Home > Uncategorized > Nick Kristof Accentuates Wrong Wrongheadedness

Nick Kristof Accentuates Wrong Wrongheadedness

November 19, 2020

Nick Kristof, who almost always gets things right, accentuated the wrong wrongheadedness in his column yesterday titled “When Trump was Right and Many Democrats Wrong“. In the essay, Kristof asserts that the President’s insistence that the country re-open schools was correct while “the Democrats” reluctance to do so was wrong. In his piece Kristof seems to bend over backwards to make the reopening decision a “Trump vs. the Democrats” issue:

So Democrats helped preside over school closures that have devastated millions of families and damaged children’s futures. Cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have closed schools while allowing restaurants to operate.

It’s true that Trump was simply trying to downplay the virus. If he wanted schools open, he should have fought the pandemic more seriously and invested federal money to help make school buildings safer against the virus’s spread.

But the second paragraph is where the emphasis belongs and the blame for school closures lies… especially the last bold-faced phrase.

Without funding to make the buildings safer, how could large urban districts open SOME schools while leaving others closed? Would NYC, for example, close ONLY those schools with poor ventilation? Would they limit attendance ONLY in those schools whose class sizes warranted split shifts? Would they open without being able to test teachers and students for the coronavirus? Would they limit attendance to ONLY elementary schools? These are tough questions that urban districts face and they are indicative of the inequities baked into our public education. Do districts serving affluent children have schools with poor ventilation? With limited resources for medical support?

In his contest between European countries and ours Kristof underscores the primary difference in our culture and theirs:

Yet today, while we all want in-classroom instruction, the practical question is whether to operate schools that don’t have optimal ventilation and other protections. The United States has answered by shuttering many schools and turning to remote learning even as many businesses have stayed open or reopened. Much of Europe pursued the opposite route, closing pubs and restaurants but doing everything possible to keep schools operating — and the evidence suggests that Europe has the smarter approach.

In the United States funds flowed to businesses to retain jobs… but our Senate is intent on limiting any funds for state or local governments. And the notion that those funds might be used for something other than schools, something like shoring up pension funds, could easily be mitigated by targeting them for that expenses associated with fighting the pandemic.

To his credit, Kristof continues to hammer away at the impact of inequitable school funding on the lives of children raised in poverty… but by making this into a partisan issue he’s reinforcing the President’s and the GOP’s talking points and undercutting the wrongheadedness of their approach— which is to put business above everything else.

%d bloggers like this: