Everybody Gets an F

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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238 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    I’m so glad I don’t have kids and don’t have to worry about this. I hear enough of it from my teacher friends.

    But let’s be clear here RE Cuomo. ” Andrew Cuomo just gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention talking about what an awesome job he and his people did. He’s writing a book about everything he and New York did right.” Yeah, great job killing a boatload of elderly people by mandating that nursing homes take covid 19 cases. Some of my far left friends deny he did this and refuse to accept the facts when presented to them…….Report

    • Philip H in reply to Damon says:

      That was perhaps his worst screw-up, and it bears repeating whenever he rolls out his rosey assessments. Still, however, I think he recovered from that and then went on to make NY a better model of science based approaches to the pandemic.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Damon says:

      “mandating that nursing homes take covid 19 cases.”

      Where were those patients supposed to go?

      It’s not as though they were shoving intubated patients into the nursing-home lobbies and bouncing, these were people who’d got over the symptomatic period and no longer needed hospital care. Hospitals don’t have the staff or the facilities for continuing elder care; they’re for critical and immediate illness, and past that point they cannot provide the needed service.

      What was your proposed solution?Report

      • Damon in reply to DensityDuck says:

        So you’re good with shoving possibly still contagious people into a facility full of vulnerable people–the people most at risk of death? That’s the only option? That’s the BEST option? There are so many possible alternative options, I’m not even going to bother to mention one.

        I’m rolling my eye at this point.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Damon says:

          I think there were better options. New Mexico had the hospitals coordinate. Many could not keep covid patients that needed aggressive care, but could take in covid patients on the men. There were also a lot of hotels for them to quarantine in. Would have taken some forward thinking and some money, though, so Cuomo just put them back in the nursing homes.

          Having said that, it seems likely that it was not a significant contributor to nursing home spread. Patients become a lot less contagious after the first few days and by the time they were transferred they were not contagious. This is why the CDC says that you can return to work even without a negative test, as long as it’s been 10 days since the onset of symptoms. The nursing home spread was likely caused by personnel and visitors rather than returned covid-positives.

          Not much of this was known at the time, though, so it’s mostly a case of getting lucky.Report

          • George Turner in reply to Will Truman says:

            I would doubt that. If the returned patients weren’t the cause of the massive number of nursing home deaths in New York (and some of the other states that followed the same policy), then they shouldn’t have had vastly worse outcomes than the state’s that didn’t return Covid patients to nursing homes. Both types of states should have been at equal risk of Covid being brought in by health-care workers or visitors, so if it wasn’t the returned patients, there shouldn’t have been a large statistical difference between one return policy and the other.

            However, another aspect is that it’s possible that in addition to the presence of active Covid patients in the nursing homes, all of the health care workers involved in transporting those patients to the nursing homes had just be exposed to Covid in the hospital, and of course all the nursing home workers at the nursing home would then be exposed to Covid continuously by the Covid patients in the nursing home.

            I mean, if you moved small pox patients into nursing homes, you shouldn’t have to wonder why the nursing homes are having smallpox outbreaks.Report

            • 1) There are many reasons for the different outcomes, especially the sheer degree of spread*, hospital capacity overload, and being low on the learning curve of how to effectively treat cases.

              New York wasn’t the only state that returned Covid patients to nursing homes (more states than not were doing it, in fact). They were the only state to get hit as hard as they did. So it’s more fruitful to look at other unique characteristics.

              That infection is rare after the first few days is not a controversial view or applied specifically to nursing home cases. It is the official CDC position recognized by hospitals across the country.

              * – Many, many more New Yorkers were infected than we know because of the lack of testing capacity. So even statistics like survival rate are not instructive because the denominator is artificially low.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Damon says:

          “There are so many possible alternative options, I’m not even going to bother to mention one.”

          You have a whole comments section and you can post here as many times as you like. Go. Go. According to you there’s lots and lots of choices. Pick one.

          I’ve proposed a plausible reason why hospitals can’t just keep the patients there forever, why they might send them back to the senior-living facilities they’d come from. You can’t even think of a reason why not beyond waving your hands and gibbering “but the rona, but the rona!” Do better, dude. Address the issue.Report

          • Damon in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Will already did. That’s the beauty of a comment section. Someone will take up the baton if they chose, and likely has a more interesting comment that drives the convo forward…besides…i’m lazy and really should be working. 🙂Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to Damon says:

              “Will already did.”

              Imagine if you’d done it yourself, like an actual functioning adult, instead of angrily declaring that you didn’t need to and then proudly taking credit for someone else having done it.Report

              • Damon in reply to DensityDuck says:

                So, you’ve descended to cheap shots? Color me not surprised. I fully admit I was being lazy, but really….someone has to spell out for you several of the many possible options? Yeah…I’m gonna stop before I say something impertinent and descend to your level. This site used to be such a nice community…..Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Damon says:

                Just in case you forgot, this is what you posted:

                “So you’re good with shoving possibly still contagious people into a facility full of vulnerable people–the people most at risk of death? That’s the only option? That’s the BEST option? There are so many possible alternative options, I’m not even going to bother to mention one. I’m rolling my eye at this point.”

                You called the tune, hoss, I’m just playin’ counterpoint.Report

      • Anthony in reply to DensityDuck says:

        California managed to do *much* better, despite having twice the population, and similar issues with access to nursing homes and other elderly care facilities.Report

  2. Oscar Gordon says:

    Agree this has been a shite show all around. We can afford to keep Bug home and manage remote learning, unless work calls us back into the office.

    I am getting increasingly annoyed at how people are unwilling to accept any risk themselves, but happily accept all kinds of risk to others.Report

  3. Philip H says:

    In our County in Mississippi, we have 5 public school districts, plus the Parochial Catholic schools (who operate as a district across the Diocese), and another half dozen religiously based private schools. Schools started August 6th.

    Every one of them has taken a different approach. All have resumed some form of in person instruction – only one (Longbeach School District) took the alternating day approach to lowering class size. There is optional remote learning available – most of the districts asked you to commit a whole semester; parochial schools are doing it by 9 week grading period. The State Superintendent claims that local districts are using their last round of COVID stimulus money to by basic laptops and hot spots for students who lack them, but those purchases are not going to be executed for most of the first semester.

    And its been bumpy. Hotspots have flared up at the local public high schools, since apparently highschoolers can’t social distance or keep their masks on. And state wide we have something like 2000 public school students and about 400 teachers in various stages of quarantine for exposure.

    We chose to keep our kids home -both for our family’s general safety and to lower the load of potential vectors running around their school. I’m firmly convinced, base don our local trends, that Mississippi will declare a failure in early September and send everyone home again.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    Part of the problem is that Homeschooling is unfashionable. It’s what religious people who want to teach their 8 children about Jesus Riding Dinosaurs do. It’s not that sending your kid to a “real” school is fashionable, mind… we reserve that status for “sending your kid to Exeter”. But sending your kid to a “real” school avoids being unfashionable.

    A million years ago, I wanted to explore the whole “what do we want from Lower Education” thing and I came to the conclusion that, for the upper classes, lower education was about college prep and networking, for the middle classes, it was about college prep, and for the lower classes, it was day care.

    The Covid has taught me that, nope. The cake is Day Care for all but the upper upper class (and maybe some of the middle upper). It’s just that the middle classes get frosting (with upper middle and lower upper also getting sprinkles).

    The big problem is that we don’t know how to measure risk and we don’t know what “safe” means.

    Remember the 20 minutes that Everybody Knew That Masks Don’t Work? Getting into the weeds of that usually meant asking stuff like “so are you a fan of the germ theory of disease?” and hearing “well, they don’t work 100%”. And so it dealt with the issue of whether we can say whether something works if it’s not foolproof.

    Masks have proven, sadly, to not be foolproof.

    Medical-grade masks are best. Few people have access to medical-grade equipment under the current situation (maybe it’d be possible to have gotten your hands on some back in 2018, but not now). When it comes to what normal people have access to, N95 Masks are the best… but they are difficult to breathe through (if they’re easy to breathe through, you’re wearing them wrong). Cloth masks are not as effective as N95, but you can wear them for extended periods (the ones with the valves are worse than the ones without). Disposable paper masks aren’t as good as cloth masks. Bandanas aren’t as good as cloth masks. Gaiters might be worse than nothing.

    So if your demands for a mask be something like “it’s easy to breathe in them, they’re fashionable, and comfortable enough that you’ll forget you’re wearing them… OH AND THEY WON’T STEAM UP MY GLASSES” then you’re likely to get a mask that doesn’t protect you from Covid. And if you want a mask that protects you from Covid, you’re going to find yourself with a mask that is difficult to breathe in, isn’t particularly fashionable (though fashion *IS* catching up) and you ain’t never gonna forget you’re wearing it. Get used to steamy glasses.

    So, too, with schools.

    The stuff that will work best with kids will be uncomfortable. The stuff that is most comfortable will either not be particularly educational or will be more likely to result in getting exposed to the covid (and exposing others).

    What tradeoffs are you most willing to make? And the problem for the politicians and people otherwise in leadership:

    What tradeoffs are you willing to say you’re making and put it in writing?

    And we’re a society that is used to clawing its way around fighting for positional goods and we’ve been thrust into a situation where, no, this ain’t a positional good situation. It’s one that deals with absolute goods from the ground up. Our skills for navigating fashion aren’t going to be useful here.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Jaybird says:

      In the midst of the worst of the pandemic I had to go to the ear doctor (yes, this was an actual medical emergency) and in the waiting room, where I had to sit for an interminable length of time there were three little kids, a girl about 3 and brothers maybe 7 and 5. The little girl would not keep her mask on, kept pulling it off and saying “oopsie” while her mom, who was about 15 months pregnant, poor thing, wrestled it back onto her. The boys were running around everywhere with their masks slipping down. The older boy stuck both his fingers up his nostrils as far as they would go and then used those same fingers to adjust the FRONT of his mask back into place. Then, the younger one pushed the mask entirely into his mouth from the outside, after having touched a good number of surfaces mind you, and then pulled it back out again.

      So adults aside, little kids have a whole nother set of “this is not foolproof” going on. They can’t go to school with the masks and have them be in any way effective. It’s not gonna work and will simply end up being another vector of disease spread.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        Yep. And I can’t really blame the mom, I can’t really blame the kids, I can’t really blame the doctor.

        When I think about “what would solve this?”, my answer is something like “outdoor courtyard waiting rooms with PA systems that yell stuff like ‘DEVINE NEXT’ when it’s your turn to get your ear poked”.

        But that doesn’t work in summer, winter, or when it’s raining.

        Maybe make people sit in their cars.

        Every single solution sucks.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

          Another thing that would solve this is a better understanding of what, exactly, a positive COVID-19 test implies for your future.

          Like, it used to be that if you had a positive test it meant you really, really had the rona, and you were gonna be in a hospital bed with a tube down your throat pretty soon.

          Now, it seems more like “well stay home for a while, watch for more symptoms, if they’re severe go for treatment”.

          And maybe rona’ll end up being Just Something Kids Get, like Chicken Pox or The Measles. Or it’ll be one of those things like Mono or Meningitis, where kids can get it and it’s taken seriously, and one in a thousand of them gets it really bad and has permanent effects or even dies, but it’s not some kind of “someone tested positive, shut down the school for a month” thing.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

            It looks like a $10 saliva test just got approved. I have questions about turnaround time but it looks like there’s potential for high turnaround time too… so, at $10/test, you take it twice and get 99% confidence. (Take the test three times, I guess, if you get results that disagree.)

            About 80% of my complaints about this thing boil down to “we *STILL* don’t know anywhere near enough”.

            Getting a cheap, quick, NON-INVASIVE test out there would help us get closer to knowing… well, not enough. But we wouldn’t be in the pitch-black dark like we are now.Report

        • J_A in reply to Jaybird says:

          Maybe make people sit in their cars

          That’s what I did in my only medical visit in Houston since the start of the pandemic. We were sent an email were we were told that once we arrived to the parking lot we had to tit a link in that email, which generated a text in my phone, which I responded to confirm I was at the parking lot. I was told to wait until another text will tell me that they were ready for me. Which i did, in my car. With A/C (in the Houston sun)

          Smartphones are a great thing 🙂Report

          • Swami in reply to J_A says:

            I just went to a drive in concert last week. Loved it. You can honk rather than clap!Report

          • fillyjonk in reply to J_A says:

            I had a checkup in late July (which I moved up a week because I sprained my knee and I wanted to be sure it was likely just a sprain and not an “OMG go get an MRI NOW” emergency). They had me call the office when I pulled into the lot, a nurse came out and took my temperature and did a quick assessment of my general health (I was sure I’d be fine – I had been staying pretty strictly at home at that point). Then I was admitted to the empty waiting room and walked through to be seen. Doctor was masked and gloved (normally she is not! Not even in flu seasons past).

