Archive for September, 2021

No One Filed a Suit When a Lone Child Allergic to Peanuts Denied Every Child in School PBJs… But Now Parents are Suing Because My Kid Doesn’t Like a Mask?

September 20, 2021 Leave a comment

Our local paper this morning featured an article from the Concord Monitor reporting that a group of parents from Merrimack NH are suing because their children are being forced to wear a mask. Maybe I’m not thinking clearly or logically… but… it strikes me that parents whose children are required to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid are no different that the parents whose children were required to avoid packing PB and J sandwiches because on the students in a classroom or— ins some cases a school— are allergic to peanuts. Such mandates often elicit compassionate reactions and, to the best of my knowledge, have never elicited lawsuits. It seems to me that the right to the good health and well-being of all children and adults in a school and in a neighborhood, region, state or nation override concerns about wearing a mask for a short term. . 

Categories: Essays

Texas Template Offers a Quick Path to Desegregation at Public Universities that Works for ALL: Admit the Top 10% from ALL High Schools to College

September 18, 2021 Leave a comment

An NYTimes article by Auburn graduate Drake Pooley in today’s paper describes a quick way to desegregate public Universities: admit the top 10% of each high school graduating class in the state to college:

We know how to bring about greater student body diversity, because some public universities have done it. When the University of Texas, Austin, started admitting the top 10 percent of every high school graduating class in the state in the late 1990s, it created pathways for schools in more historically disadvantaged communities to send students to that flagship university.

Over the next decade, the number of high schools in Texas whose graduates went there rose from 674 to 900. Once on campus, those students graduated at similar levels as all other students. This program increased earnings for these students with no significant harm to those who were “pushed out,” in terms of graduation rates and earnings, according to a 2020 working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

If such a plan were combined with an influx of federal funds specifically earmarked for need-based scholarships to colleges and junior colleges access to higher education would readily available even to those students attending public high schools in underfunded districts. 

Categories: Essays Tags: ,

This Just In: America Discovering that Non-Instructional Part-Time School Support Staff is Underpaid!

September 17, 2021 Leave a comment

Today’s NYTimes features a lengthy article by Giulia Heyward describing the uphill battle public schools are facing to fill jobs for non-instructional school support staff: bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and substitute teachers. Why? Their pay is low compared to the private sector; the work schedule precludes them working elsewhere– and in our economy low wage workers need to hold two jobs to make ends meet; and the working conditions put them in harms way during the pandemic making them risky. 

And who are folks blaming? The federal government for offering overly generous unemployment benefits! But, as is often the case, inconvenient facts don’t support this agreeable fantasy: 

Some employers hope that the end of federal unemployment benefits will push more people to apply for these positions. Ms. Groshen, the labor economist, does not think that most schools will see a big upswing in applicants.

“Some states ended unemployment benefits early, so there is already some research,” Ms. Groshen said. “And when you look at the studies, there was some effect in the market from unemployment ending, but it wasn’t very large.”

And a school bus trainer in NYS blamed school districts for underpaying bus drivers… as if the school districts somehow had oodles of money going to shareholders instead of paying for its workers. 

This just in: if you want a high quality work force in your schools you need to offer high pay, decent working conditions, and you might need to offer some kind of bonus to compensate for the necessarily unpredictable and inconvenient work schedule. And all of this means you’d need to raise taxes.