicals means that more people will become ill, develop chronic diseases or die from encountering these hazardous substances.

A good example comes from an early 2018 issue when Trump administration officials blocked the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) from publishing a draft toxicology report on a class of potentially hazardous chemicals commonly found in drinking water and groundwater

Science Under Attack: How Trump is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work

Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.

But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Mo., the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.

The Trump administration is following in the footsteps of the Texas school board member who (talking about science standards for schools) claimed that someone has to “stand up to experts” who are using science to develop policy.

The constant anti-science drumbeat that comes from Washington has led a large number of Americans (mostly supporters of the President) to become distrustful of experts, medical experts in the case of the current pandemic. This has led to an increased number of coronavirus skeptics and deniers.

Some skepticism comes from ignorance based on racism fueled by political rhetoric, like the county official in Kansas who claimed that the coronavirus wasn’t a problem for them because they don’t have any Chinese people living nearby.

For others, it’s the almighty market. They want to protect Wall Street by canceling all the shelter-at-home orders and get the economy rolling again. Just ignore that COVID-19 death behind the curtain.

In a recent interview, Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard, explained why some experts are believed and some are not. It turns out that, Simon and Garfunkel were right. “…a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

People trust their dentists. People trust their car mechanics. In general, people use experts all the time, and most of us don’t spend a lot of time second-guessing experts on most issues. There are some definite exceptions to that…the big exception has to do with what I’ve written about, which is implicatory denial. That is to say, we reject scientific findings because we don’t like their implications.


When you have an established, scientific, emergent truth, it is true whether or not you believe in it, and the sooner you understand that, the faster we can get on with the political conversations about how to solve the problems that face us.

Americans are having trouble with the truth. The truth comes from sources we trust, and for many, the only source worthy of trust is their own ideological bubble. America’s education system is left with the task of teaching students how to identify truth and how to recognize propaganda and hyperbole. In that way, perhaps, we might move on from a “post-truth world” to a world where experience and expertise are valued, and where there is a common basis for truth.

There are teachers in America’s public schools who are teaching children to identify propaganda and learn to identify the truth. In the following video (go to 19:50) we see a teacher helping middle school children learn to identify misleading information. The teacher, Melissa Lau, who was trained by the National Center for Science Education, believes that her job is to help the students learn to “navigate” the world of online information. The narrator is shocked that children in sixth grade are having to learn how to decipher misinformation and recognize fake experts, logical fallacies, cherry-picking, and conspiracy theories. What is shocking is that many Americans regularly fall for these techniques when they read the news and otherwise gather information.

“It’s a survival skill in this day and age.”

One thing is clear. Purveyors of misinformation will keep on doing what they’re doing as long as they are profiting — economically or socially — by it. It’s our job as educators to help students understand misleading content and sift through the massive amounts of information coming at them and learn to be critical readers and thinkers. Students need to understand how to identify propaganda, recognize “spin,” and learn how to find truth in a “post-truth” world.

Maybe if we are successful some of it will rub off on their parents.


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Filed under CriticalThinking, Public Ed, Science, Trump