Description: The title says it all. Stop wasting teachers’ time by making us fill out paperwork that won’t help us do our jobs but will make administrators and principals look good. We make our own plans for ourselves. We don’t need to share with you a bunch of BS with Common Core nonsense and step-by-step blah-blah that will probably have to change in the heat of the moment anyway.
Fun Fact: Teachers in my building rarely say anything to me about my blog. But I got some serious appreciation on my home turf for this one.
Description: We talk about missing teachers, subs, aides, bus drivers, but not parents or guardians. We should. They are absolutely essential to student learning. I think there are a lot of good reasons why parents don’t participate in their children’s schooling, but they will never get the help they need if we continue to ignore this issue and throw everything on teachers and the school.
Fun Fact: So many liberals lost their minds on this article saying I was attacking parents. I’m not. If people were drowning, you would not be attacking them by pointing that out and demanding help fishing them out of the water. It is not “deficit thinking” to acknowledge that someone needs help. It’s authentic advocacy for both students and parents.
Description: It wasn’t just liberals who were butt hurt by my writing – it was neoliberals, too. Comedian Bill Maher actually mentioned my article “Standardized Testing is a Tool of White Supremacy” on his HBO show. He joked that I was devaluing the term ‘white supremacy.” Sure. These assessments only help white people unfairly maintain their collective boot on the throats of black and brown people. That’s not white supremacy. It’s melanin deficient hegemony. Happy now!?
Fun Fact: Maher’s assertion (I can’t claim it’s an argument because he never actually argued for anything) seems to be popular with neoliberals trying to counter the negative press standardized testing has been receiving lately. We need to arm against this latest corporate talking point and this article and the original give plenty of ammunition. My article was republished on Alternet and CommonDreams.org.
Description: Most of the world does not have competitive after school sports. Kids participate in sports through clubs – not through the schools. I suggested we might do that in the US, too. This would allow schools to use more of their budgets on learning. It would stop crucial school board decisions from being made for the athletics department at the expense of academics. It would remove litigation for serious injuries. Simple. Right?
Fun Fact: So many folks heads simply exploded at this. They thought I was saying we should do away with youth sports. No. Youth sports would still exist, just not competitive sports through the school. They thought poor kids wouldn’t be able to participate. No, sports clubs could be subsidized by the government just as they are in other countries. Some folks said there are kids who wouldn’t go to school without sports. No, that’s hyperbole. True, some kids love sports but they also love socialization, routine, feeling safe, interaction with caring adults and even learning! But I know this is a radical idea in this country, and I have no illusions that anyone is going to take me up on it.
Description: Republicans have a new racist dog whistle. They pretend white people are being taught to hate themselves by reference to a fake history of the US called Critical Race Theory. In reality, schools are teaching the tiniest fraction of the actual history of racism and Republicans need that to stop or else they won’t have any new members in a few generations. I wrote three articles about it this year from different points of view than I thought were being offered elsewhere.
Fun Fact: I’m proud of this work. It looks at the topic from the viewpoint of academic freedom, the indoctrination actually happening (often at taxpayer expense) at private and parochial schools, and the worthy goal of education at authentic public schools. Article B was republished on CommonDreams.org.
Description: I ran for office this year in western Pennsylvania. I tried for Allegheny County Council – a mid-sized position covering the City of Pittsburgh and the rest of the second largest county in the state. Ultimately, I lost, but these three articles document the effort.
Fun Fact: These articles explain why a teacher like me ran for office, how I could have helped public schools, and why it didn’t work out. Article C was republished on CommonDreams.org.
Description: These are terrifying times. In the future people may look back and wonder what happened. These two articles document how I got vaccinated against Covid-19 and my thoughts and feelings about the process, the pandemic, and life in general.
Fun Fact: It hasn’t even been a full year since I wrote these pieces but they somehow feel like they were written a million years ago. So much has changed – and so little.