            It all seemed very safe and well run – there was a second door to go out so I didn’t have to pass the next patient coming in.

            And good news – it was just a sprain and with ice and a compression brace it cleared up in a week.

            I’m back to teaching now and while I’m slightly nervous, I also realize I’m 6′ from my students, we’re all masked, and my campus seems to have a contact tracing process that is….not terrible. (One of my students e-mailed me, he got exposed but hasn’t tested positive, but he was advised to quarantine just to be sure. The way we are teaching – or at least, the way I am teaching – he won’t wind up behind)Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

      I think, like with screen time, there is a temporary hold on how people feel about homeschooling. Either or both may actually endure somewhat. People got to try to it. Apparently more people than before are interested in doing so on a permanent basis. (Most of them won’t, but being open to it might represent a shift.)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        There is another dynamic out there too…

        There are parents out there who excel at Homeschooling. (They may not have known it until they tried it, but they do.)

        There are children out there who learn exceptionally well at Homeschooling. (They may not have known it until they tried it, but they do.)

        The small number of households who meet both these conditions will excel and excel *HARD* at this. They won’t be particularly representative of Homeschooling given the sheer number of combinations of parents/kids who don’t meet both conditions but they will not only be okay but they will actively thrive.

        And I wonder whether a handful will thrive so hard that it’ll change things.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to Jaybird says:

          Look at the green light of the chart in the OP… a lot of kids excelled with the cancellation of school. (They’re just the kids we are least worried about.)Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

            Oooooh, so maybe I was looking at it wrong.

            I should have been looking at the amount of clout held by the parents/kids… and it’s not the parents/kids who don’t have clout who excel who will change things.

            Maybe it’s the “privileged” parents/kids who went from excelling under the old system to stagnating under the current one that will stagnate so hard that it’ll change things…Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              Jeez. Gaming this out…

              Odds are, the high income people are going to notice and notice *HARD* that their kids were not thriving under the old system. It’s one thing when the difference is 1-2%. Hey, for 2%, I can take one for the team. 30%? HELL NO.

              And since they’re high-income, they have the wherewithal to maintain this sort of thing. Cozy up with other high-income parents and start a tutor pod. Or bubble. Podbubble.

              Sure, there will be a handful of high-incomes who don’t thrive, but given the sheer number of ones who did (LOOK AT THAT GREEN LINE AGAIN!), it’ll become low-status to make this *TOO* public.

              And so the debate will hinge on that red line.
              Which, as low-income, has a lot less clout to be able to change things.

              If we thought the so-called “Apartheid Schools” in San Fran were bad, get ready for them on steroids. Or on Covid. Whatever.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                “And since they’re high-income, they have the wherewithal to maintain this sort of thing.”

                That’s why it’s so important to pre-define it as Racist.

                I mean, one of the Fifteen Minute Main Characters On Twitter a couple weeks ago was that dude who said “I want a teacher for my kids and all the rest of the kids in my neighborhood, and anyone who finds me one gets a $3000 Uber Eats gift card,” and everyone jumped to be the first to angrily declare that this was the worst thing anyone could possibly do…Report

              • On a personal level, I have been quite angry with those who cancelled school getting really high-and-mighty about how parents deal with the fallout of that. I don’t know if I had to mention the Denver Public Schools thing in the post, but there was no way I was I was not going to mention that.

                You leave parents to fend for themselves, parents are going to fend for themselves. Did they think this was going to have egalitarian consequences?! That was the decision that was made, even if they felt it was the decision that they had to make.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

                People will love their own children more than they love the children of strangers.

                Maybe they’ll be willing to take a 1-2% hit here or there. “We live in a society” and all that.

                But when parents get told “you are now in charge of this”, a handful of them will say “okay… well, I’m in charge of this” and they will proceed to succeed. Indeed, they will exceed. Expectations, that is.

                And if your kid is stuck somewhere around where they would have been had school still been in session, the only thing you really can do at that point is point out how morally compromised the successful are.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                Although I remember the history of Busing, and how it was Racist to suggest that your kids ought to not be bused across town to the not-as-good high school you paid a lot of money to move away from.

                I mean, look at how much effort schools and administrations are spending to tell parents that they aren’t in charge of this; dress codes for remote school, threats of enforcing truancy laws, declaring that privacy and security regulations apply to your home office when the kid’s doing class there; these are not statements that the parents are in charge!Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to DensityDuck says:

                and by the way–yeah, there was absolutely racism involved in parents’ objections to busing, but it’s also true that they took concrete steps and committed resources to improve their childrens’ lives and were told that it was immoral for them to have done that and they’d be penalized for it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

                In the desperate scramble to get a seat on the lifeboat, some sacrifices have to be made.

                However politely it is phrased or how many euphemisms are draped around it, this is the essential thinking behind most educational discussions.

                The idea of a society which provides a good quality education to everyone is not even considered possible.

                Then, we pretend to be shocked, shocked when the ones we threw overboard clamber on and set fire to the boat.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The idea of a society which provides a good quality education to everyone is not even considered possible.

                I think this requires some unpacking. What’s meant by “quality education”? Seems to me that even in the lowest-rated school systems kids are *being taught*, right? Teachers are teaching those kids to read, to do the thing with numbers, to write.

                By that standard, everyone *is* provided with a good quality education. It’s called the public school system. What I think you mean here is that some people think it’s not possible for (say) poorer, under-educated communities to provide the same *results* as wealthier, (relatively) over-educated communities. But in terms of pure description, that’s not an unreasonable belief at all. Morally, you might find it offensive….Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well yeah, that’s what I mean by “everyone”.

                Even if we toss out the rich who will always have access to the very best education, suppose I propose that we create a system whereby the vast majority of people, the 99% percentile, were provided with a similar level of education?

                Seems like a pretty modest proposal, especially when laid alongside the constant and vehement insistence that we are, as a society, wealthier than any other society in time, where Louis IV would envy our poor.

                It’s not like we aren’t awash in money and wealth, right?

                But that’s not what I’m hearing. All the conversations I ever hear about education come freighted with this anxiety and desperation, where the only debate is who exactly gets the lucky slot and who gets left behind.

                Which in turn gets back to my discussion about a high trust society; When you toss someone else’s children overboard to be shark chum, it seems pretty f*cking ironic to complain when they storm through the streets burning the place down.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You cannot distribute positional goods “fairly”.

                You cannot seize positional goods and *RE*distribute them “fairly”.

                No, not even in theory.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Don’t tell that to me, tell that to everyone on this blog complaining about the unfair effects of opening or closing schools.

                “You have to understand, we can’t do this fairly…”Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                People will love their own children more than they love the children of strangers.

                Maybe they’ll be willing to take a 1-2% hit here or there. “We live in a society” and all that.

                I’m helicoptering in, so this comment may be way off base, but….

                One thing worth paying attention to as this situation persists is that lots of people who pay taxes for public schools don’t have any kids to care-more-about, and they’ll be wondering how and why all that money is being spent on a poor education without any of the day-care benefits. My own opinion is that even though *right now* people are trying to figure out the best path forward, in the long run people’s confidence in public education will be shaken at least in the sense that some of comfortable mythologies we all hold will be revealed as untrue.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                My own opinion is that even though *right now* people are trying to figure out the best path forward, in the long run people’s confidence in public education will be shaken at least in the sense that some of comfortable mythologies we all hold will be revealed as untrue.

                I don’t know whether to shudder or say “good, it’s due”.

                Or both.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Speaking of which (seriously, check this excerpt out):


              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                We’re learning that White Liberals are the source of several persistent social problems which White Liberals keep demanding that someone fix.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                I understand why this observation would offend people.

                But it shouldn’t be shocking or seem incongruous.

                When I mentioned the Lifeboat mentality, I was talking about white liberals as much as anyone.

                Even the most sweetly hippy liberal Marin County school programs filled with Zimbabwean nose flute music, are studded with references to “giving children an advantage”, “early prep” and all manner of codewords reflecting the barely concealed desperation.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I understand why this observation would offend people.

                I don’t know that it offends “people” but it certainly might offend white liberals.

                I’ve mentioned this before here, but a couple years ago my wife went to social-justice-y meeting with other women business owners in the community and the mantra they all preached was about diversity, inclusivity and opportunity for marginalized communities and people of color and so on. One of the big advocates of greater diversity as it applied to those folks was a psychiatrist who complained that black and hispanic’s psychological needs were underserved by the community, something that needed to be fixed STAT!

                My wife asked the woman if she’d blocked out time to serve those underserved people’s needs for free. “Well, no.” Not even a single hour per week? “No.”

                *Someone* needs to do something about it though.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think its fair to say that some majority of white people, liberal and conservative alike, are of the “Star Trek” brand of liberalism.

                That is, they are fine with inclusivity, so long as the authority figure sitting in the center chair is a white male, preferably from Iowa.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I think you’ve got it a bit backwards. The White Liberal I’m talking about would prefer the guy in the chair to be a person of color – or even better, a woman of color! – so long as they themselves don’t have to make any concessions to achieve the supposed ideal.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

                Fair enough; They are OK with Captain Uhura, so long as they can be on some other ship.

                The idea of a black woman behaving as a ruthless tyrant boss, the sort so lovingly potrayed as a white man in a million books and movies, terrifies the sh!t out of a lot of people.

                Exhibit A: the upcoming freakout when Harris debates Pence, and fails to smile, cringe, and apologize at the beginning of every sentence.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Fair enough; They are OK with Captain Uhura, so long as they can be on some other ship.

                You’re still not getting it. They’re OK with making Uhuru Captain – delighted about it actually! – so long as she doesn’t rock the boat.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                As a soon to be defector on the public school system who has my eyes wide open about it I feel able tell everyone the main thing that’s missing: a proposal that gets to some kind of win-win.

                Until that happens I’m perfectly happy with my local Catholic school once my son is finished daycare. Ironic as it is I actually have more faith in them to separate matters of religion from the academics.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                My Daughter was just hired by a family in Fairfax, VA because she was homeschooled (and they liked her) to be a nanny and a sort of concierge to the really weird prison-remote-schooling their children have to do.

                They are paying her more than software companies are paying recent college graduates.

                I suspect that during conversations between mandatory virtual sessions my daughter will let the cat out of the bag that *no one ever* homeschools like you all are doing virtual schooling.

                As Will said in the post… it’s all the downsides of homeschooling with none of the upside.

                Based in my research of this (almost) famous person… they will defect so hard if the famous Fairfax County schools are not back in January.

                One anecdote that even I can’t really believe is playing out.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                The thought “this shit ain’t sustainable” has started showing up in my thoughts.

                It seems to be showing up more often in recent weeks.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                Something can be not-sustainable for a surprisingly long time, certainly long enough to wreck a generation or two.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                One of the things about Homeschooling that people don’t get is that like a lot of things… the more people do it, the easier it is.

                Public schools from this point of view start to look like a monopoly that stifles competition and better products. Which is to point out that as people are disrupted out of the monopoly system they realize… hey, homeschooling is a lot easier than it looks when there are lots of people doing it.

                Which, in a perfect world would lead to a more dynamic public educational model that supports a broad array of educational paths; but in reality will lead to a massive crack-down on any other path in an attempt to reassert the monopoly and end any discussion of hybrid schooling.

                The irony is that it will be Rich Liberal defections that will cause the backlash… but I guaranty it will be marketed as protecting children from backwards Christians. Calling bullshit before the shot.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                One of the things I got into on the twitters when arguing about Police Unions was something to the effect of “we have to support Police Unions because attacking those is the nose of the camel to attacking Teacher Unions”.

                At the time, my emotional response was something to the effect of “WHO IN THE HECK IS EVEN TALKING ABOUT TEACHER UNIONS!!!”

                But now I’m wondering whether I ought to have sensed an obviously telegraphed vulnerability.

