When someone pleads ignorance regarding the Holocaust, fire him twice!

“Florida Principal Who Wouldn’t Call Holocaust ‘Factual’ Is Fired Again” (NYT):

A high school principal in Florida whose refusal to acknowledge the Holocaust as a “factual, historical event” in an email led to a national backlash, his firing and then his rehiring has been fired for a second time.

The Palm Beach County school board on Tuesday voted 7 to 0 to fire the principal, William Latson, who was removed from his post last year at Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Fla., after a 2018 email exchange with a student’s parent became public.

What did the guy say?

“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee,” Mr. Latson stated in one of the emails, which were obtained by The Palm Beach Post. Mr. Latson said he had to stay “politically neutral” and separate his personal views about the Holocaust from his job as a public school official.

“I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly,” he wrote. “I do the same with information about slavery.”

His answer would have been perfect for a deposition. He wasn’t alive in the 1940s. He is not a historian. He doesn’t have any better information regarding what happened during the 1940s than anyone else. Being a school system administrator does not qualify him to offer a history lesson. Also, he did clarify his personal beliefs regarding this period of history:

“I am not a Holocaust denier,” he says in the video. “I have never been a Holocaust denier. I am sorry that my comments caused people to think that.”

What was the point of firing this guy (twice!)? Just to show that even a hint of dissent cannot be tolerated?

Full post, including comments

Racialized groups in our local public school

From the folks who will, if all goes according to plan, eventually occupy what will be the most expensive (per-student) school ever constructed in the United States:

Dear faculty, staff, parents, and guardians,

As you know the district has partnered with NCBI (National Coalition Building Institute) to support us in our work to become an antiracist district and our larger AIDE work (antiracism, inclusion, diversity, and equity). One of the many facets of our plan this year is for NCBI to conduct focus groups with a series of stakeholders including students, parents/guardians, and district staff.

The list below shows all of the focus groups we plan to hold over the coming two months:

Boston-resident students in METCO program grades 4-6
Boston-resident students in METCO program grades 7-8
Lincoln-resident students in grades 4-8 who identify as Black, biracial, or mixed
Lincoln-resident students in grades 4-8 who identity as part of other racialized groups (LatinX, Indigenous, Asian-American, Middle Eastern)
Lincoln-resident students in grades 4-8 who identify as White

What’s a “raciliazed group”? From Wikipedia:

In sociology, racialization or ethnicization is the process of ascribing ethnic or racial identities to a relationship, social practice, or group that did not identify itself as such. Racialization or ethnicization often arises out of the interaction of a group with a group that it dominates and ascribes a racial identity to for the purpose of continued domination; over time, the racialized and ethnicized group often gradually identifies with and even embraces this identity and thus becomes a self-ascribed race or ethnicity. These processes have been common throughout the history of imperialism, nationalism, and racial and ethnic hierarchies.

With almost everyone, except for Donald Trump, dropping dead from COVID-19, how important is this?

We recognize that everyone has a lot going on in life now — and we also believe that it is important for us to dedicate time to listening to the experiences of our fellow community members.

I would love to know who these people are who have “a lot going on in life now”!

Full post, including comments

Testing will end coronaplague, but quarantine anyway…

From the local K-8 school…

I am writing to inform you that a student … has tested positive for COVID-19. All families with students in the impacted cohort have been notified and their children were picked up from school immediately. Our first responsibility is to keep our students and staff safe.

(In case you thought their first responsibility was education!)

We have been planning for this scenario during our reopening planning process and have a comprehensive plan in place to sanitize the school, inform families whose students were at risk of exposure or in close contact, and support the affected family as they navigate this stressful experience.

Our student body and staff have been closely adhering to the safety protocols including mask wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing.

(But we don’t believe that any of this stuff actually works, which is why what might be a false positive test leads us to shut down a “cohort” of the school?)

We are grateful to our families for their continued efforts to keep students home at the first sign of symptoms. These measures, taken in combination, greatly reduce the risk of additional transmission.
Though we cannot provide specific information about our school community member who tested positive, your child was not a close contact (defined as being within 6 feet of the person for at least 15 minutes) of the affected school member. Please continue to monitor your child for symptoms, and keep your child home if he/she/they shows any symptoms or is not feeling well.

Parents of students who were in close contact with the community member have been notified separately. All close contacts should be tested but must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of test result.

(Testing is critical for prevailing in the war that we’ve declared on this virus, but we are going to throw out the test results and quarantine everyone regardless.)

Some good news for Chlorox:

To further prevent transmission of the virus to other staff and students, we have disinfected the school with a focus on those areas frequented by the community member that tested positive. We will continue to be vigilant in adhering to all of the protocols that have been put in place in an effort to continue in person learning.

But they close the school every afternoon at 1:45 pm, a shortened school day compared to the old 2:50 pm. I had thought this was so that school employees, who can’t be expected to work past 3 pm, would have time to douse everything with Chlorox. If everything is already disinfected daily, what is this going to be? Double secret disinfection?

Full post, including comments

Now that teachers are trained to do online teaching, why won’t they teach when the school building is closed?

The World’s Greatest Infrastructure (TM) met a cold front on the evening of the Vice Presidential debate. (Did the candidates talk about underground power lines or self-healing “smart grids” that will route around a downed line? (the technology has been available for more than a decade, e.g., from Hitachi ABB))

Power came back around 1:00 am, but #AbundanceOfCaution dictated that our local public school be closed. Email at11 pm from the superintendent:

Dear Lincoln School Families and Staff,

The power outage on the Lincoln campus has not yet been resolved. In addition, there are multiple trees down and road closures. As a result, we must cancel school on Thursday, October 8, 2020. The Lincoln campus will be closed. All employees excluding facilities staff and IT staff should not report to work.

The teachers purportedly had three months of experience in the spring providing online education (one email on Monday morning with some assignments; hosting a couple of video chats during the week). The teachers union negotiated a multi-week delay to the start of the school year here in Maskachusetts so that teachers could receive training on how to deliver online education #EvenBetter.

So… when the school building is closed, as it would be on a snow day, education soldiers on via Internet, right? The teachers and students work together from their respective homes? The answer turns out to be… No!

(The morning after this email was received, Senior Management noted that my failure to take a plate from the table to the dishwasher. I responded that I was following the lead of our public employees and that I would work only if conditions were ideal, e.g., if the plate did not need to be scraped and the dishwasher door were already open. She then asked why she could not use the same criteria for her own domestic efforts. I responded that, in the U.S., only about half of the adults could work for the government and therefore she had to be one of the private sector workers exposed to COVID-19, working 70 hours/week, etc. She replied that soon the U.S. would transition to socialism and everyone would be a government employee and thus we had to share kitchen tasks equally.)

Related:

Full post, including comments

Schools are closed so that teachers don’t die, but nobody is worried about folks under 70 in the D.C. epidemic?

As some of you may have heard, an epidemic of coronavirus has finally reached the rich and powerful in Washington, D.C. One infected soul (or soul-less?) is Donald J. Trump, age 74. The progress of his COVID-19 encounter mesmerized Americans, but I never saw any coverage of people concerned about deaths or serious long-term health consequences for the under-70 politicians and staff. From this can we infer that Americans don’t think that COVID-19 is hazardous for those under-70? (Maskachusetts removed the age-related statistics from its dashboard in mid-August, but the memories may linger!)

On the other hand, we are informed that schools have to be kept closed to protect students. When science deniers object that no person under 20 has ever died from/with COVID-19 here in MA, for example, the School Shutdown Karen shifts gears to say that it is, in fact, teachers who have to be protected. But unionized public school teachers can retire with full inflation-adjusted pension benefits and unlimited health insurance when they’re in their 50s. So there shouldn’t actually be anyone over 70 in a school building.

How to explain the apparent logical discrepancy?

Some background from the Official Newspaper of the Shutdown Karens, “‘I Don’t Want to Go Back’: Many Teachers Are Fearful and Angry Over Pressure to Return” (NYT, July):

“I want to serve the students, but it’s hard to say you’re going to sacrifice all of the teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and bus drivers,” said Hannah Wysong, a teacher at the Esperanza Community School in Tempe, Ariz., where virus cases are increasing.

On social media, teachers across the country promoted the hashtag #14daysnonewcases, with some pledging to refuse to enter classrooms until the coronavirus transmission rate in their counties falls, essentially, to zero.