Description: Pennsylvania Republican state legislators were whining that they didn’t know what teachers were doing in public school. So they proposed a BS law demanding teachers spend even more of their never-ending time giving updates. I suggested legislators could just volunteer as subs and see for themselves.
Fun Fact: So far no Republicans have taken me up on the offer and their cute bit of performative lawmaking still hasn’t made it through Harrisburg.
Description: When it comes to stopping a global pandemic, we need federal action. This can’t be left up to the states, or the counties, or the townships or every small town. But all we get from the federal government about Covid mitigation in schools are guidelines. Stand up and do your F-ing jobs! Make some rules already, you freaking cowards!
Fun Fact: As I write this, President Joe Biden just came out and said there is no federal solution to the pandemic. It’s not that I think the other guy would have done better, but this was a softball, Joe. History will remember. If there is a history after all this is over.
Description: On January 6, a bunch of far right traitors stormed the Capitol. This articles documents what it was like to experience that as a public school teacher with on-line classes during the pandemic.
Fun Fact: Once again, history may want to know. Posterity may have questions. At least, I hope so. The article was republished on CommonDreams.org.
Gadfly’s Other Year End Round Ups
This wasn’t the first year I’ve done a countdown of the year’s greatest hits. I usually write one counting down my most popular articles and one listing articles that I thought deserved a second look (like this one). Here are all my end of the year articles since I began my blog in 2014:
I love inspiring kids to write. I love coming up with creative and interesting journal topics and poetry assignments. I love explaining the far out concepts – hyperbole, alliteration, onomatopoeia. I love jamming to Blackalicious’ “Alphabet Aerobics,” sharing “Whose Line is it Anyway” videos and trying to write paragraphs to the melodies of Miles Davis.
I love reading books with my students – both together and separately. I love going to the library and helping them find something suited to their tastes – try a Ray Bradbury classic; maybe a new anime; and when you’re ready, a deep meditation by Toni Morrison. I love reading “The Outsiders” with my classes and experiencing Ponyboy’s story anew every year – feeling the highs, the lows, the losses, the victories. I love seeing the look on children’s faces when the realization dawns that they can no longer honestly say they hate reading, but only that sometimes it’s hard. I love catching them with a book in their bags or the same book on their desks being read over and over again because they love it so much.
This was an opportunity for them to grab a few hundred dollars to buy school supplies for their classrooms.
Can you imagine any other professional doing that?
Lawyers giving foot rubs so their clients can get an appeal. Doctors grubbing on a bathroom floor for their patients’ pain pills. Police squeezing into a cash grab booth to fund new bullet proof vests.
Nope. It would never happen because these careers are held in high esteem. And you can tell that based on their salaries and/or the resources provided to do their jobs.
Even Canada follows this practice with hockey. Young athletes don’t play for their high schools; they play for one of three national hockey leagues – the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League or the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The way we do things in the US – combining athletics and academics under one roof – ends up making each undertaking enemies.
Kids are unnecessarily injured in the games and indoctrinated in an ethic of dominance. In addition, sports programs gobble up limited resources meant for the classroom, and incentivize bad decisions that prize athletics over everything else.
Let’s look at each in turn:
School sports began as a way to keep kids safe.
About 120 years ago, schools were not involved in organized athletics.
Perhaps the most dangerous are concussions. These are especially frequent in contact sports like football where athletes bump or smash their heads or bodies into each other. Even with protective equipment like helmets and pads, such collisions can cause traumatic brain injuries that can alter the way brains function for a lifetime.
During the 2005-06 season, high school football players sustained more than half a million injuries nationally, according to the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children’s Hospital. While football easily incurs the highest risk, even sports like soccer and baseball are responsible for thousands of injuries to adolescents between the ages of 10 to 14 every year.
And that’s only the most obvious danger. It doesn’t even include increased steroid use, fighting during games, hazing violence, excessive training, verbal abuse, and failure to provide proper care during important matches.
Competitive extracurricular sports can be dangerous to young people’s health. It is certainly valid to question whether schools should be involved in such practices incurring liability and potentially harming their own students.
2) Warrior Mindset
And then there’s the question of whether school sports are healthy for our minds as well as our bodies.
At the turn of the 20th Century, schools started organizing their own teams because they wanted to not just keep kids physically safe, but provide a healthy alternative to the kinds of activities they might be lured into on the streets. Based on the Victorian ideal of “Muscular Christianity,” sports was considered something wholesome that would district American children (especially boys) from social ills like gambling and prostitution.
However, even then it was a manifestation of the period’s xenophobia.
In the early 1900s, the US had just admitted a surge of European immigrants. Some people were worried that immigrant children would overrun the kids already here. Physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. described this class of American-born kids as “stiff-jointed, soft-muscled, paste-complexioned youth.” It was suggested that organized sports would help them become as brawny as those just coming to our shores.
So the driving motives behind the creation of school sports were bigotry and fear.
Sadly, not much has changed in the intervening years.
Sports culture creates understandings of the world and self that are not entirely healthy in a democratic society.
Moreover, sports do not value critical thinking or individuality. You listen to your coach or team captain or whoever in the hierarchy is above you. Questioning authority is discouraged. Instead, you’re impressed with the duty to follow and accept the decisions of those in charge.
These values would be more helpful in the development of warriors or soldiers – not democratic citizens. We need people who value tolerance, discussion, justice, caring, and diversity of ideals – exactly the opposite of what organized sports instills.
The world view promoted by organized athletic competition is not healthy for our students.
However, even if school sports didn’t hurt kids physically and mentally, they cost a ridiculous amount of money!
However, this is actually a minority of students, only about 42%. That’s because it often costs parents an additional fee for their kids to play on school teams – between $670 – $1,000 a year. This includes sporting registration fees, uniforms, coaching, and lessons.
Costs to districts are hard to quantify but significant.
Football is easily the most expensive high school sport. Consider that many football teams have half a dozen or more coaches, all of whom usually receive a stipend. And some schools go even further hiring professional coaches at full salaries or designate a teacher as the full-time athletic director. The cost of new bleachers can top half a million dollars – about the same as artificial turf. Even maintaining a grass field can cost more than $20,000 a year. Not to mention annual expenses like reconditioning helmets, which can cost more than $1,500 for a large team. To help offset these costs, some communities collect private donations or levy a special tax for initiatives like new gyms or sports facilities.
There are so many costs people rarely consider. For example, when teachers who also serve as coaches travel for game days, schools need to hire substitute teachers. They also need to pay for buses for the team, the band, and the cheerleaders. And that’s before you even take into account meals and hotels during away games. Even when events are at home, schools typically cover the cost of hiring officials, providing security, painting the lines on the field, and cleaning up afterward.
They often end up spending more per student athlete than they do per pupil in the classroom.
Marguerite Roza, the author of Educational Economics, analyzed the finances of one public high school in the Pacific Northwest. She and her colleagues found that the school was spending $328 a student for math instruction and more than four times that much for cheerleading—$1,348 a cheerleader.
One wonders – can we afford school athletics? Wouldn’t it be better to spend school budgets on learning – something all students participate in – rather than something that only benefits a fraction of the student body?
4) Decision Making
The cost of school sports isn’t measured just in dollars and cents but in the kinds of decisions administrators and school board members make for the sake of athletics – regardless of how it impacts academics.
People are often hired for important school positions based on their sports credentials even when their jobs are supposed to be mainly focused on improving student learning.
This is especially true where I live in Western Pennsylvania.
In my home district of McKeesport, when our superintendent, Dr. Mark Holtzman, was hired, he did not have any proven track record of scholastic success but had been a football star when he was a student here.
Likewise, the district where I work as a teacher, Steel Valley, hired Eddie Wehrer as superintendent without any degree in education but experience as a football coach.
The same goes for principals recommending new staff.
Sometimes administrators will lower their standards and recommend a less qualified applicant if he or she has experience as an athletic coach.
Whether they’ll admit it or not, the prospect of a winning season for the football team is often prioritized over new textbooks, smaller class sizes or other improvements.
The act of running for school board is often seen as a way to have greater control over district athletics. Go to most local school board meetings and you’ll hear much more discussion of various teams and extracurricular activities than academic programs.
National organizations like the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball recruit most of their players from colleges who recruit most of their players from K-12 schools. It’s a lucrative system with billions of dollars in profit on the line.
If students get an excellent education, that’s seen as a personal benefit to them, alone. But if a student athlete gets signed to a sports contract, that enriches the team and the corporation orders of magnitude more than the athlete.
Schools bask in the reflected glory of successful athletes, teams and programs. Grown adults who are too old to participate, themselves, take vicarious pleasure in these successes.
I understand that this is a very controversial topic.
There is a small minority of students who benefits from school athletics and even come to school primarily just to participate in sports.
However, the negatives far outweigh the benefits.
I think it’s time we begin considering separating sports and schools.
Students who want to participate in such activities can do so through private athletic clubs just like kids all over the world.
And before I’m criticized as being anti-sports, consider that such a separation would benefit both endeavors. Students would have more time and resources to focus on learning, while athletes could concentrate more on their chosen sport and train all year long instead of just during a certain season.
I have no illusions that anyone will take my advice. Sports are way too entrenched in American schools and our elected officials can’t even seem to find the courage to enact obvious reforms like gun control, repealing charter schools, ending standardized testing and funding schools equitably.
However, if we really want the best for US children, we should give them what kids the world over already have – schools separate from organized sports.
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He was content to speak in a smarmy tone and make a pretty lame joke about what a racially biased test question might look like.
In fact, that’s probably why he (and his staff) picked my piece in the first place. They saw it as an opportunity to make a joke and whiffed at it pretty terribly.
Here’s the relevant bit of his monologue:
“In 2010 the New York Times used the term “White Supremacist” on 75 occasions. Last year, over 700 times. Now some of that to be sure is because Trump came along and emboldened the faction of this country that is truly white supremacist. It is of course still a real thing. But it shouldn’t apply to something like – as more than a few have suggested – getting rid of the SAT test. Now if we find the SAT test is slanted in such a way as to stack the deck in favor of Caucasians, if there are questions like Biff and Chip are sailing a yacht traveling at 12 knots to an Ed Sheeran concert on Catalina – if Catalina is 12 miles away, how many White Claws should they bring? Yes, then maybe. But of course the SAT doesn’t have questions like that so it becomes a kind of ludicrous exaggeration that makes lovers of common sense roll their eyes – and then vote for Trump.”
Queue audience laughter and applause.
Funny stuff I guess.
Not the comedy staff’s fake SAT question but Maher’s assurance that “The SAT doesn’t have questions like that.”
It’s a real SAT question famously discussed in the infamous 1994 book, The Bell Curve, by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray – a book that tried to use discrepancies in test scores to prove white people are smarter than black people.
The answer is C, and it relies on a test taker’s knowing the meaning of regatta – something more likely to have come up in the daily lives of affluent white students than in the lives of less affluent minority students. If you don’t live by a body of water and/or don’t have much experience with rowing, you’re probably going to fail this question.
It’s the same kind of question Maher’s comedy team came up with – find something white people are more likely to know than black people – but the Real Time writers just pilled it on over-and-over.
It doesn’t take five repetitions of something to make it biased. All it takes is one.
To be fair, my example is from the SAT analogy section, which was removed from the test in 2005. However, that doesn’t mean they got rid of the bias.
They are literally trying to make up for how biased their test scores are.