                Teacher unions will be used as examples of why homeschooling is inferior. Teacher unions, after all, care about children, on average, more than parents do, on average.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Which, in a perfect world would lead to a more dynamic public educational model that supports a broad array of educational paths

                My HS had a program for kids who worked, or “worked”, which required them to attend only half the day. I haven’t done any science on those kids to find out if they became functioning adults, but my suspicion at the time was that the school itself was conceding that at least 50% of the scheduled time the rest of us were required to be there was unnecessary.

                Seems like all that time could be put to better use. For “the good” kids, anyway….Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                In high school, my best friend was caught trying to cheat. He got three days of what was called “In School Suspension”… basically you’re in the detention room all day, given your assignments, and can’t do much but homework and read a book.

                He absolutely loved it. He finished his work in about an hour and then spent the rest of the day reading. (He was smart but not a good student)Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                Come see the oppression inherent in the system… my comment is being auto-moderated.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Marchmaine says:

                still in [Moderation] … what kind of anarcho-syndicalist commune is this?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                I swear I got you out!Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                I see that, thanks.Report

            • Michele Kerr in reply to Jaybird says:

              I’m really shocked that anyone would take that Zearn data seriously. Will’s not at fault here, it got all sorts of attention and it’s just garbage. Draw no conclusions from it.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                Whose data should we take seriously then?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                Yeah, I’ve got a similar question to Philip’s.

                That chart does strum my priors. But I’d like to know which numbers I should trust instead.Report

              • Swami in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                It does seem a bit suspect. I would want to se a lot more support before acting on it.Report

              • There is no data showing what kids learned or didn’t learn. We didn’t do testing. You can’t use proxies.

                Here’s what’s wrong with Zearn:
                1. Even if it’s all correct, which it isn’t, it’s only k-5.
                2. No one has any idea what penetration Zearn has. Five schools, fifty, fifty thousand.
                3. For all we know, educated parents were helping the kids. Or maybe the kids in high income schools were doing it in class. Or some combniation. We have no idea.

                Again–utterly completely totally worthless data and I’m genuinely pissed off at the various high value Twitter accounts sending it out.

                Once again, though, understand that k-5 is really the least damaging time to be held out of school. elementary curriculum has all sorts of repetition built into it, hypercompetitive parents aside.Report

          • Swami in reply to Will Truman says:

            I kind of just skipped over this in the initial read. Now that you point it out, this is eye opening.

            What happens when parents see how much better their kids can do when freed from the shackles of public schools?

            What happens when they find out that it isn’t that expensive to set up pods with the other best and brightest?

            I can see obvious negative ramifications, but also many possible positive ones too, including…

            1). Freeing up school to focus on those needing most remedial help
            2). Freeing up our future’s best and brightest to excel (I agree with historian Joel Mokyr’s view that social progress comes almost completely due to the 1% brightest/most creative, and that the other 99% draft on their accomplishments).
            3). Breaking up the log jam on school choice and constructive competition as opposed to enforced Ideocracy
            4). Making clear to parents the politically biased/racist victimology BS force fed to their childrenReport

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

              Amidst all this gaming out of “Green line folks escaping the shackles of sharing a system with Red line folks”, does it change anyone’s point of view if we define the “Green line folks” as “rich elite coastal liberals” and the Red line folks” as “working class white folks in flyover”?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Doesn’t change mine.

                But I wasn’t assuming that people in flyover were potentially in the same school districts as the coastal elites.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                They absolutely are in the same district when they get to college and the job market.

                I’m just thinking of all the essays and commentary in 2016 about how the coastal snobs looked down their noses at the coal miners and steel workers, and how the job market held no room for honest hard working white people who didn’t share the multi-cultural social liberalism of the elites.

                More to the point, just as how everyone likes to imagine that their kids are above average, I think most people who look at that graph imagine themselves on the green line, or maybe at worst the blue one, and see only advantages in discarding the public school system.

                Not too many people think of their kids’ future as one of the the Red Line kids, racing to shine the shoes and deliver the groceries of the Blue Line kids.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                They absolutely are in the same district when they get to college and the job market.

                Well, here’s the ugly secret about the relationship between college and the job market:

                “Just get the piece of paper” is very much a thing. I have worked with engineers who had a degree in Forestry, of all things. There are a number of other degrees that are less funny than Forestry that were claimed by co-workers, of course… but “where did you go to college” is not something that I’ve ever really talked about with an employer. I mean, they had my resume right there.

                They were more likely to make fun of my degree in an effort, I assume, to see how light I was on my feet.

                But the degree, if it’s not from HYPS, can be from Compass Directional State, when it comes to trying out for the job market.

                Now, when it comes to the crème de la crème… well, that’s not really about what you know but who you know, ain’t it?Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                San Bernardino and Baltimore are such bastions of the elite.

                I don’t really care where they live, my point is that they seem to thrive when given the opportunity. And, this doesn’t mean the rest wouldn’t thrive more too if resources were aimed and targeted more directly at the red and blue line folks. And to the extent the Next generation of entrepreneurship and innovation comes from the Greens, then the reds and blues will benefit too.

                I think the assumption that education is a zero sum system is wrong. certainly there are zero sum elements in the system, but if this catastrophe leads to better overall education – even though it leads to more disparate outcomes sorted by potential – then it will be a positive externality.

                Assuming this trend even plays out.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami says:

                No one seems to behave as if this were true.

                The desperation and anxiety evident in this entire post and comment thread makes it obvious that education is in fact a lifeboat situation where America doesn’t have the ability to properly educate all of its children such that they would be able to get good jobs.
                And there aren’t enough good jobs anyway.

                So the best hope for parents is to scramble and somehow procure one of the last remaining seats while throwing the weak overboard.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                No one seems to behave as if this were true.

                Everyone seems to behave as if this were true.

                “Just get the piece of paper.”

                Have you never heard this?

                America doesn’t have the ability to properly educate all of its children such that they would be able to get good jobs.

                I have questions about the words “ability”, “properly”, “educate”, and “good”.

                (And I think that Freddie deBoer’s book has additional insights to offer here.)Report

              • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                My study of history is that problems which are hardest to solve are often so because they are framed improperly. Even worse is where the problem is incorrectly framed as the solution, leading to applying brakes harder to try to go.

                My take on this entire discussion is that schools are unable to respond to the new challenges of a virus, and this is leading to a cascading system of failures along with a dawning recognition By parents and taxpayers that they have hitched their wagon to a blind mule with a gimpy leg and a bad attitude.

                My take on the issue is that parents should be given a choice of on site or virtual education. Absent said choice, they will create one. To the extent that many will choose virtual, that frees more resources and lowers in class pop densities for the rest. Not a bad thing. I also agreed with DD that teachers should be given a choice too, with young healthy teachers aides hired cheap to assist as needed.

                Finally, there has been no longer term problem with unemployment in the US. And implicit in my suggestion of freeing the greens up is that they are going to be the ones creating new products, science, startups and jobs that the rest of the world fills. It has always been this way, and always will. For clarity, you must first frame the issue properly.Report

            • Michele Kerr in reply to Swami says:

              It’s not going to happen. As I said–acceleration fantasy. Nerd parents really get off on this, and then reality hits.

              Sure, some kids can learn more. But capacity is capacity.Report

              • Swami in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                I certainly agree with having suspicions on this one data point, but i know I learn a LOT faster on my own than held back with a class. My vague impression of my grandson was that he was able to advance quickly right up until he was embedded in classes where they dumbed down the curriculum for the slower kids.

                It is not far-fetched to imagine that virtual learning can both free up the most advanced to learn faster AND free up more in class resources to be applied to the blue and red students.Report

              • I don’t disagree that kids can learn “more” than in school. The issue is if they are being held back by *not* learning more.

                That is, I’m all in favor of advanced classes to push kids to use what they know, integrate knowledge, and develop deeper understanding. But most people just equate “learning more” with “learning faster” and acceleration is just not all that big a deal. In fact, it can be actively harmful for kids who learn shallowly quickly and forget a lot–which is not abnormal for some otherwise high IQ kids.Report

        • Michele Kerr in reply to Jaybird says:

          You know, this is the acceleration fantasy. There’s a delusion that if you teach kids more in elementary and middle school, they’ll just be brilliant and doing college level work in high school. And that means they’ll be ready for phd by college age! And they’ll be way ahead!


          • Jaybird in reply to Michele Kerr says:

            Given my attitudes about college level work, this strikes me as exceptionally attainable.

            But, more to the point, I don’t believe that if you teach kids more in lower grades that they’ll be better prepared for higher grades earlier and “real” college work earlier.

            I *DO* believe that there are children who could be taught those things and there are very good programs to seek them out in some school districts and other school districts do not have those programs.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      Ignoring the religious issue, doing homeschool right takes time, practice,e and education. Two-thirds of all Americans stopped going to school once they graduated high school and became working people. They might not have the expertise to regard their kids through academic subjects even at the elementary school level.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I’m looking at the green, blue, and red lines again.

        I’m noticing that homeschool appears to have shot ahead for the green line.
        It seems to have balanced out around “no biggie” for the blue line.
        It seems to have cratered for the red line (though, granted, it has rebounded a little).

        You want inequality stats?

        Look at those lines.

        Best of luck redistributing.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq says:

        What religious issue? But, ignoring it: “doing homeschool right takes time, practice,e and education”

        Time: Less than you think
        Practice: Everyone has a first day somewhere
        Education: Less than you think

        Plus, homeschooling is really just a short-hand term for parent directed education… the vast, vast majority of folks are doing combinations of tutuoring, co-ops, semi-formal education, online, etc. There’s plenty of opportunities for Public Education to provide additional services to support this mode… you could even argue that Public Education primarily ought to be this mode and child-care should be an additional service that might be a secondary benefit – and perhaps ought to viewed that way first.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Marchmaine says:

          A certain type of lefty is obsessed with the idea that homeschoolers are *indoctrinating* their kids with religious beliefs at the expense of learning the Truth. Now, I get the argument that teaching kids religion can be a form of child abuse* but the part of the argument which makes me queazy is the unstated assumption that people are blank-slates until they’ve been impressed with *the right* set of beliefs (as opposed to rational agents capable of self-determination. Self-self-determining, if you will). My own experience with home-schooled kids is that the liberal hippy atheist types don’t do a very good job (either). 🙂

          *I went to grad school with a guy who argued that indoctrinating children with false beliefs is a form of abuse; Christianity is a false belief; therefore…Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to Stillwater says:

            * I make that exact same argument about Public Schools… that’s why we had to homeschool. So I grok what he’s saying.


            • Swami in reply to Marchmaine says:

              And as more parents peek in online at what the teachers are teaching/indoctrinating their kids (especially in high school), I suspect many will come to the same conclusion.

              I think there are good arguments for the separation of church and state, and the same arguments apply to secular religions. A progressive parent shouldn’t have to send their kid to Catholic school, and a non woke parent shouldn’t have to send their kid to the church/school of progressivism.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                I’ll say this about teaching grade-school kids American History: the first thing they learn about Thomas Jefferson shouldn’t be that he owned slaves. On the other hand, though, it’s impossible to teach kids the meaning of “all men are created equal” and “inalienable rights” without addressing slavery. Conservatives, it seems, want to gloss over the inconvenient bits of US history, the bits which progressives want to highlight and focus on.Report

              • Swami in reply to Stillwater says:

                Agreed. A balance.

                Honestly sometimes I got the impression my grandson’s school was non stop victimology. It seemed to be aimed at raising their self esteem and indignation by focusing on history through the eyes of repressed women, native Americans and minorities. It easily crosses from diversity of perspectives into ideology.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Swami says:

                It easily crosses from diversity of perspectives into ideology.

                From the perspective of a person who believes the comfortable and comforting myths about White people settling the frontier and Manifest Destiny and all that crap, *any* evidence or alternate narrative which challenges those views will be viewed as ideologically-driven activism. I mean, it wasn’t all Little House on the Prarie, yet it’s comforting to believe it was.

                What we, as a society, haven’t figured out yet is how to tell an honest story about America’s founding which gives deserved credit to the values and ideals enshrined in the Constitution without undermining the moral authority of those values and ideals. As a teacher, you can’t just say “Jefferson was a great man” and let that stand without addressing some of the more unseemly aspects of his personal behavior and the abhorrent institutions he participated in.

