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Posts Tagged ‘legislation’

Biden vs. Trump a No Brainer… But Biden MAY Be Better than ANY Democrat Save Bernie

July 6, 2020 Comments off

During the primaries I did not pay close attention to Joe Biden because I viewed him as complicit in the test-and-punish policies advocated by Barak Obama and Arne Duncan. Worse, from my perspective, I felt Biden’s record of compromising with his colleagues on civil rights issues made him less than desirable as compared to the Progressives on the ticket– most notably Bernie Sanders whose ideas seemed to bring Donald Trump’s racist and pro-business stances into the forefront.

But despite my misgivings, Joe Biden is the Democratic Party standard bearer and speeches by Biden and Trump this weekend make it abundantly evident that any teacher who supports Trump, like anyone outside the 99% who votes for him, is voting against their well-being. Here’s Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss’ take on the two speeches:

Former vice president Joe Biden told members of the largest teachers union in the country during a virtual event that their profession is “the most important” in the United States.

On Friday, the same day President Trump said America’s public schools teach students “to hate their own country,” Biden addressed members of the National Education Association at its annual Representative Assembly and answered a few questions as he detailed his vision for education. (You can watch the video of the event below.)

“You are, and I’m not joking about this, you are the most important profession in the United States,” Biden said. “You are the ones that … give these kids wings. You give them confidence. You let them believe in themselves. You equip them.

“And I promise you, you will never find in American history a president who is more teacher-centric and more supportive of teachers than me.”

The notion that public school teach students “to hate their own country” is clearly untrue, but speaking untruths is nothing new for our President nor is creating an “other” category. Being more teacher-centric than any President in American history is, alas, a low bar… but Biden’s speech offered some specific ideas on how he would operate if he were elected:

Biden has said that as president he would, among other things, triple federal funding for high-poverty schools, increase teachers’ salaries and ban for-profit charter schools. He has also expressed opposition to standardized testing.

That sounds like a good platform to me… far better than the President’s efforts to make public teachers into political messengers of anti-Americanism.

NYTimes AGAIN Wants to Keep 1920s Model in Place at a High Cost

July 1, 2020 Comments off

The NYTimes op ed writers are intent on maintaining the status quo in public schools even if the costs are dauntingly high. Today’s editorial page features an article by epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo and pediatrician Joshua Sharfstein suggesting that the government should prioritize the reopening of schools over the reopening of bars, gyms and health clubs. That I agree on! But then the two doctors offer a list of actions that should be funded, action that will result in astronomical short term costs with no long term pay-off and no changes whatsoever the the current age-based grade leveling that is the basis for schooling today. Oh, and as you read the ideas the doctors list it should be readily evident that the ideas are wildly impractical as well given the facilities available, the technology available, the staffing available, the buses and vans available, and the supply of bus drivers. Among the costly and impractical ideas the doctors promote are:

  • finding other buildings and space where they could expand (classroom space)” by renting tents, leasing space in other buildings,
  • Checking students and staff for symptoms daily (which will require more staff)
  • Requiring frequent hand washing or the use hand sanitizer
  • Mandating the wearing of masks “for all who can wear them“, and providing “…extra masks…for students and staff members who do not bring their own.
  • Establishing in-school bubbles, “…small groups of students who will learn, eat lunch and have recess together” a creative solution that will result in the need for more space (see first bullet) AND more staff
  • Preparing for a rapid closure by “…using curriculums that can be rapidly adapted for online instruction” and, presumably, having the resources available to make this remote learning available to ALL students
  • Allow “families in households with much older relatives or people with health problems” to opt out of in school instruction and continue with remote education… oh… and presumably provide the necessary internet access and computers should those families require it.
  • Assign “older staff members or those with chronic medical conditions who want to be kept out of physical contact with students” to teach online classes for those students who remain at home, presuming, of course, that those older staff members WANT to offer remote instruction and are CAPABLE of offering it effectively… and there is a perfect match between the “older staff members” and the “opt out” students.
  • Instead of crowding students onto buses, “...consider car pools and van rides for children in their bubbles”, which would be done by increasing “…the number of buses in service and employing staggered start times to transport fewer children at once.” This assumes that bus and van purchases can be made quickly and qualified drivers are readily available…

The doctors DO realize that these ideas, there practicality notwithstanding, WILL cost money:

Each of these steps requires resources now. Congress has provided hundreds of billions of dollars of relief for small businesses, but early funding for schools has largely been spent on meals and laptops for remote learning. States should provide funding to school districts in advance of pending legislation in Congress that would provide $915 billion to state and local budgets.

We have a nation that is led by someone who questions medical advice, sees mandatory steps like wearing masks as an infringement on liberty, and doesn’t want to spend any money to “bail out” states and a Senate that appears willing to support him at every turn. Sorry, docs, I don’t think your ideas are going to get much traction… but opening bars, spas, and casinos?

Colorado Canary in a Coalmine: Cuts to Budget = Growing Demand for Choice

June 17, 2020 Comments off

The Colorado legislature just passed a budget for FY 21 that looks like a harbinger of what future state budgets will look like across the country… and what the future COULD hold if parents care only about their children. This Chalkbeat article by Erica Meltzer and Jason Gonzalez details the trade offs the Colorado legislators had to make in order to offset the $3.3 billion revenue shortfall… trade offs that resulted in “only” a billion dollar plus cut to schools, a cut that was deeper than the constitution allows but one that was completely unavoidable. This kind of cut sidelined many initiatives Colorado had launched only a year earlier, which is sad. But Luke Ragland of the conservative education advocacy group Ready Colorado believes the cuts could open the door for future legislation on choice:

….he predicted that a Republican education agenda focused on parent choice that didn’t make progress this year will become more urgent next year, as parents try to find a good education amid a checkerboard of in-person, online, and hybrid models.

I promise you right now that wealthy families will move to find the opportunities they need, whether that’s in person or a higher quality online experience,” he said. “Access for open enrollment becomes incredibly important because the stakes have been raised for families.”

This much is clear to me: if affluent parents do not support ALL schools by digging deeper in their pockets when cuts are necessary a vicious cycle will begin and public schools as we know them now will disappear. Unless voters believe that their taxes are raised to help needy neighbors the economic divide will worsen. The financial crisis created by the pandemic is creating an existential crisis not only for schools, but for democracy itself.