Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Miseducation Edition


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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45 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “What is the point of lower education?” is one of the fun questions we explore from time to time.

    There are parts of town where the answer is “college prep” and there are parts of town where the answer is “networking with future business partners”. The answer “day care” showed up for yet another part of town.

    I failed to appreciate that the primary function is day care. It’s just that different parts of town have other stuff bundled in with that.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      Jeffco is the second largest school district in Colorado (by student count) and #37 in the nation. It spans everything from rural mountain areas to dense suburbs, rich to poor. The district has announced that preK through fifth grade will be 100% in-person starting as regularly planned on Aug 24. Best efforts will be made at masks and social distancing, although how well the kids can manage remains to be seen. Junior- and senior-high plans are yet to be announced. I suspect the preK-to-fifth decision is a combination of day care and on-line is harder for the littles.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

        This is kind of what I refer to below. How successful Jeffco is will depend on expectations. If someone is going to consider it a massive failure the moment a 6-year-old’s mask slips below their nose, well, it is destined to fail. If we’re going to consider it a success if no one contracts a severe case of the disease while in the school building, I think there is a pretty good chance they realize it.

        I’ve heard a similar idea being bandied about in my town, with the possibility of spreading the young ones out across the 9+ district school buildings to allow for smaller groupings while keeping middle and upper on remote.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

          I read the school district’s description as “we’re going to do our best but they’re little kids.” They emphasize that there’s a pure online option for parents who think the arrangements are inadequate.

          My wife and I had planned to move this year to be closer to the granddaughters and downsize some. For personal reasons we decided to go ahead with it even though it puts us in contact with more people/places than if we stayed put. People have been quite good about masks where it’s feasible (I didn’t ask the guys doing heavy outside work to wear masks). The rules at homes being shown include masks, gloves, and booties. The place we picked will be 2.3 miles from the granddaughters. Granddaughter #1 will be in first grade this year. For the same reasons that we went ahead with the move this year, we’ll be getting more exposure from her.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

      It is primarily child care. Good schools have additional benefits as well, but at the end of the day, it’s school, camp, or WAAAAAAAY too much screen time.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    1. Re: School

    This is one area where the United States is not benefited by a highly decentralized government system that allows for a lot of local control. Schools are not the only ones with this issue. California has 58 Superior Courts (one county=one superior court) and 58 ways of handling COVID. Some courts have gone entirely remote. Others are saying “hell no, we are open.” We have a statewide judicial council which created emergency orders and procedures.

    Hell, you still have a lot of lawyers (and not necessarily old-timers) who are really resistant to deposition via zoom. Others try to use it to their advantage.

    School from K-grad school is going to be chaotic and a mess. It is clear that a lot of state governments are caught between a rock and a hard place. A lot of parents would probably revolt if school does not open in the fall. But the officials also do not want a horrible wave and to close things down again.

    There is no clear leadership from President Syphilis so things suck.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Most non-detained immigration courts are closed but a few started to open in July. The DOJ keeps extending the closing date because many Immigration Judges and DHS lawyers are in a fight over safety with them. They don’t want to get infected. Since communication is slow and inconsistent, lawyers have no idea what cases to prep for.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “The American education system is about to have a stress test, one that strips all the buzzwords and preconceived notions away by the brutal reality of a virus that doesn’t play by the rules the carefully constructed leviathan of professional education in America operates on. Administrators that make far more than the actual teachers will suddenly be in the spotlight like never before. Add the amount of “pass the blame” and “cover your ass” when the initial plans in a fluid environment fall short, and politicians, teachers unions, and pick-your-choice-of-educational-groups will be playing musical chairs to not get the blame.

    Meanwhile, the kids and the parents are left stuck. Nothing crosses ideological lines like messing with someone’s livelihood or their kids. The coming back-to-school apocalypse is going to uniquely do both at the same time for a huge chunk of Americans.”

    As both a teacher and a parent, this is a really interesting perspective that I hadn’t considered. I had to reflect more on it but I appreciate an opportunity to think differently about something I’ve considered from so many angles already.

    I do think there is a chance… at least in certain pockets of the education leviathan… that things just sort of work. They may not be perceived as working, especially by those who disagree with the decisions being made, but kids and teachers tend to be highly adaptable. Well, kids are pretty inherently adaptable and any teacher worth their stripes has some adaptability as well. I envision at least some places where everyone does their best and no one does perfectly but everyone doing their best is enough to make things work enough that nothing catastrophic happens. Which, to be honest, is how schools tend to work even in the best of times: enough people doing enough to get enough done.

    I don’t know if that is a compliment or a criticism… :-/Report

  4. Avatar Philip H says:

    with competent national leadership and a willingness to compromise and spread resources we might be in a different space. The back to school starts down south in August and gets full steam right after Labor Day. That will be about the time the predicted eviction tsunami will also be rolling, because we can’t use the power of government to take care of our citizens apparently. With super spreader events like political conventions and the Labor Day Weekend still forthcoming, I will be very pleasantly surprised if we aren’t at least partially locked down again by Halloween.

    And then there’s the election this November for which many of the states calling masks and testing “horsesh!t” are not making voting by mail easier.

    Steve Bannon wanted to burn down America so his dark basement death pron fantasies of a reborn nation could come true.

    He may be about to get his wish.

    God help us all.Report

  5. Unwillingness to take simple precautions like wearing a damn mask has turned us into a pariah nation. The EU won’t allow American visitors. Mexico is closing *their* border with *us*. That this has become a partisan issue is insane. That it’s the Trump/QAnon/GOP side that melds ignorance, paranoia, and idiot conspiracy theories (Bill Gates, George Soros, and Dr. Fauci!) into death cult behavior is unsurprising.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I’m completely surprised, even though I shouldn’t be, that we decided to deal with K-12 schooling by crossing our figures and hoping for the best. Especially when it was clear that Trump was going to treat Covid-19 as a public relations event and something that if you ignore it hard enough will go away rather than a public health emergency. We really dropped the ball on this aspect of Covid-19, along with everything else.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Speaking of education, ICE just can’t help themselves. They have determined that even if it was because of Covid-19, entirely online classes do not count for F-1 and M-1 visas. So if a student is here on an F-1 visa and their school decides to go online for the fall semester, that doesn’t count and they need to leave. Trump just can’t resist being an asshole to immigrants. They have to do so whenever possible.Report

  8. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Why on earth is the last portion of Douglass’ speech controversial? He’s not calling for one-world government, he’s not calling for global anarchy. I guess you could read that into the speech, if you wanted to. But he’s calling for global liberation of all people, a putting-down of arms, and a recognition of the ultimate brotherhood of all mankind. Who on earth could be opposed to that?

    Maybe you don’t think the world described in John Lennon’s “Imagine” is particularly practical. Okay, fine. But it’s still a beautiful, idealistic vision of what the world might be even if you don’t think it’s achievable. So I don’t understand the undercurrent of hate aimed at “Imagine” either.Report

  9. Avatar JS says:

    I foresee school openings as follows, if COVID-19 is still happily percolating away looking for any opening to get back into community spread. And since contact tracing seems to be, like metric, something distinctly unAmerican and thus to be ignored, I suspect it will be.

    First few weeks of school: Social distancing and masks are a joke. Little kids can’t do it, older one’s do it half-heartedly and it all flies out the window in the chaos between classes and when socializing during lunch and before/after school, and it’s impossible to social distance 30 kids in a classroom unless that classroom is the gym. And guess what, school’s generally just have the one. You can’t triple your teachers because, well, where would you put them? Schools aren’t also not built for triple the students they currently have.

    Second month of school: COVID-19 begins to spread. Kids get sick which — despite some claims — is not exactly a great thing for them. Moreover, teachers start to get sick.

    Third month: Parents are getting sick — turns out even if kids immune system laughs at this illness (it doesn’t), they actually do live with their parents. More teachers are sick — and subs are in short supply, forcing more students into each remaining classroom. Worsening the problem. Worst yet, half the teachers from the first wave are still recovering — recoveries which might last months.

    Fourth month: We close schools, because too many teachers are sick, too many kids are sick, too many parents are sick, as are grandparents and random people who had the misfortune of being around these little disease vectors.

    Net result: We’re back to distance learning, except we got a lot of people sick and some unfortunately died. Millions and millions in healthcare bills, long-term and permanent health damage, and for what — a month of classroom instruction, and then two months of half-assed instructions as staff and parents deteriorated and students got sick?

    Congratulations — a massive cluster of COVID-19 for absolutely no reason, which did nothing for children’s education. Hooray.

    The secret that dare not be spoken, that no state wants to admit? They cannot open schools with COVID-19 in community spread, and it’s clear that at least half the nation will still be struggling with community spread in September.

    But if you say that out loud, people get pissed. better to put it off.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to JS says:

      What do you base this prediction on?

      What you describe is something we haven’t really seen anywhere that Covid has hit.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy says:

        Israel reopened schools fairly early and has a bunch of outbreaks related to this I believe. I also think there was an outbreak traced back to a pre-school in Texas. On the other hand, students in Asia where masks so now you get into a cultural/national character question. Are there going to be parts of the U.S. where mask wearing is taken more seriously among teachers and students than others? Probably.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kazzy says:

        Net result: We’re back to distance learning, except we got a lot of people sick and some unfortunately died. Millions and millions in healthcare bills, long-term and permanent health damage, and for what — a month of classroom instruction, and then two months of half-assed instructions as staff and parents deteriorated and students got sick?

        Congratulations — a massive cluster of COVID-19 for absolutely no reason, which did nothing for children’s education. Hooray.

        The secret that dare not be spoken, that no state wants to admit? They cannot open schools with COVID-19 in community spread, and it’s clear that at least half the nation will still be struggling with community spread in September.

        He’s right. Mississippi wants to run headlong down this path. Nearly every school district here – and all the private schools that are public about it) will have traditional opening with full classes, little social distancing and only reliance on kids to keep masks on as a hope to keep things down. Our state health officer is getting publicly more livid by the day about the lack of voluntary cooperation, but the Governor continues to tout the President’s lines on this because he thinks its politically expedient to do so.

        Lots more people are going to get sick and lots more are going to die because we as a nation keep picking corporate profits over people. And now we are going to use our kids as the vectors of that sickness because we can’t be arsed to acre about anyone we aren’t making money for (or off of).

        COVID will kill America figuratively as well as literally.Report

      • Avatar JS in reply to Kazzy says:

        Basic knowledge of how schools operate, how kids operate, and how disease spreads.

        Schools are not designed for social distancing. Ever seen a hallway between classes? Wall to wall students. Classrooms hold 25+ students, and you cannot space 25 students six feet apart and fit them into existing classrooms. You can’t reduce class sizes in half, because you’d need twice as many teachers and twice as many rooms — and those don’t exist.

        Younger students are incapable of maintaining masks, handwashing, and social distancing. I’m sorry, 8 year old’s are just not capable of that. Older students can understand it intellectually, but are just incapable of doing it — I saw a “social distanced” graduation. Everyone was distanced — until the second it ended, when it turned into a sea of suddenly maskless 18 year olds hugging and running from group to group, as all the adults — limited attendence and carefully staged by the school to avoid lines leading in — did the SAME THING.

        The closest I’ve seen to an actual “Let’s acknowledge the resources and problems” involved rotating a third of the school through at a time (1/3 one day, the next 1/3 the next day, so on), so you’d have teachers teaching to 1/3 full classrooms for face-to-face instruction.

        Of course, teachers and staff are still working indoors in close proximity to kids who will not properly social distance and will have to be constantly nagged into masks, and an infection WILL spread to staff — but at least it’s physically possible to socially distance and technically possible you won’t cause an outbreak.

        And of course, that still means your kid is home 2 days out of every 3, and is distance learning 2 days out of every 3. The risk has been somewhat mitigated, but are parents actually going to be any happier? Will students learn all that much better?Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to JS says:

          FYI: Kazzy is a teacherReport

          • Avatar JS in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            I know. Kazzy asked what I based it on. That was it. I laid out my thinking.

            Most teachers I know view the idea of returning to school pre-vaccine with horror — and their worries are pretty much what I just said.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to JS says:

              I will simply say that
              A) There are many assumptions baked into your take, not all of them supported by any reliable science
              B) We must know different teachersReport

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Teacher opinion seems to be all over the place. A series of polls on Twitter yielded no majorities except for remote learning for high school. That corresponds with my somewhat limited experience.