                I don’t envy a teacher tasked with threading that needle.Report

    • Laura Gadbery in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’m just bummed I forgot to teach that dinosaur stuff during our homeschooling years.Report

  5. Will, I think this is the finest piece of yours I’ve ever read and that’s saying a lot.

    This issue illustrates pretty much everything wrong with America in 2020 – the perfect being the enemy of the good, the failure to concede any point to the other guy even at the expense of not solving a problem, the politicization of everything (I’m still confused why libs are Team Close and cons are Team Open when everything I know about politics indicates it should be the other way round) etc.

    The only thing I would add is that I personally feel Trump behaved with some admirably uncharacteristic restraint for taking a federalist approach both to this and to the riots. Yes, it was a shitshow, but that really wasn’t his fault or his doing, and I don’t think we’d be anywhere any different had he come rolling in to every state to tell them to do this or that.

    Now, you could argue that this was due to politics, and you might be right, but the truth is there is an inexcusable level of selfish rot and ineptitude in every layer of the government and all we’re seeing is this state of affairs brought to the light.Report

  6. Sam Wilkinson says:

    The people who want school opened most are willing to accept more risk. The people who won’t accept risk are more willing to tolerate schools staying closed.

    The people who want schools opened most are willing to accept more risk ON BEHALF OF OTHER PEOPLE (students and teachers and staff). Rarely are those voices the ones themselves who will be facing down that risk.Report

  7. DensityDuck says:

    The unions were agitating for an early closure declaration because if it were decided before the start of the year, then it’s an Administration Directive and the school has to pay penalties (which makes sense, because teachers commit to being employed during the year and if suddenly they aren’t gonna get paid then they have to scramble to make up for it.)

    But if school starts for a week or two and then shuts down because of the ‘rona, that is an Emergency Closure During Normal Operations, which is a completely different category of event — any one that doesn’t trigger massive contingency payments.

    Oh, and the other reason this pisses off the union is that now all those no-longer-being-paid teachers will be looking for other work–as, say, a private tutor or a “pod teacher”, neither of which is involved with the union…Report

    • This would all make more sense if the alternative to opening schools were cancelling school altogether. But with remote ed, the teachers are still teaching and presumably still getting paid.

      OT’s own Michele Kerr talks a lot about the unions and their role on Bloggingheads TV, but I can’t seem to find it.

      ETA: Here it is.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

        I restricted it to teachers, but I shouldn’t have; there are all sorts of other staff involved in keeping a school running. And also, not just unions but private contracts as well; if you’re stocking up for a long year of providing chicken nuggets and french fries to the local elementary-school cafeteria and they cancel, then you’re out a lot of money for that inventory and presumably your contract will have some provision to deal with that…but less so in the case of Act Of God Emergency Nobody Could Have Forseen.Report

        • Yeah, I can see a potential issue for people involved in facillities management.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Will Truman says:

            and on the one hand it’s really disgusting to think “they didn’t want to pay the janitors a cancellation fee so they made all the kids go back to school and get the rona”

            but on the other hand…I’m dead certain that the financial penalties of pre-term cancellation were a factor in the discussion, and “we literally do not have the money to not open the school” probably came up in more places than you’d think.Report

            • I think this sort of thing factored heavily into the decisions of universities to open. They just couldn’t afford not to. Didn’t go into it in the OP but it might make for a follow-up.

              For K-12,I think it would vary to how states handled funding. The source of Denver’s complaint is that they were worried about state funding… which is a Colorado state government problem. If states are worried about schools opening on that basis and schools are worried about solvency, was a policy choice.

              I think what you are talking about likely was the case in various red states with governors that wanted the state to open. States that want their schools to open almost certainly found ways to incentivize it happening. Another policy choice.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to DensityDuck says:

      One of the things I found surprising, and heartening, is that it didn’t turn out this way. It didn’t turn out that two weeks after the opening of schools there was An Explosion Of New Cases and Everything Got Shut Down. (that ended up happening after Halloween.)Report

  8. Aaron David says:

    All schools and universities should be reopened immediately. Hell, if teachers are too afeared to go, I will go, and I am on a massive immunosuppressant.

    We as a nation have fallen down on the ideas of what we are actually looking at via COVID; who is most at risk. People under the age of 44 have an Infection Fatality Rate of .01, lower than the rate for other Accidenta Deaths in that age group. 45-54 it is at .14 and at 54-65 it is at .48. It is only when you get to 65 does the rate becomes high enough to worry about; 1.65. Over that age and they should be retired and no longer teaching.

    Back in the spring, when we didn’t have much data on this, maybe some of the precautions were warranted (though looking at Italy and other countries hit early on should have given us a pretty good idea) but at this point, any stimulus we are contemplating should be directed at opening up all closed businesses and schools, concerts and what have you, in order to increase herd immunity, while spending money to get people in some of the riskier positions and age groups an early retirement.

    Lower the retirement age requirements, lower the medicare age requirements, and this will have some positive effects on the back end with unemployment in these sectors also. But right now, we have a massively educated population that has zero understanding of risk. We freak out at the idea of putting our most resilient population into schooling and the socialization that it desperately needs, all the while having zero worries about sticking some poor shlub back behind the deli counter at the nearest grocery store.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

      I won’t speak for the rest of the country, but down here in Mississippi the teaching corps is mostly split between the 50 and above cohort and the 30 and below cohort. After school care is more often then not either retired teachers, or grandparents. So fully opening schools – while not risky per se to the kids – carries definite increased risks to the population.

      In addition we now know that kids are really good at spreading COVID even though their infection rates are lower, which means every time they go to Walmart or the library or a sports practice they can be vectors. This doesn’t make it a zero sum equation.

      ower the retirement age requirements, lower the medicare age requirements, and this will have some positive effects on the back end with unemployment in these sectors also.

      Well sure, aside form the Administration’s desire to both deploy payroll tax holidays and then make the tax cut permanent . . . . this would be great. Of course you still have to recruit teachers to take those places, and teacher pay in many states there’s no push to pay teachers better.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Philip H says:

        In addition we now know that kids are really good at spreading COVID even though their infection rates are lower,

        I’m not sure about “really good”… by most accounts they (at least under 10) are somewhat less likely to spread it, but that spreading doesn’t occur. I’ve heard “half as likely” but that sounds like a WAG to me.

        That’s interesting about aftercare… around here it’s much more likely to be young people. At the vleast, I think this is something we can work around. A lot of students who were planning to go to college now aren’t. That said, our school couldn’t do aftercare for the pretty simple reason that most of its safety plans involve keeping the kids separated and aftercare involves putting kids in different grades together. I don’t know how you work around that. The school couldn’t, so they just scrapped it.

        The 50/30 makes a lot of sense. Another thing that suggests we should have been recruiting young people from early on. Some leadership here, particularly at the national level, could have gone a long way here. Or it might not have (if teachers were to object on the grounds of certifications and all that, for example). But we will never know.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Will Truman says:

          As schools reopen in parts of the United States, a study published Thursday found that some children have high levels of virus in their airways during the first three days of infection despite having only mild symptoms or none at all — suggesting their role in community spread may be larger than previously believed.

          One of the study’s authors, Alessio Fasano, a physician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, said that because children tend to exhibit few or no symptoms, they were largely ignored in the early part of the outbreak and not tested. But they may have been acting as silent spreaders all along.


          • Will Truman in reply to Philip H says:

            Thanks. So back to the land of contradictory results.

            We have a couple that looked at viral loads in the nose, one coming to a conclusion that it’s “more than previously believed” (which isn’t saying much since it was believed at one point to be near-zero), one from a month ago that said “more than older kids and adults”… and then the South Korea study that actually tracked spread and found substantially less from younger kids.Report

            • Philip H in reply to Will Truman says:

              Thanks. So back to the land of contradictory results.

              Or, welcome to how science is done. You get a real time front row seat in the stodgy, rarified air of the ivory tower.

              That disclaimer out of the way, its probably worth noting that the SK study – while well done and containing a broad data set – was also done of a public school system that is structured and run vastly differently then ours, in a culture that approached the pandemic much differently then ours. To my knowledge, mask wearing was routine before the pandemic and so ramping it up was no big deal. Meaning a cultural based reanalysis of the data form Korea probably needs to be done at some point.

              Of course, if we could get our schools to act like Korean schools we could probably get similar resultsReport

              • Will Truman in reply to Philip H says:

                The flip side of that is that South Korea actually looked at transmission, while the other ones look at nasal viral loads. Both could be true (they are less likely to transmit for reasons other than viral load).

                You’re not wrong about the difference between SK and US. I believe that for multiple reasons our transmission rates are going to be higher than theirs across the board, but it also seems to me there is a good chance that the comparative transmission between age groups may hold. The results from Europe are supportive of that theory, though I can also think of reasons why our experience with primary schools might be different from theirs (namely that we are starting from a higher spot).

                It will be definitely be helpful to have data from the US as it comes in.Report

  9. George Turner says:

    What do you folks think of this?

    Rutherford County Schools Tell Parents Not to Monitor Their Child’s Virtual Classrooms

    The form asks parents for their signature and warns that “violation of this agreement may result in RCS removing my child from the virtual meeting.”

    Things like that have been popping up all over the country, and in some cases a teacher has said they don’t want parents to know what they’ve been doing in their classrooms, terrified that some parents might record it (potentially causing massive problems for the teachers and school boards).

    For the parents who’ve had the feeling that schools are pushing pedophilia, Antifa, or some form of race-based Marxism, official letters like these might be a big red flag. But then for some of the teachers and school board members, the worry is probably that some of the deranged parents (pedos, Karens, or whatever) will be using the video stream for their own nefarious purposes.

    I’m guessing it’s a symptom of a complete and mutual lack of trust, and if so, perhaps the only solution would be groups of like-minded parents coming together like an organic home-school group, to vouch for and verify each other (building a trust network), and then perhaps to periodically and happily monitoring each other’s teaching sessions.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to George Turner says:

      yeah, well, I kind of feel like taking video of schoolchildren is something we want to treat pretty seriously. Like, I can’t just set up a video camera in a regular classroom, right?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

        I think it’s one thing to say “we don’t want Creepy Old Man Johnson watching these kids in the school interacting”.

        It’s quite another to say “we don’t want your parent in the next room overhearing what we’re talking about”.

        It makes *ABSOLUTE* sense to say the former.
        The latter is one of those things that might get me to ask “what are you teaching that you wouldn’t want them to hear?”

        I mean, *I* went to school, once. A million years ago. I cannot recall a single thing that I learned that I wouldn’t have wanted my mom to overhear.

        Maybe some of the comments that Mister Richardson made about Winesburg, Ohio would have made me embarrassed. Some of the things he said about George Willard had bite and I hadn’t yet reconciled myself to the fact that my generation might not have been the first to discover sex.

        But, for the most part, I can’t remember anything that would have been particularly alarming had she been a fly on the wall.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

          Before you guys start looking for pitchforks and torches, maybe take a moment to read George’s source material.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            It contains this line:
            The Tennessee Star received a copy of such a form this week.

            But it does not contain a link to said copy of the form. That is a bad sign.

            The article goes on to say that the school administrator clarified:

            “We are aware of the concern that has been raised about this distance-learning letter that was sent to parents. The intent was not to prevent parents from being involved with their children during distance learning, but it was intended to protect the academic privacy of other students in the classroom who are visible during certain virtual class sessions.”


            No problem. It was about preventing any parents from creeping on the other students in their own kids’ class. Makes sense.

            “You can’t watch what we’re teaching your kid, sign this form” is one of those things that will get even parents who weren’t interested in sitting near the screen before they read the form to want to see what in the hell is going on that they shouldn’t be looking at.

            Because, as I said, I went to school once, a million years ago. While Mister Richardson’s comments may or may not have gotten Mom to raise an eyebrow, some of my classmates had outfits that sure as hell would have. Which makes Creepy Old Man Johnson (father of one of the kids in the class) an actual threat.Report

            • Swami in reply to Jaybird says:

              Schools have really changed, Jaybird,

              I have seen my grandson’s HS textbooks and checked out some of his Marxism/Racism/Victimology assignments and I think when it comes to light what kids are being taught in classes today that the “non woke” are going to be appalled.

              I fully support Chip and Veronica and their ilk to have their radical progressive views. But I do not believe the majority of Americans want it force fed to their children. And it has been lately.

              I believe every American should have freedom of religion. And that includes freedom from the secular religion of progressive ideology as being forced into public schools.

              The non-woke need to wake up, to mix metaphors.Report

  10. DensityDuck says:

    And I gotta say that if the people who are the most worried about Getting Infected In School are the teachers, then the solution to that is to let the teachers come in on a Zoom call, and hire in-classroom minders to keep everyone looking at the TV.