Total SAT scores range from 400 to 1600 – or from 200-800 in both Math and Reading respectively.
According to 2018 data, combined SAT scores for Asian and White students average over 1100, while all other groups average below 1000. Meanwhile, students with family income less than $20,000 score lowest on the test, and those with family income above $200,000 scored highest, according to 2015 data. And the difference is significant – a 433 average Reading score for those with the lowest family incomes compared to an average Reading score of 570 for those with the highest family income. That’s a 137 point difference!
And it holds for racial groups, too. The average Reading score on the SAT was 429 for black students – 99 points behind the average for white students.
However, the College Board is trying to justify this by saying the discrepancy is because poor and minority students are more disadvantaged than white, affluent ones. In other words, it’s not the test that is unfair, but American society in providing better resourced schools with lower class sizes and more resources for white kids than children of color.
Freedle says this is because SAT questions likely reflect the cultural expressions that are used commonly in the dominant (white) society, so white students have an edge based not on education or study skills or aptitude, but because they are most likely growing up around white people.
This makes sense if you examine how test questions are selected for the SAT. In his book How the SAT Creates Built-in-Headwinds, national admissions-test expert, Jay Rosner, explains the process:
“Compare two 1998 SAT verbal [section] sentence-completion items with similar themes: The item correctly answered by more blacks than whites was discarded by the Educational Testing Service, whereas the item that has a higher disparate impact against blacks became part of the actual SAT. On one of the items, which was of medium difficulty, 62% of whites and 38% of African-Americans answered correctly, resulting in a large impact of 24%…On this second item, 8% more African-Americans than whites answered correctly…”
In other words, the criteria for whether a question is chosen for future tests is if it replicates the outcomes of previous exams – specifically tests where students of color score lower than white children. And this is still the criteria test makers use to determine which questions to use on future editions of nearly every assessment in wide use in the US.
But if all this isn’t enough to convince you that standardized tests really are a tool of white supremacy, consider their sordid history.
They are literally the product of the American eugenics movement.
Modern testing comes out of Army IQ tests developed during World War I.
These assessments were based on explicitly eugenicist foundations – the idea that certain races were distinctly superior to others. In 1923, one of the men who developed these intelligence tests, Carl Brigham, took these ideas further in his seminal work A Study of American Intelligence. In it, he used data gathered from these IQ tests to argue the following:
“The decline of American intelligence will be more rapid than the decline of the intelligence of European national groups, owing to the presence here of the negro. These are the plain, if somewhat ugly, facts that our study shows. The deterioration of American intelligence is not inevitable, however, if public action can be aroused to prevent it.”
Is it ridiculous to describe the century long racial and economic discrepancy in test scores as something that supports white supremacy – especially when these results are shown time and again to be a feature of the tests and not just an artifact that recreates economic inequality?
Is it going too far to call out the racism of the SAT and other standardized tests like it when even the College Board admits its own scores are biased?
Does it devalue the term “White Supremacy” to point out real world white supremacy?
But Maher apparently isn’t interested in these questions.
After a few moments he moved on to another example of the left gone wild.
But I can’t do that because this isn’t just a bit for me.
Districts that aren’t experiencing a shortage may require a teaching certificate as well, but beggars can’t be choosers. In districts where it is hard to get subs (i.e. those serving poor and minority kids) you can get emergency certified for a year.
And many states are lowering the bar even further!
Not only would lawmakers have a chance to look over teacher’s lesson plans, but they’d get detailed instructions from the absent teacher about how to actually teach the lesson!
They’d get to interact with principals as they’re told which additional classes they have to cover in their planning periods and which extra duties they’d be responsible for performing.
They’d get to do things like monitor the halls, breakfast and lunch duty, watch over in-school suspension, and – if they’re lucky – they might even get to attend a staff meeting and be front row center for all the educational initiatives being conducted in the school!
If our representatives took this opportunity, they would learn so much!