From Mini Mike, “Teachers Sue to Keep Schools Shut as Parents Demand They Reopen” (Bloomberg, July):

The Florida Education Association, a group of teachers unions, filed suit Monday to block an emergency order to reopen schools next month despite a spike in coronavirus infections. Meanwhile, a lawsuit in New York is seeking to ensure that schools there aren’t closed for the fall term.

On the other end of the argument, a woman and her two children in Brooklyn last week filed suit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is still deciding whether to allow schools to reopen this fall. The suit claims the state’s order to keep schools shut thus far and offer only online instruction is unconstitutional because it leads to disparate treatment for students with special needs.

From North Carolina, this month, “Wake teachers warn board that reopening schools will put people at risk of dying” (they don’t have “Woke teachers” like we do here in the Boston suburbs?):

“It’s heartbreaking for me as a teacher because I want to see my students so badly in person, and they’re really struggling,” said Ginny Clayton, a teacher at Cary High School. “But that’s not the criteria for coming back to school — it’s safety. We ultimately have to do what’s right by our kids by keeping them safe.”

“Every meeting should be about getting our kids back into school,” said Christine Hale, a Wake parent. “Nothing should be more important to the Board of Education than education.

The board’s decision to reopen schools has angered many teachers, especially because the majority of principals wanted to continue having online classes for students in fourth through eighth grades for the rest of the semester.

Readers: If teachers aged 22-57 have a significant risk of dying from COVID-19, as the teacher unions say, why didn’t we see a lot of stories about people concerned regarding the health of Melania Trump (age 50)? From the NYT:

Many of these political brothers/sisters/binary resisters appear to be roughly the same age (or beyond) as a senior school teacher. Why aren’t the people who want to keep schools shut concerned for their well-being in the face of the killer coronavirus?

Afternoon update, from a school in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, “Keep Our Learners Safe”:

The adults are altruistically keeping the children safe from a disease that has never killed anyone their age in their state (nor in Maskachusetts, through mid-August when the statistics began to be withheld).

Full post, including comments

COVID-19 in the school that shut down to avoid COVID-19

From September 23: Teachers at our local high school may go into work soon:

I am very disappointed to share that I learned this morning that there was a crowded indoor and outdoor student party Friday evening that involved alcohol and complete lack of safety precautions to protect against the spread of COVID. Police were called to the scene. An estimated number of 15 students ran into the woods. They collected names from 32 other individuals. 13 of those turned out to be made up names. That means at least 13 plus 15 (28) known to be on site are unaccounted for. If these students had been identified they could be requested to be isolated from school, monitored and tested.

The Sudbury Board of Health is stating that we must start school in remote learning for 14 days from the known incident. On the assumption that students involved are more likely juniors or seniors I asked if we could bring in just 9th and 10th graders. The answer is no, because we don’t know that no younger students were involved or that students involved were not siblings of younger students. … We plan to return to in-person hybrid on Tuesday, September 29th.

Email to parents today:

We were notified before noon today that one of our students tested positive for COVID. Per our protocol we trace all possible contacts up to two days prior to the onset of symptoms and let those people know as soon as possible. The contact tracing connected to L-S school related contacts has been completed. All so close contacts have been informed.

The student has a sibling who is a student and has shared rides with another student. The student who tested positive was also in close contact with another different student. The sibling and these other two students are all deemed close contacts and will need to be quarantined a minimum of 14 days. A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for more than 15 minutes.

The student also rode to school on a bus in the mornings. The bus driver and other riders confirm that assigned seating and mask protocols were not adhered to on this bus. A letter to remind riders of the importance of such protocols was sent to families at the start of this week. Because a rider has tested positive during the time protocols were not adhered to the entire bus of students is deemed to be close contacts and will need to be quarantined for 14 days.

All students who need to stay at home and quarantine have been notified. As in any case where an extended student absence is anticipated all teachers of that student will be notified through the house offices.

School is open… half the day for each child two days per week, except for those students who are now in forced quarantine.

Related:

Full post, including comments

Why didn’t we adjust the school calendar to avoid cold/flu season?

The good news is that everyone here in Maskachusetts is wearing a mask in nearly all indoor and most outdoor venues. Thanks to 52+ governor’s orders, much remains shut down and/or capacity-restricted. We have an endless river of Chlorox for sanitizing and those schools that are vaguely open, for example, discharge students early so that the sanitizing process can begin at 12 or 1 pm.

