Posts Tagged ‘legislation’

Second Wave of Bad Economic News for States and Schools is Inevitable

August 3, 2020 Leave a comment

NPR has aggregated information on state revenues for the second quarter of the year… at it isn’t a pretty picture! On average state revenues are down 29% and several states have already started to make cuts and announce layoffs in anticipation of even worse news in the future. Meanwhile Congress remains at an impasse with the GOP and the President dead set against “bailing out” the state and local governments while propping up private corporations who are losing revenue because of the pandemic.

Huge Gap in Reopening Decisions for the Rich vs Minorities

August 3, 2020 Leave a comment

I read two articles this morning that underscore the vast difference between the rich and minorities… and I feel a knot in my stomach even now as I write this analysis.

Hardy Murphy, a retired superintendent who now teaches at IUPUI, wrote an op ed for The National Interest describes the condition of the schools minority students will attend should their parents decide to send them… and it is unsurprisingly appalling. He writes:

Local, state and federal officials wrangle over how to make schools safe, with concern over how to sufficiently disinfect and ventilate schools. But for low-income students, their teachers and families, returning to school is a more risky proposition due to the age and condition of the buildings to which they would return.

In a 2018 report to Congress, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that “low income students and students of color are often relegated to low-quality school facilities” that lack “physical maintenance.” This can “negatively impact a student’s health,” the commission concluded.

Mr. Hardy describes why this is so, and his conclusions will be no surprise to readers of this blog: insufficient funding for school repairs; unequal distribution of those scarce funds with most going to school districts who can afford the local match required to complete construction projects; and the need to spend scarce dollars for public education in needy districts on staff and instructional supplies before spending it on buildings. He concludes his essay with this:

The Brown v. Board of Education ruling of 1954 sent Black children into hostile environments as the nation struggled with its moral compass. It appears that Black and low-income students of color might soon be sent into school buildings, some of which date from before that decision. This time, whether it is happening with their best interests in mind is at best debatable.

But for minority parents, the “debate” is limited to whether or not they should send their child to a dilapidated school or keep them home where there are limited if any educational resources at which point they may have to lose their employment.

An article by Alex Williams in today’s NYTimes describes the choices affluent “New York parents of means” are taking as they seek “...less congested classrooms near their second — third? — homes.” While these “parents of means” likely live within walking distance of the dilapidated schools described by Mr. Hardy in his article, they are weighing whether to send their children to schools in the districts where their second homes are located: the Hamptons and Upstate towns along the Hudson River. Or they might do like Nora Morales who:

…recently decided not to plunk down a small fortune for their children’s private school, Lycée Francais de New York, this fall.

Instead, they moved up to their weekend house on 176 rustic acres near Elizaville, N.Y. in the Hudson Valley and plan to home-school their children, using a portion of the money they saved on private school for a part-time private tutor to help out.

The discrepancy between the decisions minority and poverty stricken parents face as compared to those faced by “parents of means” is not lost on Mr. Williams:

The exodus of wealthy families from the city comes at a moment that is fraught socially and politically. The rich have access to multiple educational options, including at-home “pandemic pods”with private tutors, or in the case of Avenues, personal mentors and instruction in 50 languages, including Punjabi and Swahili. Children from low-income homes, meanwhile, sometimes lack laptops and internet access needed for remote learning, and may get less funding as the children of affluent parents abandon the public school system.

To pretend that we live in a nation where everyone gets an equal opportunity for success today is delusional. To believe that things will be better if states and local governments do not get more federal funding is even crazier. And to not use the opportunity presented by the pandemic funds to upgrade dilapidated schools is a monumental oversight.

Getting a Haircut and Reopening School

July 17, 2020 Comments off

Like many who have quarantined themselves, I allowed my hair to grow at the outset of the pandemic despite the fact that I was due for one in late March. Initially I could not have gotten a haircut even if I wanted one because the salon I go to was closed due to a mandate from the Governor. In mid-May, the salon was allowed to reopen but only if it met certain conditions: customers needed to be six feet apart; the lounge for waiting customers would be closed; customers would have their temperature taken and answer health related questions before entering; every surface in the salon would be thoroughly sanitized; the chairs and surfaces adjoining the chairs where one’s hair was cut needed to be sanitized between customers; and the customers would need to wear masks. The state DID provide the salons with personal protective equipment to use and to offer to customers. Given all the hassles associated with getting my haircut and I decided to wait a few weeks more, assuming the restrictions would lift as the pandemic subsided. Weeks passed and it became clearer and clearer that the pandemic was not going away and clearer and clearer that even though salons were among the more hazardous venues I needed a haircut to shed five months of growth.

When I called for an appointment, the receptionist described their new entry process, asking for my cell phone number so she could text me when there was sufficient space for me to enter the salon. She also described the protocols for customers noting that if I had a temperature or any COVID symptoms I would be turned away. When I entered the salon, it was noticeably austere. The comfortable chairs and welcoming cup of coffee and tray of cookies were gone as were roughly half of the customers. The person who regularly cuts my hair was upbeat and cheerful and I left with a haircut that could last another five months if need be, but it was not the same atmosphere as usual.

I am describing this to offer a comparison to the reopening of a salon to the pending reopening of schools. Unlike the salons, the school openings in New Hampshire are governed by “guidelines” that are locally determined as opposed to strict mandates that are enforced. Unlike the salons, schools are not being provided with PPEs for staff or “customers” and, unlike salons, there is no mandate for limiting the number of people in a confined space or taking the temperatures of those who enter.

Instead of issuing enforceable regulations like he did for salons and restaurants and other businesses that require close contact between people, Governor Sununu has offered “guidance” for the reopening of schools. This is not an accident… for if the state issued a mandate to schools they would have to provide the resources for them to implement that mandate. Better to allow “local control” than to provide the safeguards teachers, students, and parents need for a safe reopening of schools. Live Free or Die was never a more apt slogan for NH.

Watch across the country as schools reopen… I daresay that there will be few regulations put in place and few decisions that are made in Statehouses: the decisions will all be shoved down to the lowest level possible in an effort to avoid funding state-imposed or federally imposed mandates.