Home > Uncategorized > Medium Post Suggests Both/And Thinking Needed… But Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump, and the News Reinforce Either/Or

Medium Post Suggests Both/And Thinking Needed… But Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump, and the News Reinforce Either/Or

July 23, 2020

Medium blogger Shayla R. Griffin, self identified as a “Black woman, a researcher and educator with a doctoral degree and MSW, and a mother of school-aged children” posted a thoughtful and comprehensive essay on school openings. Her overarching ideas was that in considering reporting of schools politicians and decision makers should avoid falling into the either/or mindset and instead use a both/and approach.

I wholeheartedly agree with her premise. Both/and thinking is especially needed in our culture where everything is reduced to a binary choice and then folks are divided into groups based on which “side” they choose.

I also found myself nodding in agreement with her analysis of how to apply both/and thinking. Her recommendation is to limit school attendance to a small pool of students whose benefits from being in school because of their social, emotional, and basic needs far outweigh the risks associated from being exposed to COVID 19.

Finally, I found myself agreeing strongly with one of her fundamental concerns about what is unsaid in the ongoing either/or debate:

What is left unsaid is that there is a good chance Betsy DeVos and her posse will use this moment to try and privatize education across the nation. They will pursue this immoral mission to destroy public education regardless of what we do in the Fall.

My concern is that her idea of effectively segregating the neediest children into existing public school spaces could benefit Betsy DeVos and her cronies by branding the schools that are open as “public schools” and branding the the remote learning offerings as “innovative on-line programs” and reinforcing the either/or mindset about education that seems to be encoded in our thinking. To make matters worse, there is an emerging trend whereby affluent parents are banding together to hire teachers and offer their own version of home-schooling and I’m sure as I am writing this there is an entrepreneur developing an Uber model for matching parents seeking teachers with teachers seeking a job that safe.

The bottom line from my perspective is that Dr. Griffin’s high-minded notion of changing the collective mental formations that compel most people to gravitate toward either/or binary choices is not going to disappear and it will be way too easy to connect the housing of the neediest students in public school buildings with “public education” and that, in turn, will feed the privatization beast. Somehow, the need to keep Betsy DeVos at bay needs to be factored into the both/and equation… and I fear that Dr. Griffin’s analysis underestimates the power of the dominant paradigm in terms of how we think.

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