I mean, sure, we encourage kids to stand for the pledge to the flag and things like that but when it comes to telling them how to think – that’s not a public school thing. That’s a private and parochial school thing.
They’d see that public school lessons give students information on a subject but then ask them to come to their own conclusions about it.
In fact, this would be such an educational experience, I think legislators on both sides of the aisle should take advantage of this unique opportunity.
And not even just those in Harrisburg. What better way for school directors to understand the institutions they’re overseeing than to volunteer as subs? What better way for the mayor and city council to understand the needs of children than putting themselves in the classroom when the teacher can’t be there?
It could make them better public servants who craft legislation that would actually do some good in this world and not – like Lewis – just showboat to enrage partisans and stoke them to vote for people willing to feed their fears and prejudices.
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They are simply busy work – useless paper that is often filed away in the office and never seen again.
Certain kinds of principals – and we know who you are – have checklists of every teacher in the building and simply mark off your name to designate that you turned in your lesson plans like a good doggie.
But even worse are administrators who read every word and send you pages of comments asking you to change this or that so it more closely adheres to the Common Core Academic Standards. As if parroting a bunch of shoddy benchmarks made by standardized testing companies is going to have any real effect on classroom practices.
Either way it’s an exercise in futility.
Whether administrators pour over these plans or just file them away, making teachers hand them in every week has nothing to do with improving teacher effectiveness or even making us more reflective and adventurous educators. It’s about administrators justifying their own jobs.
It’s like saying, “Look what a tough principal I am! I make my teachers hand in their lesson plans. I don’t let them get away with anything!”
Here’s a dirty little secret about education – No one gets into this profession to sit behind a desk with their feet up.
If they do, they soon realize that teaching isn’t the place for them. There is so much we have to do everyday – from grading papers, to counseling students, to calling parents, to scaffolding group work, tutoring, mentoring, modeling, lunch duty, hall duty, in-school suspension – and that’s before we even begin to talk about teaching and planning!
We don’t have time to write up a detailed plan of what we think we’ll be doing in class every single day with an equally detailed justification for everything we’ll do!
Because we know we’ll never actually use it in the classroom!
The very idea of lesson plans is antithetical to 90% of classroom practice.
Teaching isn’t something you can sit back and plan and then recreate with 100% fidelity day-in, day-out.
Today we may need to go back and reteach yesterday’s lesson. Or we may have to jump right back into a discussion we were having last week. Or we may need to switch tacks and focus on something else so students can calm down or won’t get frustrated.
The reality of the classroom determines what a good educator does inside it. And this cannot accurately be guessed at from a distance of time and/or space.
Sure, as a language arts teacher I may know I want to teach vocabulary skills, or complete sentence construction, reading comprehension or anything else. I can pick out my texts and my assignments, figure out which activities would best get across the idea, what kind of practice could be useful, etc. But HOW all that comes together is more of an art than a science.
Your administrator may not even be trained in your discipline. How’s a gym teacher going to evaluate language arts? How’s an elementary special education teacher going to evaluate calculus?
And it’s even worse when compounded by experience – or perhaps I should say inexperience.
Most principals only taught for a handful of years before becoming administrators. And many of them haven’t even had much time to figure out how best to BE administrators.
Yet our warped work culture puts them in charge of the actual professionals in the classroom – the classroom teachers – and encourages them to disrupt the normal flow of things in the name of what? School improvement? Or parasitical management?
Principals should be focused on two things – (1) providing the best work environment for students and teachers; and (2) advocating for teachers and students. They should make sure teachers have what they need to get their jobs done effectively. And that means listening to exactly what those needs are. If those needs aren’t being met inside the district, the principal should go outside and work to get those resources brought in.
Educators don’t need you to stand in judgement of them and then brag to your superiors about being a hard ass. They need you to get them the resources necessary – time, salary, lower class size, counselors, anything really that reduces the unnecessary from a teacher’s day so she can focus on her students.
