One of the latest orders from the Maskachusetts governor is that children will be denied a K-12 education if they don’t submit to a flu vaccination. (In ancient times, of course, this could be conveniently obtained at the school itself in about 30 seconds, from a public health nurse with a gun, but today this will involve more than 20 minutes of paperwork at a CVS or similar.)
So everyone in the school building will have a reduced chance of getting the flu? There was a discussion about this on the town mailing list. The righteous who attended a School Committee meeting reported that the bureaucrats concluded that they lacked the power to force the teachers to accept the needle.
(How effective is the flu vaccine? Not effective enough for the British medical technocrats to recommend it for those between 11 and 65 years of age (Oxford; NHS), perhaps partly because “Over time, protection from the injected flu vaccine gradually decreases and flu strains often change.” (NHS). If the Brits are correct, perhaps the current American zeal for flu shots will lead to a lot of flu deaths among the elderly 10-20 years from now. See “Repeated flu shots may blunt effectiveness” (CMAJ, 2015))
In other coronaplague news, the town decided not to defer construction of what seems to be, on a per-student basis, the most expensive school ever built in the United States. They started demolishing the old building in June, as planned. Instead of the old building plus the temporary trailers, therefore, the school will try to operate within half of the old building and the trailers. In other words, they affirmatively decided to reduce the square footage per student in the middle of a raging viral epidemic.
“Brazil’s Bolsonaro says COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory” (Reuters): “Many people want the vaccine to be applied in a coercive way, but there is no law that provides for that,” Bolsonaro said in a Facebook live chat with his supporters. … “There is no way for the government – unless we live in a dictatorship – to force everyone to get vaccinated,” Mourão said in a radio interview.
Most California schools may remain closed when the academic year begins in the fall, according to new state directives, with a majority of campuses likely having to shift to distance-learning instead.
The new requirements stipulate how and when schools may reopen for in-person learning when the academic school year begin. … Under the new rules, a county must also not be on a list of counties being monitored for rising coronavirus infections. Thirty-two of the states 58 counties currently don’t hit that benchmark. To open schools for in-person instruction, those counties would have to be off that list for 14 consecutive days, according to the directives.
The directives are on the heels of announcements that some of the state’s largest districts had already decided to enter the academic year with no in-person classes. Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco all recently said they planned online-only learning when students returned.
This makes sense for a population whose only goal in life is avoiding Covid-19 infection. But why wait for the fall? Given that students already missed a lot academically during what would have been the spring semester, wouldn’t it make sense for K-12 to start up right now for any student who wants to try to catch up? Supposedly, the schools and teachers that did a lame job with online education in June will be doing an awesome job in September. But why not start with the awesomeness tomorrow, for example?
“Virtual charter schools and online learning during COVID-19” (Brookings): We find the impact of attending a virtual charter on student achievement is uniformly and profoundly negative, equating to a third of a standard deviation in English/language arts (ELA) and a half of a standard deviation in math. … In contrast, we find that students who attended brick-and-mortar charters have achievement no different from their traditional public school peers
Friends have a son who had planned to head into Lincoln-Sudbury High School for 9th grade. The superintendent/principal (remarkably, the same person does both jobs in this one-school school system), sent an email to parents:
As you may recall from earlier communications, we are required to develop three learning plans for the opening of school: 100% all remote, hybrid in-person and remote, and 100% in-person. We are required to submit the learning plans to the state by July 31st after approval by the L-S School Committee. The state is also requesting that we indicate which plan we anticipate utilizing when we reopen school this fall. The School Committee is scheduled to take its vote at its meeting scheduled for July 28.
As stated in the preamble for the initial draft for fall opening it is my recommendation that we reopen school with a hybrid of in-person and remote learning and not 100% in-person. This recommendation is based on the challenge of ensuring a safe environment with 100% students in school all at one time and the compromise to delivery of instruction. Maintaining 3’ separation would significantly compromise delivery of instruction in all science classes. Maintaining 6’ separation significantly compromises delivery of instruction in all classes. And, finally, maintaining a strict protocol of social distancing and disinfection during lunch periods, mask breaks and travel through the school between classes is not feasible with 100% in-person.