The better news, for the viruses that cause common colds, is that none of this has prevented the common cold from thriving and hopping from human to human. The Boston area seems to be in the grip of a full-scale cold epidemic (of course, because colds are not COVID-19, nobody is bother is gather statistics).

Half of the parents whom I meet when out walking Mindy the Crippler or interacting with folks at the airport, etc., have now been presented with the task of keeping children home for 14 days following the sniffles, an upset stomach, a headache, or any other symptom that might conceivably be COVID-19. An alternative is to get a child tested for coronaplague, but that turns out not to be simple. The state, with its infinite river of IT $$, has a web site that shows testing centers near a given zip code. But it is not integrated with availability from those centers. So the hapless parent then gets to work a web browser and telephone for several hours trying to find an available test slot. This is nearly impossible because every other parent whose child had a symptom is also trying to do this.

I’m wondering now why we didn’t start the school year in June, at which point the coronavirus was mostly burned out here in Massachusetts (restaurants reopened then, for example) and set things up with outdoor classes under shade structures and a break from November through February, the prime cold/flu season.

(How am I doing? After consuming more Sudafed than a meth lab, my congestion is mostly resolved.)

Related:

Full post, including comments

Teachers at our local high school may go into work soon

One of our local high schools was supposed to start up on September 16, providing two mornings per week of in-person instruction (total of 6 hours per week of free daycare!) and the rest via Zoom (“hybrid”).

From the principal of Lincoln-Sudbury High School, on September 12:

I am very disappointed to share that I learned this morning that there was a crowded indoor and outdoor student party Friday evening that involved alcohol and complete lack of safety precautions to protect against the spread of COVID. Police were called to the scene. An estimated number of 15 students ran into the woods. They collected names from 32 other individuals. 13 of those turned out to be made up names. That means at least 13 plus 15 (28) known to be on site are unaccounted for. If these students had been identified they could be requested to be isolated from school, monitored and tested.

The Sudbury Board of Health is stating that we must start school in remote learning for 14 days from the known incident. On the assumption that students involved are more likely juniors or seniors I asked if we could bring in just 9th and 10th graders. The answer is no, because we don’t know that no younger students were involved or that students involved were not siblings of younger students. … We plan to return to in-person hybrid on Tuesday, September 29th.

I agree completely with the Board of Health that this is the most prudent course of action to take given what has taken place. After the intensity of hard work and planning that has been done to be able to start school with students in-person we are profoundly disappointed at this sudden change of plans. I know you must be as disappointed.

… If one person assumes risky behavior upon themselves it is not fair or safe to bring that risk upon others in a shared community.

So… because roughly 50 of the 1500 students chose to exercise what had been their First Amendment Right to Assemble (off campus, presumably at a parent’s house), the teachers don’t have to run any risk of in-person exposure.

(Masks and all-afternoon sanitization prevent coronavirus from spreading student-to-student or student-to-teacher, which is why tremendous efforts are put into masks and why the school is closed all afternoon every afternoon for sanitization. On the other hand, just in case a single student at the party might have had coronavirus, we can’t possible open up our masked-and-sanitized school.)

I wonder if they can keep this going for the rest of the school year, as a friend’s daughter predicted: “Dad, they’ll eventually find a way to have remote only.” Suppose that a teacher says that he/she/ze/they saw a student in the local supermarket. The student looked familiar, but it was difficult to tell who he/she/ze/they was due to the mask. Said mask was being worn under the nose, rendering him/her/zir/them completely unprotected against coronaplague. The teacher also saw some other customers in the supermarket with loosely fitted bandanas and under-the-nose masks. The school needs to be shut down, right?

Related:

  • “Parents And Teen Charged Over Party Which Forced High School Into Remote Learning” (Newsweek), noting that the school was forced to close: Sudbury Police Chief Scott Nix … said the large group of youths were allegedly “disregarding state mandated social distancing and face covering protocols” and several party attendees “made threatening comments towards the responding officers”. Sudbury Police Chief Scott Nix said that the parents involved as being responsible for the party have been charged in Framingham District Court with providing alcohol to minors and violating Massachusetts Social Host Law. Under the state law anyone “who is in control of the premises and who furnishes alcohol or allows it to be consumed on those premises” constitutes as a social host and may face fines, imprisonment or both.
Full post, including comments

New email signatures for white teachers in all-white suburb

The overwhelmingly white unionized public school teachers in our nearly all-white, all-Asian suburb have begun appending, in a red font, the following signature text to every email message…

Lincoln Public Schools are united in standing with those who are calling out ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country and calling for acknowledgement of humanity in one another. This is not just an issue for black and brown people, but an issue that impacts all of our futures. We must:

  • Listen to each other, showing compassion and empathy
  • Never turn our backs on senseless brutality [ordinary brutality is okay?]
  • Continue to denounce injustices
  • Unify our voices to create systemic change

During this painful time, let us work together to be a light to break the darkness that silence can bring. Let us facilitate education, healing, connection, and let us support each other and our communities. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution and we must work together to ensure that there is justice for all.

[Note that relaxing the two-acre zoning minimum so that black and brown people could afford to move into our suburb is not mentioned. And we’re supposed to listen (free), not pay reparations (costly).]

Maybe they will show up to work in these T-shirts?

and for the feet…

Related:

Full post, including comments

How’s the first day of school where you live?

Here in Maskachusetts, today is the first day for public schoolteachers to teach. Negotiations with the union resulted in a startup delay of more than two weeks so that teachers could receive training and come up with a plan for the various bizarre forms of teaching that they’re going to be doing. Plainly there was no way for the teachers to do any prep in April, May, June, July, or August. (Private school teachers figured out how to teach remotely back in March, sometimes in only a day or two; see Massachusetts private school students zoom ahead.)

A popular system here seems to be “hybrid” in which students will attend school in-person two mornings per week and the rest of the time is “learning at home” (i.e., Xbox; back in 2009 it was the adults who were on the 99 weeks of Xbox plan!)

Another feature is that the school days are shortened. Where they previously escaped at 2:50 pm, now the school day ends at 1:45 pm. The reason for this is unclear. A teacher told me that it was to give teachers additional time to plan assignments and that teachers would never be expected to interact with students after 1:45 pm.

A friend in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania shared a plan from the public school system there (featured for its mediocrity in Smartest Kids in the World: Poland). Students will attend school Monday through Thursday, but then be dumped on the parents on Fridays. If it is safe for the students to attend Monday through Thursday, why can’t they also go Friday? If it is unsafe to be at the school on Fridays, why it is safe for them to be there Monday through Thursday?

These schedules, which feature a lot of time at home, seem ideal for boosting the pay of tutors and also for increasing inequality. “Parents are spending $70,000 for their kids to learn in ‘pods’” (New York Post):

Now that most NYC-area schools have released their plans for the upcoming school year, with a combination of remote and in-person learning, parents of elite students are scrambling to supplement what they believe will inevitably be lost if students aren’t in the classroom — by hiring private educators.

Known as “pods,” small groups of four to 10 students in the same grade led by a tutor or teacher, have become the solution for weary and wealthy parents who are paying thousands of dollars — on top of five-figure private school tuitions — for the extra help monitoring kids during their school’s remote learning schedule.

Christopher Rim, founder of the education and college consulting firm Command Education, has been inundated with calls from “desperate parents” demanding leaders for pods that they’ve created with other families. He’s already staffed four pods in the Hamptons with tutors and expects to close in on 10 by the time the school year begins, with kids expected to rotate learning at a different home each week. One Water Mill parent already volunteered her 13-bedroom manse as the permanent home base of her kid’s 11th-grade four-person learning pod. He charges $3,500 a week per student, but offers a flat rate of $70,000 per kid if you pay the whole year up front, which covers 30 weeks of school.

Rim, a 25-year-old Yale grad with a BA in psychology who started the company in 2015 out of his dorm room, trains his tutors, who are all Ivy-league educated and under 30 years old. Some have teaching degrees and are certified to teach in public schools but not all. Said Rim, “This is not a replacement for school. This is not an accredited program. This is a supplement to make sure the students are on track.” All his tutors will be tested for COVID weekly, and will follow CDC guidelines for social-distancing whenever possible.

It’s also a matter of pride. Parents aren’t broadcasting the fact that they’re spending $70,000 a year on top of the $50,000 private school tuition to friends, Rim said, because “They don’t want other parents to gossip about them, that their kid needs a tutor in order to survive the school year.”

Readers: Any good tales from your necks of the woods?

Full post, including comments