But demanding educators hand in lesson plans is just the opposite. You’re ADDING to the unnecessary work load, not reducing it.
So lesson plans are an antiquated notion that need to go the way of mimeographs, transparencies and overhead projectors.
My daughter’s school has been open for seven days so far this year.
The school where I teach has been open three days.
Masks optional at both.
Do you know how terrifying that is for a father – to send his only child off to class hoping she’ll be one of the lucky ones who doesn’t get sick?
Do you know how frustrating it is for an educator like me trying to teach while unsure how long your students will be well enough to stay in class? Unsure how long you will?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns we should wear masks in school to protect from Covid-19, especially the more virulent delta variant.
So does the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Nationwide Children’s Hospitals Care Connection, the Allegheny County Department of Health…
And just about every doctor, immunologist and specialist at UPMC as well as the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
Another failure of voters to turn out and support one of the few people with the courage to protect our children.
However, May’s referendum did not affect the Wolf administration’s ability to implement a masking order or other public-health rules under the state’s disease-control law. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has the authority to issue a statewide mask order for K-12 schools under a state law that empowers the department to take appropriate measures to protect the public from infectious diseases.
To his credit, Wolf tried to work with the legislature to get this done.
He asked the Republican-controlled state House and Senate to come back in session and vote on the matter. But since they prefer politics to safeguarding children they refused.
We are fortunate to have at least one adult in Harrisburg – and he lives in the Governor’s mansion.
As many other states have done, we need to require all school employees to get the Covid vaccine or provide proof of regular negative COVID tests just to enter educational buildings.
Right now children younger than 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated. We need to require those young people who are eligible to get the vaccine or provide them with an alternative like remote learning. And when the vaccine has been cleared for all children, we need to add it to the long list of other vaccines children already need to get to enter school.
We need an influx of funding to make it possible to keep kids in school and still keep them socially distanced. As it is now, this is nearly impossible – I speak from experience.
The school where I teach has hardly any social distancing, and frankly we can’t have in-person school without more classrooms, more teachers, more space.
We need to bring back cleaning protocols to make sure every classroom is properly disinfected between periods. We need to ensure that school buildings are properly ventilated.
Will this be expensive? Probably, but if we could waste $300 million a day for two decades in Afghanistan that resulted in NOTHING, we can afford to properly fund our schools for once!
But most of all, we have to come to an understanding – the pandemic is not over – and it will not be over until enough of the general population is vaccinated.
Are you frustrated by masks? Are you frustrated we have to keep going back to these safety precautions?
This week the CDC changed its advice to all staff, students and teachers when schools reopen. Instead of wearing masks in schools only when unvaccinated, people should wear masks regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.
This is necessary to protect children who aren’t eligible for the vaccine and slow the spread of new more infectious variants of the virus, representatives said.
The problem is that too many Americans don’t listen to advice – especially if it goes against their beliefs.
And there are a significant number of Americans who believe whatever crazy nonsense talk radio, Fox News or their savior Donald Trump tell them.
Immunologists talking about infectious disease just don’t rate.
So these people aren’t going to listen to the CDC’s advice.
That presents real problems both for them and for us.
First of all, they’re literally killing themselves.
More than 99% of people who die from Covid-19 these days are unvaccinated, and they make up almost the same percentage of recent hospitalizations.
As a result, cases of Covid-19 are on the rise again in most of the United States. In fact, this country leads the world in the daily average number of new infections, accounting for one in every nine cases reported worldwide each day.
The majority of these new cases are the more infectious delta variant, a version of the virus that could jump start cases even among the vaccinated.
And the reason the virus had a chance to mutate and become more resistant to our existing treatments was a ready supply of easy hosts – anti-vaxxers who refused to protect themselves and now have put the rest of the country back at risk.
Their ignorance and selfishness has put all of us in danger.
That makes me mad, and not just at the anti-vaxxers.
I’m mad at the federal government.