[Why a limit based on “disinfection” if masks are the answer (the link below says “All staff and students wearing masks”) and if “science” now tells us that people are getting coronaplague from aerosols, not from funky surfaces?]
On Monday, the students tracked into “Cohort A” will attend school from 8:25 am to noon on Mondays and from 8:25-11:05 on Thursdays.
I asked the father of the 14-year-old boy who is headed into this arrangement why the teenage boys sitting at home wouldn’t play shooter games during all of the time that they should supposedly be in “remote learning” or “independent activity”. He responded “One of them was doing that already, according to [the son]”.
Will we go back to the Victorian era when families of even slightly above-average means hire private tutors to come to the house?
Also, won’t this heavily favor students who happen to live in super-sized McMansions? They can have a dedicated classroom, not just a desk in a cluttered “room room”.
(Note that teachers will presumably have to clock in four mornings per week in order to collect a full-time paycheck.)
“School closures ‘a mistake’ as no teachers infected in classroom” (The Times of London): Scientists are yet to find a single confirmed case of a teacher catching coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world, a leading epidemiologist has said. Mark Woolhouse, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Edinburgh University, offered reassurance to staff preparing for the full reopening of schools next month. (i.e., the science is settled, but is completely different in Europe, the UK, the U.S.)
What if the License Raj in a U.S. state makes it illegal to operate K-12 schools once again, as was done in most states back in March? Could American rebels reboot the Irish hedge school tradition? From Wikipedia:
Hedge schools (Irish names include scoil chois claí, scoil ghairid and scoil scairte) were small informal illegal schools, particularly in 18th- and 19th-century Ireland, designed to secretly provide the rudiments of primary education to children of ‘non-conforming’ faiths (Catholic and Presbyterian). Under the penal laws only schools for those of the Anglican faith were allowed. Instead Catholics and Presbyterians set up highly informal secret operations that met in private homes.
Historians generally agree that they provided a kind of schooling, occasionally at a high level, for up to 400,000 students by the mid-1820s. J. R. R. Adams says the hedge schools testified “to the strong desire of ordinary Irish people to see their children receive some sort of education.” Antonia McManus argues that there “can be little doubt that Irish parents set a high value on a hedge school education and made enormous sacrifices to secure it for their children….[the hedge schoolteacher was] one of their own”.
While the “hedge school” label suggests the classes took place outdoors (next to a hedgerow), classes were normally held in a house or barn.
From my rain-soaked May/June 2019 trip to Ireland:
Also, is this another example of a Constitutional right that Americans have lost due to the governor-declared emergencies? The Fourteenth Amendment was used to require school integration because of the Equal Protection Clause. How can states re-segregate their schools in light of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of this clause?
“N.Y.C. Schools, Nation’s Largest District, Will Not Fully Reopen in Fall” (NYT): Classroom attendance in September will be limited to only one to three days a week in an effort to continue to curb the outbreak, the mayor said. … The decision to opt for only a partial reopening, which is most likely the only way to accommodate students in school buildings while maintaining social distancing, may hinder hundreds of thousands of parents from returning to their pre-pandemic work lives, undermining the recovery of the sputtering local economy. [Wouldn’t the parents be better off moving to a state with (a) fully open schools, and (b) good Internet connectivity?]
“Research Shows Students Falling Months Behind During Virus Disruptions” (NYT): “When all of the impacts are taken into account, the average student could fall seven months behind academically, while black and Hispanic students could experience even greater learning losses, equivalent to 10 months for black children and nine months for Latinos, according to an analysis from McKinsey & Company, the consulting group.”
Do you send out one email every Monday morning and then host a couple of group video chats later in the week? You’re a hero!
Educators will continue their heroic efforts from this spring and will work hard to make our schools ready for our students this fall. Educators, through their unions and in collaboration with students and families, must play a central decision-making role in the return-to-school plan, district by district. Ultimately, we will decide if these directives have been met by the state and the districts.
Everywhere that the schools previously had a rainbow there will now be a double rainbow:
We cannot go back to the status quo, which was actively harming many of our youth, families, and educators of color, as well as people from other marginalized groups, including our LGBTQ+ students. We must instead be bold and create free and equitable schools where education liberates and empowers our youth so a brighter future is possible for all of us.
[among the “Key Directives”] Curriculum must reflect and affirm our LGBTQ+ students.
This is a bit odd when you think about it. LGBTQIA+ students weren’t being reflected and affirmed previously. I am sure that we will all agree that this was a terrible situation. But who created that situation if not the very unionized teachers who now say that the situation must end? What was stopping them from reflecting and affirming LGBTQIA+ students six hours per day every day?
There is one Key Directive that is worth putting in bold:
Eliminate MCAS and reevaluate the ways our public schools are assessed.
In other words, the only objective test of student learning has to be tossed out. (Admittedly, the raw MCAS does not measure school performance that well since the children of well-educated parents tend to score highly even if their teachers don’t teach anything.)
Teachers should be hired and promoted based on skin color:
We must prioritize hiring, retaining and promoting educators of color.
But will the older white teachers resign or subject themselves to firing in the event of poor performance in order to make room for educators of color?
Here’s a principle that I can support wholeheartedly:
Every student — and every educator — deserves access to the basic tools of a modern society: a computer and reliable internet access.
Would someone please tell this to Comcast?
As soon as the first person anywhere in the state gets a fever in November and a positive coronavirus test, the teachers will go back home to their pets and gardens:
Educators must be supported with … effective practices for crisis learning remotely.
Districts must provide support … if we are again forced to return to crisis learning remotely.
One fact that I learned about a private school was that they have already wired up every classroom with video cameras so that students who need to stay home for any reason can participate remotely and see what is going on in the physical class.
The MTA is a union of 116,000 educators … We are entering a dangerous and unknown peak period of this pandemic. … We present these demands of local and state officials …
Keep schools closed statewide for as long as necessary to ensure the health of students, faculty, and staff. No educator should be required to come to work when schools are closed for students. Any vulnerable staff should be able to stay home with no loss of pay or benefits.
All educators – full-time, part-time, hourly and per-diem workers, including teachers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and substitute teachers – must be fully paid during this time,
Guarantee that pay and pensions are not affected by the pandemic.
Declare a moratorium on all educator evaluations
Based on the above, I don’t think my friend is going to get that property tax refund he had been expecting based on the fact that his middle schoolers did not receive any education after mid March.
[Our own town of Lincoln, Massachusetts will presumably be one of the last to reopen its schools due to the fact that the square footage is going to be dramatically reduced via a $110 million construction project that moves children into cramped trailers with minimal windows and doors from 2020 through 2023:
They couldn’t find a place to build a new building on the 70-acre campus (above) while continuing to use the old building.]
State reopening guidance (June 25): “Schools do not appear to have played a major role in COVID-19 transmission. … Students in grade 2 and above are required to wear a mask/face covering that covers their nose and mouth. Students in kindergarten and grade 1 should be encouraged to wear a mask/face covering. … Mask breaks should occur throughout the day. Breaks should occur when students can be six feet apart and ideally outside or at least with the windows open. … aim for desks to be spaced six feet apart (but no fewer than three feet apart)” (in other words, elementary school children do not spread coronaplague, but let’s make them wear masks anyway)
“Research Shows Students Falling Months Behind During Virus Disruptions” (nytimes, June 5): The average student could begin the next school year having lost as much as a third of the expected progress from the previous year in reading and half of the expected progress in math… A separate analysis of 800,000 students from researchers at Brown and Harvard looked at how Zearn, an online math program, was used both before and after schools closed in March. It found that through late April, student progress in math decreased by about half in classrooms located in low-income ZIP codes, by a third in classrooms in middle-income ZIP codes and not at all in classrooms in high-income ZIP codes. When all of the impacts are taken into account, the average student could fall seven months behind academically, while black and Hispanic students could experience even greater learning losses, equivalent to 10 months for black children and nine months for Latinos, according to an analysis from McKinsey & Company, the consulting group. … The disparities in educational progress do not appear to be caused by any lack of effort on the part of families. The poorest parents spent about the same amount of time during school closures assisting their children with learning — 13 hours per week — as those making over $200,000 per year, according to a May Census Bureau survey of households with children.