                I find JS’s scenario credible but not inevitable. My prediction was and is that school will commence in person and full-time for most schools in all fifty states. A lot of kids won’t go. Attempts at hybrid and remote are going to fall apart in red state and blue as the lockdown did. If it gets as bad as JS says… then yeah they’re going to close back up again.

                It’s going to be a mess no matter what for a variety of reasons with a lot of blame to go around.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                Well… yes. He said “most” react with “horror.” You, like I, am seeing a much wider range.

                I think there is a way to open schools safely in areas with reduced spread.

                Will that happen? Remains to be seen. Nothing is inevitable.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

                Nothing is inevitable.

                Death, taxes, and Trump making things worse.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kazzy says:

                I think there is a way to open schools safely in areas with reduced spread.

                There are few areas that meet even the general idea of this, much less the practicality of this. Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Arizona – all seem to be barreling headlong into full in person reopening even as case counts soar. The Superintendent in Miami-Dade at least had the decency to say he wouldn’t reopen if things don’t improve – but that sets up a pointed and costly legal battle over who controls schools.

                I get your concern for your kids – our kids teachers feel the same way. And there are real issues that need addressing here in terms of social, psychological and educational development – to say nothing of economic support. But much of the nation is only really beginning to feel the impacts of this and is not yet willing to admit how bad it can be. Hell – the WHO is only now willing to say that airborne transmission is a thing.

                But I worry for you and your colleagues. I worry for the kids. And I remain hot bloodedly angry that our “leaders” care more about their perception and ratings then actually doing something – even though a coordinated doing something is the thing that would allow many of them to remain in power.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Philip H says:

                I’m not wading into the politics of this.

                The AAP is “worried” about kids not returning to schools. See their statement here: https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

                I’m not saying every school should re-open tomorrow. What I’m saying is that there are ways to re-open schools that mitigate risk and which will shield our children from the immense harm they’re suffering as a result of school closures.

                Will we get there? I have no idea. But the assumption that it’s impossible — especially when that assumption is itself built on other assumptions not rooted in science — is simply wrong.

                Are you aware many daycares have remained open throughout, serving children of essential workers (themselves at higher risk of exposure) and to date there have been almost no cases of transmission within them?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                The transmission of this thing is weird. For instance, the Broadway actor who died recently. Real nasty case of it, but his wife and child, both of whom were in the same house as him while he was supposedly contagious and not quarantined, (TTBOMK) neither caught it, not do they show evidence of antibodies.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Indeed. My sons were with their mom from 4 days before symptoms through day 2 of symptoms. Never got sick. Negative anti body tests.

                They then spent 16 days with me. No illness. Negative antibody test.

                Weird indeed.Report

              • There’s statistical evidence that some part of the population is inherently resistant and that some part of the population is resistant due to prior exposure to other types of corona viruses, and that neither group shows Covid-specific antibodies.

                As a friend said recently, yet another example of just how little we actually know about how this bag of protein chemistry we call the human body actually works.Report

              • Avatar JS in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’m also in Texas. If you note, we’re having a bit of a COVID-19 problem at the moment.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to JS says:

                Indeed. I’m in NJ, work in NYC, and participate in a FB group of educators from around the world. Teacher feelings are all over the map (including the horror you state).Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

                The way I see it is, the kids ought to go to school but the teachers do remote learning, set up a computer with a projector at the front of the class and have the teacher Skype it in.Report

              • Avatar JS in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Fuck parents, I guess?

                It’s not like COVID-19 doesn’t spread between kids, or between kids and their parents.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to JS says:

                Well… There is some evidence the risk of spread from kids is much much lower.

                So it’s not “Fuck parents.” It’s “How do we balance risk and reward?”

                The alternative is “Fuck kids.” Sadly, that increasingly looks like the route we’re going.Report

  10. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    If you do not like Trump’s immigration policies please take sometime to fight them by posting your complaint about Trump’s proposed changes to asylum to the federal registry.Report

  1. July 20, 2020

    […] our last Harsh Your Mellow Monday we talked about the coming Edupocalypse that is about to befall ordinary life for parents and school-aged children. Since then, more and […]Report

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