by A Siegel
School administrators and School Board members around the country are – as are so many others throughout society – tackling very serious challenges, in a continuously changing environment, about how to best educate students amid the coronavirus pandemic, while providing for as safe a program as can be reasonably be done for students, staff, and the community. In attempting to figure out how to conduct the 2020-2021 school year, with serious outbreaks in the majority of the states and the reality that not a single part of the United States has truly succeeded in “squashing the curve,” School Board members and administrators are literally tackling life-and-death issues.
Amid this, ill-informed ideological screaming – by Trump and others – to “reopen the schools” doesn’t reflect the nature of challenge and doesn’t help matters.
SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
“They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed,” Trump said at a White House discussion on school plans for the fall. “No way. We’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools.”
And deception – by analogizing this country’s catastrophic coronavirus management with competent governance and public health measures elsewhere – is worse than just
“truthiness,” but outright deceitful and dangerous.
Hi from Norway.
When we opened our schools (slowly and gradually) in April, we had an average of 50 new cases a day, in the entire country. Getting kids back to school was the number one priority, before churches, bars and restaurants. You had 60,000 new cases yesterday.
— Ida Skibenes ❄️ (@ida_skibenes) July 8, 2020
New cases, yesterday:
United States: 55,442 https://t.co/g7SlEt4exo
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) July 8, 2020
Well, the Dear Leader has spoken and the #Cult45 choir is weighing in. Also, Secretary of (lack of) Education Betsy Devos is lending her voice to the ignore-the-pandemic-risks-and-open-the-schools choir.
It’s clear that our nation’s schools must fully reopen and fully operate this school year. Anything short of that robs students, not to mention taxpayers, of their future,
And, as part of her running with Trump’s message, Devos has weighed in to attack the Fairfax County Public Schools.
DeVos slammed plans by Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to have families decide between fully remote instruction or two days a week at school. “A choice of two days per week in the classroom is not a choice at all”
To be clear, Betsy DeVos has no real concern for public students’ health and public school systems. Betsy DeVos also has no experience of actually running schools – or with the extremely difficult challenges that school systems are facing around the country.
Betsy DeVos does have a history of extremist political engagement, a tendency to fund destructive organizations, and a record of “trying to defund and dismantle public education and make it harder for us to help kids in public education.”
Betsy DeVos & Mike Pence really don’t give a shit. Kids infection rates are on the upswing; now we’ll see how this experiment goes once all kids are crowded in schools w/shady (at best) HVAC systems. I support teachers/ support staff. Btw, way to throw Fairfax PS under the bus 😒 pic.twitter.com/SI13rR6sAw
— DCburbgirl (@cburbgirl) July 8, 2020
While there is no one (NO ONE) ecstatic about FCPS’ return to school process and options, teachers and students are being given “a choice.” Seeking to deal with uncertainty about how to safely have students back in the schools; receiving mediocre and mixed guidance from the federal level; dealing with inadequate resources to institute massive safety programs – frequent testing, greatly expanding staff (medical, cleaning/sterilizing), PPE and other supplies, etc. – the FCPS leadership is seeking to create the best path forward.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attacks Fairfax County's school system as example of systems that botched or didn't really try to do distance learning as a reason to reopen schools. Critics would say DeVos herself knows something about botched education efforts.
— Tom Sherwood (@tomsherwood) July 8, 2020
Unfortunately, Betsy DeVos’ criticisms and Donald Trump’s ignorant exhortations aren’t making this process work any better. They might, however, boost approval of FCPS in this heavily Democratic community. As one High School student put it to me,
“DeVos’ attack is weirdly making me more comfortable in thinking that FCPS might be doing things the right way.”
Heckuva job by Trump and DeVos, eh?