Home > Uncategorized > COVID Contributes to Outmigration, Distrust in Government, Anti-Union Sentiment. Bottom Line Question is “How Much Risk is Too Much?”

COVID Contributes to Outmigration, Distrust in Government, Anti-Union Sentiment. Bottom Line Question is “How Much Risk is Too Much?”

March 1, 2021

Dana Goldstein’s NYTimes article describing the plight of public education in Philadelphia highlights three consequences that are emerging as school closures in that region approach their one year anniversary: outmigration of blacks to the south where public schools are open and relatively robust in their offerings compared to those in Philadelphia; an emerging distrust of government in general as different districts draw different conclusions from the same evidence; and an emerging opposition to unions whose cautious stances to re-opening are at loggerheads with those of a sizable minority of parents. Ms. Goldstein does a good job of teasing out these consequences without naming them as explicitly as my lengthy first sentence. She also touches on one of the underlying problems Philadelphia faces: the neglect of the facilities that leads to poor air quality that, in turn, makes it difficult for schools to assure safety for their staff or their students. Two paragraphs describe the mixed reaction of parents to this reality:

Priscilla Lo, an advertising executive and mother of an 11-year-old, founded a Facebook group called Philadelphians for Open Schools… questioned the Philadelphia teachers’ union’s demand that the district improve school ventilation before reopening. She noted that her husband, a doctor, had been treating Covid patients and taking the subway to work throughout the pandemic, and that living with risk was an unfortunate reality.

But across town, Aquene Tyler, the hair stylist and a graduate of the local public schools, said she did not blame the union for holding up the return to in-person learning that her children need; rather, she faulted the city for years of neglect of aging school buildings. “I feel like the school district has failed them,” she said of her children — a failure she hopes to leave behind with her family’s move to Florida.

Embedded in Ms. Lo’s reaction to the union’s stance that schools need to be “safe” is the underlying question we ALL face as we emerge from the pandemic: how much risk are we each willing to accept and should the mandates developed in response to COVID be dictated by the most risk averse subset of the population? Libertarians argue that those who are risk averse should self-quarantine and allow those who are willing to take risks to do so. Communitarians argue that since we all must pull together we should make certain that the world is safe for those who are most at risk before we abandon strictures. Politicians— from US Senators and House members down to local school boards, have to make decisions on how best to proceed. With 500,000 in their graves as a result of the pandemic so far and no REAL clarity on whether herd immunity is achievable in the coming months the question of risk will continue indefinitely.

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