    Heck, that even solves the problem of “what if my kid gets sick”, because then the kid can watch the same Zoom call from home — and you even have an official reason to present to your employer, rather than “well the school says it’s gonna be remote this year…”Report

    • Swami in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Great suggestion, DD

      1) Alternating class days with (less than) half the student density and desks further apart
      2) Zoom of all classes with kids who aren’t allowed to attend (by parents or temperature) participating virtually
      3) Young healthy in-school-monitors/teachers aids to supplement any virtual teachers (who are at risk)
      4) Classes held outdoors where practical/possible
      5) Vouchers for parents who want to take their kids elsewhere (thus assisting with density issues)
      6) Learn and adapt as the semester progresses, sharing successes and workarounds with other districtsReport

  11. Saul Degraw says:

    All the school opening plans have been a disaster so far from K to College. I do not think distance learning is just as good. I generally hate “virtual” or “zoom” whatever. But the pandemic is still very real.Report

    • I don’t think college in generally is achievable (or worth the cost)

      With high schools… it’s honestly hard to tell. We are mostly hearing anecdotes which can make things happening here and there sound like they are happening everywhere. (Same could be true of college, but Notre Dame is Note Dame and UNC-CH is UNC so we can at least gauge by pre-existing familiarity. Nobody knows the high schools of the Atlanta area.

      Have heard less about grade schools (which, obviously, is what I am most concerned about).

      All of this tracks closely with what we know about spread, and with other factors like school size (the more students, the more entry vectors).

      What’s hard to determine right now is what’s going to happen when we have a lot more open schools. Particularly given that some of them are opening in the parts of the country where it is least wise to do so.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        A big problem is that people really do not know what precautions other people are taking or not.

        One thing I’ve noticed on social media is people writing something like “I met with my good friend X for some much needed socially distant Y.” It is hard to tell whether people are actually adhering to the protocols or whether “socially distant” just means “we met outside.” When I go walking in the parks around SF, I see both variants.

        IIRC the polling shows most people want a hybrid kind of situation. There is a reasonable size minority for no reopening (around 30 percent) and a 10 percent minority for reopen, full speed ahead.Report

        • Polling mostly seems to suggest that people just want a middle ground, whatever that is.

          If the three choices are full-open, full-close, and hybrid, they choose hybrid.

          If the choices are full-open, full-close, and parent option, they choose parent option.

          Which is less helpful if taken literally, but to me abstractly shows that people are nervous. Which, taken literally, mean that hybrid and parent option aren’t a bad idea. (I’m skeptical of hybrid, but maybe as a getting-feet-wet sort of thing it’ll help put people at ease. I don’t know.)Report

        • Philip H in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          There’s also issues with state level open reporting from schools. Our many districts are all taking different approaches as there is no state mandate or control for reporting. So while some districts are reporting when a positive case is identified, not all of ours are, and then they may r may not report if it came from a student or teacher. Makes the risk evaluation tough.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Philip H says:

            Governor Justice, who I have been planning to vote against and still may, has been doing an unexpectedly okay job. While it might have been preferable to give local districts more latitude to make decisions, it’s a metric-oriented approach with some pretty uniform reporting (the state’s Covid site just got a facelift and is pretty good now, with a specific schools area).Report

      • The question in reply to Will Truman says:

        Didn’t UNC prove Just last week that no we’re not going to be able to reopen the colleges again?

        unless you’re planning on putting every single college student in their own personal condom suit you’re not going to be able to reopen without getting covid-19 spikes and deathsReport

        • I don’t see how college as they are trying it is going to work. You might be able to pull something off with a very limited student body. Basically those students up for lab-required classes, medical students, some international students, and so on. Basically something much more limited and narrow. Or colleges of a certain size (maybe a small school like Tulsa can figure something out).

          But the idea of a big state university with tens of thousands of students never struck me as workable and our experience *seems to be* bearing that out.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Will Truman says:

            I was in Fort Collins, CO today for other reasons and happened to drive through one of the now-upscale parts of the old town center near the Colorado State campus around noon. Crowds of young people walking around. Few masks, minimal physical spacing, and this despite a statewide order to wear masks in public places.

            If I were on the faculty, I’d have taken one look at that and told the administration I wasn’t going anywhere near campus this semester.Report

          • fillyjonk in reply to Will Truman says:

            We have something like 3000 in-person students (and maybe 1100 more that are fully online – we have several online graduate programs).

            FWIW, we had our first week this week. I am teaching three of my four classes in person (with a zoom broadcast/recording for students with family or health issues or who are quarantining). The fourth is too big for the recommended distancing, I am doing it entirely over Zoom.

            teaching entirely over Zoom is *awful.* it is much more draining because you have to be “on” but you don’t have the other people there to keep your energy up, and most of my students choose not to have their cameras on (that’s OK, I would rather not see them in whatever state of undress). I am getting a lot more of what feel like extra-demanding e-mails (Like: “when are you going to post the recording of the lecture” while Zoom is still processing it, so like within 3 minutes of me walking out of the class)

            I was very apprehensive about coming back and a colleague even advised me to be fully online (he is). I am glad I didn’t listen now – my mood has improved 1000% being able to teach in person. I was depressed over the summer and it was probably lack of human interaction and also a feeling of having lost my “purpose.”

            I hope we can stay in person for as long as possible. I hope our tracing system is as good as it sounds. I have one international student who is quarantining out of an excess of caution (she flew back from Australia) and another student who came into contact with someone who tested positive and who is quarantining pending his own test results. I got an official e-mail about that as well as the one the student sent me. I have set up my classes so quarantined students won’t miss too much.

            We are unusual in that we are small and a large percentage of our population is “non traditional” students – many of whom have children or live with older relatives and I am HOPING the family focus maybe shuts down some of the crowded type of socializing that UNC was sunk by.

            I’m also slowly coming around to the idea of, “How you lived this spring and summer is no way to live long-term” (I literally went out once every 10 days to get groceries, and that was it, and it had me spending time contemplating “do I really want to go on in a world like this?”) and that maybe “don’t be a dummy about it and go to bars or indoor restaurants but also you can maybe do a tiny bit of “fun” shopping if you wear a mask, because your psyche needs it, and if you get sick, you get sick , you took reasonable precautions”

            Because eternal lockdown (self imposed) is NO way to live. It was basically being a prey animal hiding in its burrow and fish that. Like I said: I’m not going to be stupid about things but dang am I happy to being my job 75% like normal again.Report

      • Swami in reply to Will Truman says:

        “I don’t think college in generally is achievable (or worth the cost)”

        Do you mean you don’t think reopening campus yet is a good idea? I probably agree, though I would like to see experimentation/variation for learning. Good thing about college is that they should have the discipline and means to study virtually. At least the ones that really should be there do.Report

  12. Chip Daniels says:

    What the American response to the pandemic illustrates for me is our lack of trust in our institutions, and our inability to form a coordinated collective response.

    This is a case where the American hyper-individualist trait makes it impossible to formulate any response which begins “We should…”

    Even the most basic act of hygiene, wearing a mask, has become a hotly debated issue leading to violent responses.
    In response to medical experts we have an entire ecosystem of quack, frauds, grifters and religious zealots who vehemently demand that their ignorance is as good as anyone’s expertise.

    Given that, I am at a loss to imagine how any sort of coordinated response based on reason and knowledge could succeed in the face of a hurricane of stupidity and selfishness.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I think this treats all Americans in a uniform way that is unfair. California announced remote schooling early and when DeVos and Trump were threatening to withhold funding. There are also protests in European countries for ongoing lockdown procedures so it is just us per se.

      But I agree with the rest especially on quacks claiming expertise and getting recognition.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’m in one of my pessimistic moods today.

        I’ve been seeing more and more restaurantshere in downtown open up under the “outdoor patio” rule, where they can have dining so long as it is in an “outdoor space”.

        I use scare quotes because about half od the “outdoor spaces” are outdoor only in the most generous interpretation, where they have walls and a canvas awning.

        The logic is sound: That dining in person in an outdoor setting is less risky than in an enclosed space; But that the risk is still present, and caution and good hygiene should still be followed.

        But that’s not how people are behaving. I see large groups of people, music blaring, so they lean in and speak very loudly right in each others’ faces. They are behaving with magical thinking, like somehow they have a Papal dispensation from the virus.
        And this is in the bluest city in the bluest state, so its not even a political difference.

        I’m thinking that “we” as a culture are far too tolerant of cranks and ignoramuses, and far too unwilling to listen to those with expertise.

        And yeah, its not a new thing; Twain wrote about these folks a century and a half ago.Report

        • Michele Kerr in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          What I don’t think you understand is that when Will talks about differences to risk, he’s talking about people reading your comment and thinking jesus, what the hell? Why does he care? Get over it. Stop fussing about normal behavior and stop pretending that we can control spread.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Michele Kerr says:

            The thought of watching a loved one slowly choking to death focuses the mind wonderfully.Report

            • Michele Kerr in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              See what I mean? It’s like you can’t even comprehend that you’re abnormal.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                sorry but how is Chip abnormal for looking at how people are impacted by COVID – meaning well reported symptomology – and then deciding we should work as a society to minimize that? Its like you can’t fathom empathy.Report

              • Michele Kerr in reply to Philip H says:

                Because as a rule you don’t force other people to shut down their entire lives to reduce an already minimal risk, and doing so is abnormal.

                Drivers over the age of 65 are 17 times more likely to have fatal car accidents. But fatal car accidents are horrible, horrible things even if they happen to people below the age of 65. I mean, kids could lose their parents. Or parents could kill their kids!

                The only solution is to ban driving until we have self-driving cars.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                To Michele’s point:

                The first round of our Franklin Templeton–Gallup Economics of Recovery Study has already yielded three powerful and surprising insights:

                Americans still misperceive the risks of death from COVID-19 for different age cohorts—to a shocking extent;

                The misperception is greater for those who identify as Democrats, and for those who rely more on social media for information; partisanship and misinformation, to misquote Thomas Dolby, are blinding us from science; and

                We find a sizable “safety premium” that could become a significant driver of inflation as the recovery gets underway.

                Six months into this pandemic, Americans still dramatically misunderstand the risk of dying from COVID-19:

                On average, Americans believe that people aged 55 and older account for just over half of total COVID-19 deaths; the actual figure is 92%.

                Americans believe that people aged 44 and younger account for about 30% of total deaths; the actual figure is 2.7%.

                Americans overestimate the risk of death from COVID-19 for people aged 24 and younger
                by a factor of 50; and they think the risk for people aged 65 and older is half of what it actually is (40% vs 80%).
                These results are nothing short of stunning. Mortality data have shown from the very beginning that the COVID-19 virus age-discriminates, with deaths overwhelmingly concentrated in people who are older and suffer comorbidities. This is perhaps the only uncontroversial piece of evidence we have about this virus. Nearly all US fatalities have been among people older than 55; and yet a large number of Americans are still convinced that the risk to those younger than 55 is almost the same as to those who are older.


                Its a very good study, and I highly recommend that everyone here goes over it. In my eyes, it really gets to the heart of many of the issues that we are actually facing, and not the bullshit that is being pawned off on us.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

                Indeed this is an interesting study. And yes, the statistics have borne out the general conclusion that older people die more, and older people also are at great risk for long term consequences. I note before proceeding that this alleged economic study doesn’t actually seek to account for long term economic challenges from hundreds of thousands to millions of people dealing with long term consequences, or the economic challenges taken aboard by having differing pre-COVID stances to the need to implement a variety of healthcare system changes.

                What they don’t do in this study is look at transmission, and the intersection between populations likely to be relatively mildly affected (like kids) despite significant transmission, and populations likely to suffer greater symptomology and death (like grandparents).

                The fact that a large share of the population overestimates the COVID-19 danger to the young will make a targeted public health response more difficult to agree on. We think it is also likely to delay the recovery, causing a deeper and prolonged recession.

                The authors fial to take into account taht a large segment of the population also looks at emerging transmission rate date from kids, looks at the members of vulnerable older populations who often care for kids, and say we still need more robust interventions to keep those older populations safe.

                I’m also not in any way fearful of the inflation the the study keep trying to point to – inflation was at historic lows before the pandemic and shows no signs yet of roaring back. Unemploymennt and evictions are a real crisis, but no one wants to talk about the impacts of those things it seems.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Philip H says:

                One thing worth noting is that people are, as a general rule, incredibly bad at percentages. Not just “people are innumerate” but really bad with that in particular.