Our town is building what is, on a per-student basis, the most expensive school ever constructed in the United States. Thus, when it comes time to do sex ed they need to rely on materials from Procter and Gamble. The conservative Midwesterners try to be up to date regarding the irrelevance of biological sex:
But notice that they commit the sin of gender binarism. The school population falls into just two categories: girls and boys.
Separately, although the materials are targeted at the full rainbow of students, including those who identify as “boys”, the only available role models in the teacher slides appear to be cisgender females:
Good news and bad news for a friend’s 12-year-old…
Bad: he was sentenced to read a book by his teachers in the Brookline (Massachusetts) Public Schools.
Good: One of the choices was on an aviation theme. Maybe this won’t be a painful distraction from video games and learning about technology. Perhaps it will be Fate is the Hunter?
Reality: the assigned book, Fly Girl, turns out to be more about skin color than aviation.
From the Amazon page:
All Ida Mae Jones wants to do is fly. Her daddy was a pilot, and years after his death she feels closest to him when she’s in the air. But as a young black woman in 1940s Louisiana, she knows the sky is off limits to her, until America enters World War II, and the Army forms the WASP-Women Airforce Service Pilots. Ida has a chance to fulfill her dream if she’s willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She wants to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one’s self and family is a heavy burden, and ultimately it’s not what you do but who you are that’s most important.
Bessie Coleman, a non-fictional pilot who identified as a black female
Lexington, Massachusetts runs what is generally considered the best of the Boston-area public school systems (a task made slightly easier because the typical student there now is the child of Chinese-American PhDs). Unlike our suburb, when they want to build a gold-plated new school building they (a) do it with roughly 50 percent state money, and (b) do it in the parking lot or soccer field of the old school so that nobody has to move into trailers for three years.
[How good are the best public schools in our state? A Chinese-American PhD friend who lives there says “Most of the teachers are bad.” Fortunately, no matter how bad they are at their job, the union contract guarantees them a paycheck through retirement!]
Two out of three children did not meet the standards for reading proficiency set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the Education Department.
The dismal results reflected the performance of about 600,000 students in reading and math, whose scores made up what is called the “nation’s report card.” The average eighth-grade reading score declined in more than half of the states compared with 2017, the last time the test was given. The average score in fourth-grade reading declined in 17 states. Math scores remained relatively flat in most states.
I was praying that this was statistical noise and we would find the the scores went up in half the states. But “Washington, D.C., was the only city or state to have significant improvement in eighth-grade reading, according to a federal analysis of the data.”
[Separately, looks as though Harvard will need to continue its program of race discrimination for at least another 4 years:
White, black, Hispanic, Native American and multiracial students all lost ground in eighth-grade reading, while there was no significant change for Asian students.
(Note how people with heritage from India, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea, and Japan are lumped together by the Diversity VirtueCorps as “Asians”.)]
Schools are consuming more taxpayer cash than ever. To what can we attribute the decline in performance? Some theories..
Maybe there is no decline in school performance, but the student population has changed as the academically successful have fewer children and the academically unsuccessful have a high fertility rate. Eventually most Americans will be descended from people who did not do well in school and who did not work or worked at jobs that did not require reading. If the parents did not like to read, why would the kids?
iPads, videogames, and smartphones are to blame. As in Being There, students liked to watch TV, but they love to play with tablets, smartphones, and Xbox.
The assigned books are less interesting. Our local K-8 school, soon to be in its $250,000/student new building, has adopted a reading list that concentrates on victimhood. Students are supposed to learn about the struggles of immigrants, people of color, women, etc. Maybe K-8 Americans just don’t care about these particular victims in the way that their adult teachers thought they would.
Readers: What do you think could account for this slide?