Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Administrative Leadership’

Appalling Reality: COVID Cases Covered Up for Political Purposes

August 22, 2020 Comments off

Today’s NYTimes reports that in some school districts COVID-19 cases are not being reported to parents, presumably in the name of privacy… but ultimately in the name of politics. And, as a result, parents, teachers, and public health officials are distraught. As Times reporter Dan Levin writes:

As schools in parts of the country have reopened classrooms amid a still-raging pandemic, some districts have been open about coronavirus cases in their buildings. They send weekly — and in some cases, daily — reports to families and updating online dashboards with the latest positive test results and quarantine counts.

But others districts have been silent, sometimes citing privacy concerns to withhold information, to the dismay of some anxious parents, concerned educators and public health experts trying to combat the pandemic.

If schools don’t notify, it actually can make disease control more difficult,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “And it’s not like no one will know. Word will get out through a rumor mill. You don’t scare people by telling them what’s going on. You scare them by hiding information.”

What is particularly frustrating is that the ultimate rationale for withholding the information from teachers, parents, and students is not based on their health and well being or the health and well being of their communities: it’s based on politics at the state and national level.

In many places, reopening schools has taken on a distinctly partisan bent, with President Trump and Republican governors such as Ron DeSantis of Florida urging in-person instruction. A constant flow of information about positive cases in classrooms and quarantined students could hinder those efforts, experts said.

When schools have to shut down after students test positive, that doesn’t look good politically on governors and lawmakers who have advocated for opening up,” said Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida. “So the potential is there to hide behind privacy laws.

“There are definitely battle lines drawn, and the release of information can sway public opinion.”

After reading the article, I could only conclude that the administrators citing privacy laws as the rationale for withholding information about active cases in their schools are either misinformed or disingenuous. Indeed, the US Department of Education and Health Department issued statements clarifying that in a pandemic releasing such information was permitted and helpful in stopping the spread of the disease. And school districts in Florida are effectively discouraging remote learning by denying access to some advanced courses to those who opt out of in person attendance.

As noted repeatedly in this blog since facts about this disease became clearer over the course of the summer, reopening under the circumstances we face today with the pandemic makes no sense. Articles like this, which indicate that many districts are reopening with weak reporting protocols, underscore that stance. We will not be able to shake this pandemic until we uniformly and completely shut down for a more extended period than we have thus far. The disease cannot be wished away or denied.

 

At LEAST 97,000 Children Tested Positive for COVID in the last 2 Weeks of July. My Question Remains? Why Even Consider Opening

August 10, 2020 Comments off

Here’s the headline from the NYTimes latest coronavirus story:

Positive in Last 2 Weeks of July

I can hear the response now from the White House: “Well of COURSE they fond lots of positives! They did lots of tests and when you do lots of tests you find lots of positives!”

Meanwhile, school districts need to figure out whether to open, where the $$$ will come from to do so, and whether anyone will show up if they do. Parents, in the meantime, are in limbo waiting to see IF schools will open and, if they do, whether to send their children and, if they don’t, how to work from home or go to work if their children are not in school. Hobson’s choices all the way around.

My question from a week or so ago remains: “Why Even Consider Reopening?”

And that question should have even more traction now that it is clear that additional federal funding is highly unlikely…. and leads to another question: “Why spend any more money or any more time making reopening plans that require MORE spending when those plans may go out the window if COVID continues to spread in your school district?”

 

Trump Wants to Blame Teachers for Problem He Created

July 27, 2020 Comments off

Public school English teacher and author Anne Lutz Fernandez wrote an NBC editorial describing the blame game going on in Washington DC where President Trump is trying to shift the blame for the failure to open schools onto teachers. Ms. Fernandez patiently pushes back against this by noting that teachers are neither the heroes they were hailed as when they quickly adapted to remote learning nor the villains Mr. Trump is now making them out to be.

Ms. Fernandez understates what is going on. Mr. Trump and the GOP know that his base is fundamentally anti-intellectual and, as such, find teachers and especially good target. After all, teachers epitomize the educated class who continually point out how important education is and how it is the key to success. Unsuccessful students, they assert, will never be successful inline and that assertion echoes in the minds of every anti-intellectual be they economically successful or not.

But generic teachers are not nearly as fat a target as teachers’ unions… and it is the unions who are taking the blame even more than individual teachers. It is the union, after all, who protects the “bad apples” from being fired, the union that promotes the need for failsafe protection against COVID as a condition for returning to work, it is the union that wants teachers to continue being paid even if their courses and services are not being provided on line. And even parents who love their child’s teacher can be persuaded to feel antipathy toward the union… and if those parents are among the sizable minority who want schools reopened under any condition or among the majority who wish they didn’t have to ride heard over their unmotivated children having the union to blame depersonalizes the complicated issue of reopening and creates a “bad guy” everyone can agree is to blame.

Readers of this blog have, I hope, recall that I saw this one coming a while back… it didn’t take a lot of intuition or foresight to see that the GOP and the POTUS would be shifting the blame away from the ineptitude of the POTUS’ response to the pandemic to the usual suspects: teachers and people who try to avoid returning to work so they can collect undeserved welfare funds.

There is one thing I am dismayed over, however: the epidemiologists seemingly caved to the pressure from the POTUS and issued a set of mushy suggestions instead of guidelines or, better yet for decision makers, firm regulations. Had the CDC issued firm recommendations or regulations there would be only one debate on how best to open schools…. instead there are 13,000+ debates since virtually every governor has made the decision on whether to open or not one that local school boards can make… The buck on decision making gets passed… but the bucks from Washington seem to get lost….