You could have done something about this. You SHOULD have done something, but you didn’t.
The Trump’s administration badly bungled the initial stages of the pandemic with late and inadequate international travel bans, failure to use federal authority to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), failure to require mandatory universal paid sick leave for those unable to work due to the virus, and failure to mandate standards for the health and safety of workers.
In contrast, President Joe Biden’s administration has done better in making the vaccine readily available, but still failed to fix many of the problems it inherited and still continually neglecting to mandate anything.
“Hey, Buddy, why don’t you try this?” – is NOT good enough!
We need – “Do this OR ELSE!”
You can’t just make the vaccine available and hope people are smart enough to take it.
They aren’t. Not in America.
Not after decades of allowing lies and disinformation to infect the airwaves. In the name of freedom we’ve let Fox News and the former President poison the minds of admittedly easily lead citizens until their ignorance impacts all of us.
What we need now is to make vaccines a prerequisite to participate in all kinds of social congress – shopping, dinning at restaurants, movies, sporting events, schools, etc. But our government -our FEDERAL government – won’t do that.
Instead it’s a never ending cycle of passing the buck – that’s been our lawmakers response whether Republican or Democrat – to this crisis.
Authority is left it up to the states, who often refuse to allow safety precautions to be regulated or passed the decision on to someone else until it’s being made separately by every minor representative, podunk flunky and school director this side of Mayberry.
What a disgrace!
And here we are again.
The experts are telling us what we should do in the best interests of keeping our children safe. But the federal government refuses to back it up with its full authority.
Just advice. No rules.
Will people be required to wear masks in public schools?
It all depends on what local officials somewhere down the line decide.
In my home state of Pennsylvania, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf announced yesterday that he is not even considering a statewide mask mandate as Coronavirus cases surge nor will he require masks in schools.
Wolf said his strategy to fight the spread of COVID-19 is the vaccine, itself, – the masking mandate was for when there was no vaccine.
“People have the ability, each individual to make the decision to get a vaccine,” Wolf says. “If they do, that’s the protection.”
Meanwhile, Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald says he’d consider a mask mandate if infections were worse in the county, an area that includes the City of Pittsburgh. Though he suggests schools follow CDC advice, he’s not about to make that decision for them.
So it will be left to local school directors to decide what to do. Probably most of them will allow masks in school but not require them.
It’s a terrible situation with an incredible lack of leadership, but I get it.
School board directors do not have the power of the bully pulpit. They don’t have the power of Chief County Executives, Governors or the President.
If people challenge their decisions (as they probably would) that requires district finances for lengthy court battles and uncomfortable political confrontations for re-election.
None of these folks should have to make these kinds of life and death decisions.
That’s what the President is for. It’s what US Congress is for.
The buck has to stop somewhere. Right!?
But the matter has become so politicized and our representatives so spineless that our entire system hangs by a thread.
What if the federal government mandates masks and certain states or districts don’t listen?
Will its take the national guard to come in and enforce the mandate?
There was a time when lawmakers had the courage to do things like that – to legislate what was in the best interests of society and darn the consequences.
But today’s lawmakers do not have the courage to govern.
And once again, we’re paying for it.
Our society has failed to protect us. It barely functions anymore.
In the few years since we discovered Covid-19, young children have rarely gotten as sick from the virus as adults. However, that is changing. Infections have increased this summer as the delta variant spread until approximately 4.1 million children have been diagnosed with the disease resulting in about 18,000 hospitalizations and more than 350 deaths.
Vaccinated people can get infected if exposed to large enough viral loads. Unvaccinated kids could easily have those high viral loads. This means that everyone is a possible link in the chain of transmission.
But it’s not inevitable.
There is something we could do about it if we act now.
No more mere advice!
Pass some laws, make some rules to keep everyone as safe as possible and finally end this pandemic!
It just takes courage and common sense – two things in short supply in today’s United States.
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