                I remember reading a survey where people thought an outrageous number of Americans had died from Covid – like one in ten. And yet, at the same time, knew that roughly 160,000 Americans had died from it. The raw numbers, even if they knew the number who had died from Covid and knew population of the US, just didn’t convert into percents.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                Because as a rule you don’t force other people to shut down their entire lives to reduce an already minimal risk, and doing so is abnormal.

                So while the risk of death (as Aaron points out below) is skewed in certain directions, its not minimal. As of this mornings data update on the John’s Hopkins COVID dashboard,we are over 172K deaths. That’s nearly 3 times the high end of the maximum estimates by the CD of deaths due to the flu. And even though mortality is demonstrably higher in older life stages, we also now know that younger people transmit the virus very well.

                That aside, initially, lots of people were going into hospitals and not coming out alive, and the disease was not well understood. So shutting down made sense in as much as the hospitals appeared headed to an overwhelmed status. We live in society, not alone on islands, and we do sometimes have to make sacrifices for the greater good.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H says:

                There is also a vast territory of illness between “death” and “no effect”.

                Even people who don’t die suffer terribly, and for a long time afterward. Heart, lung and brain damage, blood clotting, and chronic fatigue symptoms occur even in people who survive the illness.

                Anyone who blithely assumes that they are safe because they are not elderly is indulging in magical thinking.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I agree, as well as anyone who thinks there’s no economic impact to that long term illness and recovery.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Americans might have culture warred the pandemic more than other countries but the news shows al to of non-Americans are sick of Covid-19 and its’ varying restrictions. To the extent that other countries got their people to follow restrictions, it was because they were willing to impose more force like nobody can leave their homes but for reasons x, y, and z and or bust up kid’s birthday parties when public health officials noticed an usually large KFC order. Mass quarantines always required real force to get people to follow along.

      The reason why morale boasting is easier during war time is plant a neighborhood victory party is more communal and social than stay at home and watch YouTube kitten videos while eating copious amounts of junk food. Another reason is that having a few scofflaws doesn’t undermine the home front during a war in the same way that they do during a pandemic, where scofflaws can spread the disease. So you need a willingness to use real force rather than voluntary compliance.Report

  13. Stillwater says:

    Asking whether we, as a country, should open schools and close schools is the wrong question entirely. The question should be which schools to open, for which kids, and where.

    That’s not the question either, Will, since it presupposes a coherent, competent, national-level strategy which people have already bought into. Since that’s not the case, your question just reduces to whatever metrics and politics are driving decision-making at the local level *given* the absence of a coherent national-level plan. Without a gravitational mass pulling decision-making towards an agreed on center every stake-holder in the discussion won’t be moved off their current trajectories.Report

  14. Kazzy says:

    So many excellent points here, Will. Thank you for writing it.

    This point stands out uniquely and is where I currently am:
    “Past that, though, schools are a central part of the community. It isn’t their job to take one for the team. If we’re accepting risks of spread anywhere, schools are very high on the list of things worth taking a risk on.”

    If schools can’t be open until it’s safer, close everything to help us get to “safer”.

    I do think you misrepresent Team Open a bit, though you seem to be focused on the prominent/political voices and I think you’ve captured them fairly. I think on the ground, you have many parents like myself who really, really want their kids at school because they truly believe it is the best place for them to be and have looked at the context to feel safe doing so. NJ — and my area in particular — has really gotten our numbers down. Our town has been averaging single digit new cases per week for several weeks. If it isn’t safe now, it will never be safe.

    And the plan that has been proposed is more dangerous than a fuller re-opening because of all the mixing that will happen elsewhere. I think legal liability is driving much of the decision making. Schools don’t want to be sued or show up on the news as the one that has the first dead kid. They don’t care if kids get sick; they just want to be able to blame someone else if they do.

    The final point I’d make is to distinguish between teachers and unions. I am non-union but I have friends in unions who have been pressured to say they are too sick to work or have been pressured to stay silent on their desire to return.

    Teachers — as individuals — are varied in their preferences. Teachers unions are united in their Team Closed status. Many, in fact, are using it as a leverage point to negotiate matters totally unrelated to Covid. Which, I guess if you have leverage, use it. But they’re not doing themselves any favors. Good luck with your next round of negotiations when you’ve spent a year telling everyone how ‘non-essential’ you are.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      Thanks, Kazzy. I had to paint with some pretty broad brushes on both sides and I am focusing on political leaders. On the Team Close side, there are a lot of people who think schools should remain closed but really were open to it until the facts on the ground changed. Those are the people I blame Team Open (well, the political leadership of Team Open not you and me) for losing the confidence of.

      And what you’re talking about is looking at the facts on the ground in your situation and making a decision based on that. As opposed to being committed to opening (no matter what). I assume that if you were in Houston right now, you might look at the situation differently because the facts on the ground are so different there.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        I think a major flaw that Team Open had was no strong voice advocating on behalf of children. The AAP briefly emerged as this but then tempered there statement when it became politicized. They DIDN’T walk it back — as many Team Closed people insisted — but rather offered some context and really because they didn’t want to be on Team Trump.

        If we had someone out there saying, “Let me tell you what the impact of this on kids is,” I think Team Open would have had a much stronger positioning. But that person never emerged.

        And then things got ugly. I’ve been accused of wanting children and teachers to die. I’m like, ‘Yea… that sounds like me… the teacher and dad who has dedicated his entire adult life to children. I want kids and teachers dead.’Report

  15. InMD says:

    What I find most frustrating is the sclerosis. There are probably a lot of workable ideas but we apparently aren’t nimble enough to implement them. Why not outdoor classes in places where the weather permits it? Why not comandeer spaces to prioritize the small kids while the older ones who are more capable make do?

    I grant none of it is perfect but it’s almost like we’d prefer navel gazing and politicization to creative problem solving.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to InMD says:

      One of the broader lessons of all of this is how inflexible our institutions are. Schools are one manifestation of this. One of the things that really hit us early on his how specialized our supply chains are, so we had a bunch of products that restaurants couldn’t use because they were closed but that supermarkets couldn’t accept due to volume and packaging requirements and other distribution issues.

      Institutional efficiency seems to have come directly at the cost of institutional flexibility.Report

      • InMD in reply to Will Truman says:

        A lot of things need go be rethought that’s for sure. If our systems can’t stand up to this I can’t help but wonder how good they were to begin with.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Will Truman says:

        Which is why I come to the idea that we as a culture need to re-learn the lessons of cooperation and downgrading individual desires in service to communal norms.

        Institutions only gain trust when there is a consensus on whether the things they stand for are worth paying attention to.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          If you want a high-collaboration society, you need to establish high-trust.

          High-trust is a pre-req.

          A lack of high-trust demonstrates a failure happening. Without this failure being addressed, you won’t be able to force our culture to learn anything. Primarily, it’s because it’ll come across as “I don’t need to change, you need to change”.

          Which does not increase trust.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

            I guess that requires us to ask, what is this failure?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Well, let’s hammer out whether we even have a problem. Do we have a lower-trust society today than we did, oh, 10, or 20, or 30 years ago?

              I guess I’d like to know if we can say “okay, it looks like something happened around *HERE*…” and then look at the 3-5 years prior to that point and name the big things that happened.

              So when was the peak? When did things plateau? When did things start going down?

              I mean, if we’ve got a higher trust society than we’ve ever had, we just need to wait for that sweet, sweet collaboration to kick in.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Why does that matter?
                I thought the underlying premise here is that America’s response to the pandemic is unacceptable.

                Even if it is exactly the same as it would have been 30 years ago.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If there was never a point in America that we would have or could have handled this better, then we don’t need to re-learn these lessons.

                We need to learn them the first time.

                And we need to figure out how to increase trust in our low-to-middle-trust society that has never had noticeably more trust in it than anyone living has likely seen.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think that’s probably a better way to say it, that no one has any adult memory of such a society.

                I mean, I’m just barely old enough to remember when striking a blow for radical individuality was considered hip and forward thinking.

                But now, IMO, we are seeing the consequences of a society where “I don’t wanna” is considered inviolable.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m not old enough to remember much at all about the 1600’s.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So we are either at the same level of trust we’ve always had (in living memory) or we’re doing better than we’ve ever done.

                So I guess we just gotta figure out if it’s the former or the latter.

                If it’s the former, we should look at what the countries we want to be like have done to establish and maintain high trust.

                If it’s the latter, we just gotta keep on keepin’ on and maybe figure out how to speed it up.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                If someone wants to defend the status quo, let them make the case.

                From what I’m seeing, the consensus here seems to be that everybody gets an F.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Great. So we want to be more like South Korea or Sweden.

                What do they have going on?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                *Looks around for whoever made such an assertion*Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Oh, so we just want better without wanting to look more like another country?

                If we don’t want to look more like (insert country here), what social achievements do you want us to be able to do?

                (I admit, I do like pointing at other countries because then, at least, we can say “That. We should do something like that. They’ve proven it can be done!” where stuff that nobody has ever been demonstrated able to achieve is a much harder sell for me.)Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                It should be possible to imagine an America which works hard and succeeds by learning from other countries, not becoming them.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Which countries should we learn from? And, I suppose, which lessons? (If we’re limiting it to learning things without becoming more like them.)Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m thinking a bit more high level.
                Nearly all major faith traditions have some version of collective group identity which forms the basis for their norms.

                *Throat clearing preamble*
                Of course these have also resulted in awful outcomes in addition to good ones.

                But the idea is that we can distill the idea of group identity to form some sort of secular creed which all Americans can grasp and feel a part of.
                The idea that we are all part of something larger than ourselves, which can be the foundation of a set of norms and honored things and institutions.
                Which then allow these institutions to speak with the authority of being backed by a strong consensus of belief and shared ideals.

                Yes, this will be a long process and take generations.

                But it took generations to get where we are now.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I feel like, maybe, there was some sort of group identity and secular creed that “Americans” had at some point. Some weird form of idea that we were all part of something larger than ourselves.

                It feels like we had that sort of thing even in my lifetime.

                Why wouldn’t what happened to the idea that I think I remember happen to the idea that you’re proposing?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                Maybe people today and tomorrow won’t make the same choices other people made before?Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                The first step to increasing trust is not have people who benefit from decreasing trust/increasing fear and paranoia. That seems like the biggest obstacle.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Step 2 or 3: Get rid of bad people.

                I’m on board.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Huh? Wha? Did you even understand what i wrote?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                We need to not have people who benefit from decreasing trust/increasing fear and paranoia. So let’s get rid of these people.

                Or.. wait. Are you proposing that we merely reeducate them properly this time?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Instead of “not having people who X”, I’d rather have a *SYSTEM* where doing X is not rewarded (perhaps even punished) and doing ~X is rewarded.

                “A system that doesn’t benefit people who decrease trust/increase fear and/or paranoia.”

                That sentence doesn’t freak me out at all.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:

      I don’t know if this is true but I heard it said that outdoor classes weren’t an option because of security. Supposedly, because of “all the school shootings.”

      I responded with, “So we can’t be inside because of Covid and we can’t be outside because of shootings?” and with no irony got a, “Yup!”Report

      • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

        Shootings? That’s… such an out there concern. Like to the point I wonder how deep the mass hysteria runs.

        My county has loads of very nice parks, most with covered pavilions. Seems like there’s an idea there, even just a few days a week but no one has mentioned it as an option that I’m aware of. My son is back at daycare and they are essentially outside as long as the weather permits it. When it gets too hot they just spray the children with a hose.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to InMD says:

          “Shootings? That’s… such an out there concern.”

          I guess you missed the past five years of somber articles about the Epidemic Of School Shootings In America, the going-viral articles about “it’s January 12th and there’s already been 1592 school shootings this year”, the people talking about how their elementary school is holding mass-casualty drills and suggesting it’s a realistic response to the situation.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:

          I don’t know if that is actually why the school ix-nayed it. I suppose there are other potential security concerns. But at what point do we stop and say, “Which of these is the greater risk?” rather than running away from every Big Scary Thing and directly into the arms of Quietly Harmful Thing.Report

          • Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

            So the next big fear is snipers picking off kids?

