Across the nation, as March drifted into July, the question on people’s minds became less about whether or not the economy would open and more about whether or not schools would open. Because to some degree, for many people, it is impossible to go back to work without open schools. The issue has become even more difficult because children are the least likely group to contract the China Virus. Their teachers, on the other hand, are not so immune.
Enter New York City Mayor Bill (the Bolshevik) de Blasio, whose incompetent reopening plan plumbs new depths of stupidity, even for him. He wants to allow students to return to school from one to three days a week, but would then provide childcare at libraries or other public facilities for the days they are not in session.
Say what? That cwazy viwus is soooooo sneaky it can tell the difference between a schoolroom and a library room!! De Blasio admitted, “there’s a reason nothing like this has ever been attempted.” Yeah, like the same reason nobody snowboards off Mount Everest or covers himself in honey and walks naked into bear country.
As idiotic as de Blasio’s “plan” is, it reflects the difficulties that almost all school districts across the nation are facing.
- In the Parkway school district in suburban St. Louis, the plans that administrators have drafted range from full-time classroom learning to full-time online instruction.
- Both Atlanta and Cobb County schools will begin the year remotely, then at some point resume face-to-face instruction.
- Los Angeles Unified School District will not reopen at all: classes will be conducted “virtually.” (What the parents are virtually supposed to do with an eight-year-old alone at home while they work is a reasonable question. Would it also be reasonable to sic child services on them if they left Judy or Bobby alone?
- Like Los Angeles, Lansing Michigan will hold its classes entirely online this fall but hopes to get students back in person for the first grading period in November.
- Arizona plans no in-person classes in the fall just yet.
- Chicago, reeling from riots and government incompetence, said it would make a decision “soon,” but all sports practices have been canceled.
- Philadelphia produced probably the most astounding hands-off policy yet: each of the 200 schools in the Philadelphia Independent School District will “create its own individual plan.” Besides being a recipe for lawsuit heaven, this approach is full of so many potholes even an Abrams tank would avoid it. Oh, and in Philadelphia all employees would receive a completely useless cloth mask, but school safety officers and transportation staff would be given a surgical mask and a “durable face shield for the year.
Many other districts are planning a parental option of in-person or distance instruction. But no one has yet come to grips with several realities of online instruction. First, not every home has good wireless. Some may not have wireless at all. One answer has been, “they can use the wireless from the school parking lot.” Are you serious? In Phoenix, it’s still well over 100 degrees in August. So, you have the option of driving your kid to the parking lot, sitting there with him while he logs in, and running your car air conditioner until you are out of gas, or missing school. And how many homes have a computer for each child? If a family has three kids, each needing to study two to three hours a day (while, in the meantime, mom and dad also need access to the computer), that should produce fun dinner fights. More than three hours? There won’t be enough hours in the day.
Which still begs the question, who takes care of the kids when they are home? The same social services that would drag negligent parents off in handcuffs who previously left children unattended for hours at a time now will turn a blind eye?
And let’s talk transportation. Plans such as de Blasio’s or other “staggered” sessions will more than double both the number of teachers and the number of bus drivers needed. “We’ll just go to double shifts.” Right. And who draws the 4-midnight shift? School districts have a freight train full of expenses that they haven’t even begun to conceive heading their way.
What of the plans, such as Arizona floated, for opening with kids in masks and “social distancing”? Does anyone have an eight-year-old? An eight-year-old boy lives for poking at and harassing eight-year-old girls. