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Posts Tagged ‘Governance’

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 Leave a comment

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?”

 

President’s Preposterous Pandemic Plan Mandates States to Pay, Prays for Hurricanes to Stay Away

August 10, 2020 Leave a comment

The President’s “plan” for getting the economy on track is, according to scholars, probably illegal and according to economists far too little. Politically, it can only work if ALL States are willing to come up with billions of dollars and if the hurricanes miraculously avoid the southern states that provide the basis for the President’s support. For public education, the plan is a disaster.

The problem for public schools, which most readers have already figured out, is that in order to provide the $400/week of supplemental assistance for the balance of the year for those individuals who cannot find work the States must find $100/week from their coffers and the FEMA funds used for hurricane relief have to be devoted to provide the $300/week balance unemployment. The economic advisors to the President say the states should be able to come up with money fairly easily because, for the most part, they haven’t spend all of the money they were given in the first round of stimulus funding. To which SOME Governor other than NYS’s Cuomo needs to say: “Of course we haven’t spent that money! We budgeted it so that we could make it to the end of the year and hoped to use it to HELP us backfill the revenues we are losing and the additional money we will need to spend on schools to keep them afloat!”

The States and local governments need money. Period. The GOP and President want to take it away. End of Report.

The states lost revenue to the pandemic, they’ve incurred added costs because of the pandemic, and they can only operate with a balanced budget. These revenue losses were not their fault, they were completely unforeseen. And the State’s “failure” to spend the all the money provided thus far is evidence of sound fiscal planning and forward thinking. But we know from their track record that neither the GOP nor the President want the State and local governments to have the funds they need. Quite the opposite: the GOP’s 2017 tax cut included a provision that effectively penalizes states for offering decent wages and benefits to their employees, services to their voters, and a stronger safety net to those in need than the federal government offers.  And now, as States face daunting deficits because of the revenues lost to the pandemic, face increased costs to open schools due to the pandemic, and increased costs to operate all of their administrative offices due to the pandemic, the federal government, the only level of government that can generate funds, the President is mandating that they pay millions to the Federal government to augment a monthly payment that is 33% less than what is currently offered.

Here’s the question for the GOP and the President: what happens when the STATES and local school districts start laying of personnel to balance the budgets raided by the President? Who will pay THAT bill?

I Support the Unions’ Demands for Clear Medical Guidelines… BUT… Unions Need to Smell the Coffee

July 30, 2020 Leave a comment

Today’s NYTimes features an article by Dana Goldstein and Eliza Shapiro titled “Teachers are Wary of Returning to Class AND Online Instruction Too”. My initial reaction to this was captured in a couple of paragraphs in the middle of the article. They read:

But now, with the economy sputtering and many parents struggling to balance work and child care while overseeing remote learning, teachers who resist demands to appear over video or to work in classrooms where it is considered safe risk fraying those hard-won bonds.

Some critics see teachers’ unions as trying to have it both ways: reluctant to return to classrooms, but also resistant in some districts to providing a full day of remote school via tools like live video — the kind of interactive, online instruction that many parents say their children need after watching them flounder in the spring.

Despite working for 35 years as a public school administrator, I do not see myself as a critic of unions. I believe they serve an important role in ensuring that teachers are shielded from “small p” politics that exist on some school boards and many communities and provide decent wages and working conditions for employees who would otherwise be subjected to neither. I DO have a concern, though, that the teachers’ union leadership is missing a golden opportunity to assume some kind of co-leadership role on how best to provide instruction in this time of pandemic and an even greater opportunity to work collaboratively with parents to devise a mechanism for meeting the needs of children and parents during these trying times. At the VERY least, accomplishing a different means of providing instruction will require a different approach to teaching than the “traditional face-to-face” method OR the failed remote learning that occurred in the wake of the school closures in March.

My advice to teachers unions: wake up and smell the coffee! If YOU and the administrators do not figure out how to provide an alternative for kids, resourceful parents will do so on their own and those same parents will not be showing up at the next referendum vote or budget vote… nor will they be eager to help you secure more money for schools… for they will abandon them in their child’s time of need and will be resentful of you for trying to have it both ways.