            The inability to react in sclerotic school districts is going to redirect decisions to where they are adaptive. This is going to shake things up!Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

              I’ve long been ambivalent to school choice plans, largely because most of the plans I’ve seen seem to have pretty gaping holes in them. I like the idea of school choice… just wonder about execution.

              This is really exposing that the monopoly that public schools have on their local families’ educational options creates really perverse incentives.

              Many private schools are opening. Alternate/remote school support options are popping up left and right. Now, some of this is because of resources and the ability to control population sizes and differentiate offerings. My school can simply admit fewer kids or say, “You get to come 5 days but you only get to come 3 days.” Public schools can’t do either of those things. I get it. And that really matters.

              But what also matters are incentives. If private schools don’t figure this out, we close. Plain and simple. If the local YMCA develops a robust “remote school support program”, they can charge a nice fee for that and keep themselves afloat after bordering on insolvency with the recent shut downs.

              What incentive do public schools have to open? Very little. In fact, the risk/fear of lawsuits seems to be driving schools to stay closed.

              But imagine if my town’s school had to worry that I would jump ship — with my tax dollars — to the town over if I liked their re-opening plan better? You’d be dumb not to bet they wouldn’t have come up with something better than they have.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                The flip side of this is that schools have a financial incentive to be reckless. They can’t afford not to open, so they’re opening even if they shouldn’t.

                A lot of this goes back to a belief over whether or not schools opening at all is the broadly correct position.

                At the end of the semester we should have an idea. If all the private schools had to close due to outbreaks and/or parents keeping their kids home, then that will be a degree of vindication that private schools were thinking with their pocketbook. If they make it work, there are some lessons in there.

                Of course, the fact that the same people who think private schools are not okay are okay with learning centers seems suspect. Not hard to believe that either is less risky than regular schools, but hard to differentiate between one and the other in any reliable fashion because both are going to cover a wide range of scenarios (as opposed to schools, which tend to be model-standardized).

                New York City had a learning center over the summer without a single traced infection. I have difficulty believing if that can happen then schools cannot be made to work somewhere (private especially, but public too). Yet that seems to be the lesson a lot of people drew… learning centers okay, schools not.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                A good and fair counterpoint. From what I’ve seen though, many private schools have gone to extreme lengths to ensure or project safety. My girlfriend’s school has removed EVERYTHING from the classroom… even books… despite minimal evidence of risk via surface transmission. I’d argue that environment may actually be detrimental to children but it remains to be seen.

                So, yes, private schools are incentivized to be more aggressive in their opening plans though from what I’ve seen, they are balancing this with aggressive (perhaps overly aggressive) safety measures.

                I’m also in an area that saw the worst of the spike. And where things have improved dramatically. So we are battle-tested, shell-shocked, and in a position to do more than many other areas.Report

              • Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

                Excellent arguments and points, Kazzy.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

                “I like the idea of school choice… just wonder about execution.”

                oh, so now you are worried about school shootings? XDReport

              • Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                School beheadings, actually.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:

      Acknowledging that a small private nursery school is not a large public K-12 system…

      I am similarly frustrated by it. For a few different reasons, I have become the cheerleader on my faculty. I keep trying to point out how dismantling our systems and structures creates cool opportunities to do things in radically new and different ways. And maaaaaaaybe some of them will flop but we’ve got to try at least, right? I know we’re used to putting the squarish peg in the squarish hole and I know we don’t like that the hole is circular now but it IS circular now so maybe we should change our peg, right? RIGHT??? RIGHT?!?!?! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!!

      And this is before we look at some actual benefits that are emerging from the necessary changes.Report

      • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

        Yea, it seems like we’ve gotten risk averse to the point we’ve lost all perspective. Like if there was ever a time to suspend some of the rules it’s now.

        And also didn’t mean to imply my son’s daycare is remotely like what the public schools are dealing with. It’s way different and my wife and I thank God every day we (knock on wood) haven’t had to make any tough decisions.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:

          Oh no, sorry! That was about ME not you. I work in a small private nursery. So I have some options available to me that may not be available to public school teachers or their schools/district. But having fewer options doesn’t mean no options.Report

  16. PD Shaw says:

    Our school district recently reversed course to go remote only after approving parental choice of either a hybrid-model or remote-only. About 55% choose hybrid, which with A and B days would have meant classrooms would have been at about 27.5% capacity (eight or nine students per classroom). The union orchestrated non-cooperation behind the scenes after the plan was approved, despite approximately 30 percent of teachers wanting in-person only, as opposed to 30 percent wanting remote only. (About 70% of teachers were “interested” in a hybrid model)

    Team close on the school board was mostly animated by issues with K-5 students, perceived as slimy, drooling disease vectors who will refuse to wear masks and are incapable of self-control to social distance. So while acknowledging in person instruction is most important for K-5, its K-5 that scares them the most and animates the desire to shut the whole thing down. (The district’s all-day child care this summer proceeded without incident)

    The problem with remote learning for high school is with the number of different classes which are given a third of the ordinary instruction. My son will either be instructed on Tuesdays/Thursdays or Wednesdays/Fridays. Each day he will have seven classes about 40 minutes long, or roughly 10 hours of instruction per week. Traditionally, school was 30 hours per week, but State law requires a minimum of 25 hours per week, which have been waived by the Governor as an emergency order with the understanding that 25 hours can be with instruction or intensive homework.
    So essentially, he will be remote learning for ten hours, with 5 hours of intensive homework over previous homework loads, which is unlikely to happen. Compare that with college, where a student will take 4 or 5 classes with 15 hours of instruction; I don’t think high schools would be organized around seven classes if they had 10 hours to split between them.

    This school district remains under a federal desegregation order and the strongest advocate of in-person learning on the school board was an African-America woman ‘from the other side of the tracks’ who made all of the arguments about the importance of in person learning for racial equality, but because she is also the CEO of the local boys and girls clubs, she pointed out that they will be open for the kids while the schools closed, keeping them active and supported in a safe place. The kids don’t disappear to their rooms even if the school doors are closed to them. The rejoinder was that remote learning was most popular in the grade schools with the poorest children (which wouldn’t necessarily be a racial divide because black kids from the poorest neighborhoods attend schools all over the city). Her retort was that the registration form was not clear; it made it appear erroneously that children would get daily instruction if they choose remote. To be fair, one of the most outspoken critics of opening the schools believed that the virus disproportionately hurts blacks and that’s the most important thing.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to PD Shaw says:

      “The union orchestrated non-cooperation behind the scenes after the plan was approved, despite approximately 30 percent of teachers wanting in-person only, as opposed to 30 percent wanting remote only.”

      Way to be, union.Report

  17. Michele Kerr says:

    For reference, I did a bloggingheads interview with Glenn Loury on opening schools which you can see here:

    I’m definitely on Team Open, and as Kazzy says, I think Will is confusing Team Open with politicians. But the reality is that Team Close had many, many decision makers on it, whereas Team Open had very few, and they are all governors. Bluntly, if you’re on Team Open and not a governor, you have no say whatsoever in this and it’s simply inaccurate to pretend that you do.

    There’s also a whole team that WIll didn’t mention, which is Team Accountability, and this is where most actual decisionmakers lived. Absent a liability release blessed by Congress, the media and liberal furor around opening schools virtually guarantee lawsuits. So they had to look at the situation and know they would be sued if anyone got covid19. So they stayed closed and their own personal preferences were completely irrelevant. They lived in fear of the noisy team, which is Team Close–the team with the lawyers.

    I completely disagree with every single one of Will’s bullet points, although I thought his analysis of Team Close was exactly right, as was his description of risk preference (which seems vaguely familiar! I wonder who else talked about that?) But Will operates on the presumption that covid19 cases rising is Bad, whereas I think covid19 cases rising is Inevitable, and we are all wasting our time. That diffrerence drives most of the disagreement I have. Will thinks it’s reasonable to close schools if there is a covid19 case in the school, or if it becomes more prevalent, whereas I think that is absurd. We should open the schools. Full stop.

    The other primary driver of our disagreement is Will’s conviction that elementary schools is more important. That’s nuts. (and that Zearn data is useless. I’m amazed at people using it. Idiocy.) Low income kids feeling isolated is bad for them and if people are foolish enough to agree with Will and limit opening schools by groups, then I would put low income elementary school kids on par with high school kids, but high school is by *far* the greater priority, followed closely by middle school and elementary school a distant third.

    Finally, we didn’t waste the summer. There’s no better way to do this. There’s no partial way to do this. We open or we don’t. Will is angry at the wasted time because he doesn’t accept that fundamental reality, so he thinks we should have spent time trying to figure out how to do it with minimal risk. Ain’t happening.

    By the way, while I disagreed with a lot, it was a good piece.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Michele Kerr says:

      But Will operates on the presumption that covid19 cases rising is Bad, whereas I think covid19 cases rising is Inevitable, and we are all wasting our time.

      While this is true, I still think that I would rather get the covid in 2021 than in 2020. And I’d rather get it in 2022 than in 2021. It’s best to get it when we know more about it and we will know more about it tomorrow than we know about it today.

      (Then again, it was the 2nd and 3rd waves of the Spanish Flu that were the bad ones…)Report

      • Michele Kerr in reply to Jaybird says:

        It’s the opening clause that’s the point, though: your preferences aren’t going to matter. You’ll get it or you don’t. I mean, my lord, the case that began the current shutdown in New Zealand was a guy who hadn’t been out of the country. I don’t think they know how he got it.

        So all a lockdown does is minimize the chance of getting it without improving the overall situation or entirely eliminating the chance of getting it, all at profound cost. Rising cases are inevitable. Only question is how much are we willing to pay in terms of kids lives in to keep that number slightly lower without otherwise improving the situation or ending the random nature of contagion.Report

        • Swami in reply to Michele Kerr says:

          Preferences may not matter on their own, but to the extent that they influence behavior they will certainly effect one’s chances to catch the disease over the short run. The entire flatten the curve movement was based on delaying infections.Report

    • I think the main area of effort I wanted to see was an area where we had some overlap: Protecting the teachers that didn’t want in-person teaching. Some of the other things (such as a hiring push) were to fill in the gaps left by the temporary teacher shortage. On the one side districts didn’t have the resources to do the hiring and proponents of opening the schools didn’t try to procure them, and on the other side it didn’t seem like anything the districts had in mind anyway. There was more that I thought should be considered (I wish, more generally, that the energy devoted to weird hybrid plans had been devoted elsewhere), but that was the biggest one.

      There are a lot of things, such as what we think about generally and the grade school vs high school question, where we are coming at things from pretty different spaces.

      The be clear, though this:

      Will thinks it’s reasonable to close schools if there is a covid19 case in the school,

      Isn’t my position. I don’t think you can close a school based on a single case. Not even in the the “Two weeks to scrub everything down” sense, much less indefinitely. Lilgirl’s school’s plan is to shut down the class where it occurred, monitor other classes they may have had contact with, and that class comes back in two weeks maximum. I’m not committed to that protocol at all, but that’s my baseline. I expect there to be cases and you can’t shut *everything* down when they happen. I’m sure we still disagree, but I wanted to clarify that.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        One challenge for Team Open has been that different members of Team Close have presented ever-shifting goals. Our local teachers union just posted a letter citing “longstanding issues with air filters”. If these issues were longstanding, why are you citing them now… 2 weeks before school? You’ve already been guaranteed masks and face shields but now you’re mad there is no plexiglass? While I understand the shifting science may demand shifting plans, this displays disingenuousness as far as I am concerned. They waited until basically the last minute to raise an issue and are citing it as a reason for not returning.

        Others on that side have continued to shift the metrics for what is considered “safe” from a community perspective. Declining cases was the goal but then that wasn’t enough. An infection rate below 1 was the goal but then that wasn’t enough. A positive text rate within the CDC’s guidelines was the goal but then that wasn’t enough. ALL of that has been achieved and, still, it’s not enough.

        So, while Team Open leaders haven’t done much to actually facilitate opening, much of what they have done is continually said to not be enough, even though it was previously cited as what was absolutely needed.

        Which brings me back to your framing. Team Closed is just that: they want schools closed. They don’t want a safe re-opening. They want schools closed. Period.

        How is this for a proposal to teachers unions: All-remote but teachers must teach FROM school and are barred from any non-essential public outings, e.g., dining out, retail shopping, gatherings, etc. Would they agree to that? Why or why not?Report

        • Swami in reply to Kazzy says:

          Insightful comment. Question for you Kazzy…

          How effective do you think remote learning will be this year, since the close side is going to have so much sway?

          I just spent some time talking to a teacher in the lowest ranking school in a mostly Hispanic district, and he is confident that he can teach as well virtually as in person with the technology supplied by Ca schools. He explained every student is provided with a tablet and internet access. His biggest concern was parents who don’t give a darn, but that was true for every year, not just this one. He also mentioned that some teachers would have more trouble adapting than others.

          I agree with your comment that experimentation is the great opportunity here, and I suspect that one good thing coming out of this is that some places will find ways around bureaucratic inertia which may provide lasting benefits.Report

          • Philip H in reply to Swami says:

            Both as a parent, and the son of public school teacher (Whose Ed.D. was in curriculum FWIW) this is the most important statement I think you have made in this thread:

            His biggest concern was parents who don’t give a darn, but that was true for every year, not just this one. He also mentioned that some teachers would have more trouble adapting than others.

            Parental involvement has been a key to education success across racial, economic and geographic lines for ever. Its well documented and well studied. And its lowest in low income areas (regardless of race) because so much parental time is invested in securing food and shelter through work. One of the MANY reasons I have advocated for maintaining the now dead $600 federal UI supplement – and why I support UBI – is that it relieves most of the economic pressure on folks at the low end, giving them resources to better invest in their kids emotionally as well as educationally. We can ONLY make virtual learning work in my house because both my wife and I are at home working thanks to our employer. Far too many families don’t have that luxury, and thus offering them the opportunity for virtual school won’t do them any good.Report

            • Michele Kerr in reply to Philip H says:

              Yeah, the whole “parents are essential” is such a joke. Bright kids with lax parents are fine, weak kids with dedicated parents will do worse.

              Parents are usefui for compliance, but that’s about it.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                You really don’t have much respect for your parents or your students do you?Report

              • Michele Kerr in reply to Philip H says:

                So typical. If I disagree with you because I know a hell of a lot more about it than you do, the only possibility is I”m a terrible teacher.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                I don’t know anything about your pedigogical abilities. Here, in this thread, you come across as dismissive (at best) of any work any parents might do to contribute to their kids educational success. If you don’t want to be seen that way, don’t act that way.Report

              • Michele Kerr in reply to Philip H says:

                I’m not dismissive of it as an act of parenting. I am dismissive of it as an act of intellectual development. As a parent, we should all strive to help our children develop their potential. But it’s not necessary, and it won’t offset a child’s existing capacities.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                so you believe that kids don’t need elementary school? that they can just start de novo in 6th or 7th or 8th grade? And you don’t believe parents in any way shape or influence or assist that process?

                Fascinating . . ..Report

              • Michele Kerr in reply to Philip H says:

                I’m saying that the educational requirements of elementary school are pretty minimal and that parents don’t matter to the intellectual aspect. they can–and if they are good parents, will–help their kids maximize their intellectual development if the kid plays along. But the kid might not, or the kid might be driven to do so anyway, or the kid might be at the top of the development.

                Kind of uncomplicated, despite you lying to pretend I’m saying parents don’t matter at all.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Michele Kerr says:

                yo dude

                “parents are essential” is such a joke?

                Will’s conviction [is] that elementary schools is[sic] more important. That’s nuts.

                did you really not expect pushback on this?Report

            • Swami in reply to Philip H says:

              Offering virtual learning will definitely make it safer for those who can’t take advantage of it by reducing population densities and screening out those who would otherwise go to school sick. I would go further and offer up home schooling and pod schooling and private schooling. Even religious schools for this semester. All these will lower the burden when we need capacity the most.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Swami says:

                They do, which is why I happen to be in favor of many of those options. Do understand however that in many many parts of the South, religious schools (even Catholic parochial ones) have been vehicles of White Flight for a couple of generations, and thus are often better equipped technologically to engage in virtual learning in as much as they have self selected for certain economic class membership in their applications.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                “White Flight”

                Yeah, yeah. “Nobody is opposed to immigrants”, my Aunt Fanny.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Swami says:

            This is similar to what Jaybird said about homeschooling.

            There are some teachers who will do great at remote-school; at least as good as in-classroom, and sometimes even better.

            And there are students who will, similarly, learn at least as well as in a classroom, and sometimes even better.

            But the question is, what do we do about the match-up of “student who has trouble focusing outside the structured low-distraction setting of a classroom paired with a teacher who doesn’t quite know how to look at the camera and talk to a microphone”?

            It resolves to a four-box Prisoner’s Dilemma. And we know how to solve the Prisoner’s Dilemma, at least for the non-iterated game.Report

            • Michael Cain in reply to DensityDuck says:

              But the question is, what do we do about the match-up of “student who has trouble focusing outside the structured low-distraction setting of a classroom paired with a teacher who doesn’t quite know how to look at the camera and talk to a microphone”?

              When I put my 25-year-old tech research hat on, from back when I was working on multi-person multi-media communication over the internet, it seems obvious that Team Close was never really serious. If it was ever going to work well, millions of kids needed better devices. Millions of kids needed more bandwidth. New software was desperately needed. My own special interest, how to scale media intelligently when bandwidth is limited, remains a largely unsolved problem. Teachers, students, and parents needed training. Teachers needed a ton of support to build good online content.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

                “…it seems obvious that Team Close was never really serious.”

                This is where the framing matters. And Will has it right. They are not “Team Virtual School.” They are not “Team Remote Learning.” They are “Team Close.” They don’t care about the consequences of closure. They only care about the consequences of opening, specifically the negative ones, and they prioritize avoiding that over all else.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

                It seems to me that if they’re not some variation of Team Virtual Classroom, then they are implicitly Team Unemployed Teachers. In my state, K-12 education is the largest line item in the state budget. In my county, K-12 education is the largest item on everyone’s property tax bill. There’s no way teachers are going to stay on a payroll if there’s no teaching going on.Report

              • Swami in reply to Michael Cain says:

                “Team unemployed teachers.”

                Are you sure the state won’t just pay them anyways? Voters and all.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Swami says:

                I don’t think my state or county-wide district will — the state’s a billion dollars short on revenue. Are there any states/districts that have said their teachers will get a four-month paid vacation?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Teachers are gonna get paid in an all-remote environment. TAs, paras, school staff, etc. will not. Administrators will.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy says:

                Isn’t there a role for TAs and paras in a virtual classroom?Report

            • Swami in reply to DensityDuck says:

              “But the question is, what do we do about the match-up…”

              Just spitballing here, but how about redirecting some of that capitalist bail-out money toward a commitment that every parent can get a quality education, virtual or in person, for their children? To the extent the sclerotic government monopoly fails to rise to the challenge, parents will be reimbursed up to $X to find a suitable alternative?

              Funny how the problems with cops and teachers both traces back to rent seeking governmental employee unions. Must be a wild coincidence as nobody would have ever predicted any potential problems with unionized government service monopolies in bed with politicians.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Swami says:

                ” how about redirecting some of that capitalist bail-out money toward a commitment that every parent can get a quality education, virtual or in person, for their children? ”

                Zuckerberg gave a couple hundred million dollars to a single city’s schools and it did nothing. Simple straight-up flat-out money is not the issue here.

                “To the extent the sclerotic government monopoly fails to rise to the challenge, parents will be reimbursed up to $X to find a suitable alternative?”

                Goes back to what I said before. What do you do about the kid who just can’t learn except in a school, and the teacher who just can’t teach except in a school, and the parent who just can’t take time off to stay home and do what’s needed to make it work anyway? Do you set up your system so that you can’t ever ever ever have that situation occur, no matter what that does to top-end performers’ potential achievements? (Can you morally justify doing anything else, though?)Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Swami says:

            Well, I think the answer here depends on what our goals of school are.

            Do you want kids to learn their ABCs/123s? Yea, that can probably be done pretty effectively for most kids by most teachers virtually.

            Do we want more than that? Socialization? Learning how to function in a group? Etc? That is a lot harder to do virtually.

            So, the answer to your question is… it depends. But my hunch is the vast majority of kids will get much less from virtual school than actual schools imply because everyone leading virtual school is basically doing it for the first time. And by folks with varying degrees of motivation.Report

      • Will, I should have been more specific. I don’t think you should shut down for any situation period, whereas you have a baseline in which schools do shut down, either a class or a school. You also think school reopening should be based on case incidence, whereas I think it’s irrelevant.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

      But Will operates on the presumption that covid19 cases rising is Bad, whereas I think covid19 cases rising is Inevitable, and we are all wasting our time.

      Spoken like a person in or immediately adjacent to an urban area with great funding for and access to hospital care. Here in Mississippi we have lost 5 rural hospitals in the last 6 years – which while not appearing to be hugely important still means COVID patients in our rural counties have to go somewhere else, further overburdening urban hospitals, who themselves have higher patient counts these days for the same reason. Thus anything that drive infection rates up – including asympomatic spread by kids, is a health care delivery problem.

      I would put low income elementary school kids on par with high school kids, but high school is by *far* the greater priority, followed closely by middle school and elementary school a distant third.

      While i can agree that low income kids need school for many reasons, I can’t get behind your other assertions. The foundational learning being done in elementary school can’t be replaced – and elementary kids are mental sponges. Our 6 year old greatly expanded his math and counting skills over the summer by playing Cribbage with his older siblings. That sort of adaptability doesn’t come along later, and can’t be replicated no matter how good a teacher is.

      Finally, we didn’t waste the summer. There’s no better way to do this. There’s no partial way to do this. We open or we don’t.

      Many districts DID waste the summer, and are now scrambling to deal with a situation that isn’t actually what they thought they would have. Schools here didn’t start to try to acquire additional technology for kids who needed it until school started. There are in fact many better bad ways to do this, but most of them involve and honest reckoning with the inherent flaws of underfunding school systems, and we are not willing to have conversation apparently.Report

      • Michele Kerr in reply to Philip H says:

        Philip, at the end of the day you either think the kids get educated or you hold them hostage to the community. Doesn’t matter where you are.

        “The foundational learning being done in elementary school can’t be replaced – and elementary kids are mental sponges.”

        That’s just wrong. Elementary school is 6 years of repetition. As I’ve said a few times, many parents are just obsessed with the notion that if their kid hits milestone X by date Y, it has some meaning, and it really doesn’t.

        As for the rest, you’re just wrong. They didn’t waste it. Don ‘t fool yourself into thinking there’s a better way of doing remote ed.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

          Don’t fool yourself into thinking your experience matches the rest of the districts in the nation. Most districts in Mississippi didn’t plan for remote ed until their parents began attending school board meetings and practically screaming at boards to do so. Ditto many other southern states.

          Elementary school kids are mental sponges, natural scientists etc. Its not about meeting a given milestone (I have 5 kids who all mastered reading at different points and through different processes) – but its about continuing to challenge them so they continue to absorb more stuff and grow their brain synapses. Biologically you get a certain window to do that.Report

          • Michele Kerr in reply to Philip H says:

            I’m not the one confusing my experience with reality.

            Not sure why you think your Mississippi example has anything to do with the point. What you seem to be missing is that planning for remote ed wouldn’t make it any better.

            ” its about continuing to challenge them so they continue to absorb more stuff and grow their brain synapses.”

            Yep! The acceleration delusion.Report

            • Philip H in reply to Michele Kerr says:

              Not sure why you think your Mississippi example has anything to do with the point. What you seem to be missing is that planning for remote ed wouldn’t make it any better.

              Lack of planning and prep means low income folks and those without internet access can not take advantage (for any reason) of virtual learning because districts have not acquired the resources to provide it to them. Lack of planning means districts appear to be uncaring about their diverse student populations. And yes, lack of planning means that methods that can be effective in delivering educational materials to students remotely are not at the ready for teachers when they need them – to say nothing of the training to those teachers to deliver their lessons in non-traditional ways.

              As to your acceleration delusion argument – you need something better then that. The biology underpinning earning has been well known for many decades. Heck, there are even videos available of new synapses forming in MRI images as kids learn. And while i get it that you PREFER in person learning, your dismissal of both the value of younger children’s learning and of parents interests in fostering that learning are VERY concerning for an educational professional.Report

  18. Will Truman says:

    Hey all, just wanted to say the comment zone here has just been phenomenal here. Great, great discussion. I really appreciate it.Report

  19. TGGP says:

    You know all of those things about how important “early intervention” is?

    I think a lot of that traces to the “Heckman curve”, which turns out to have little empirical basis.Report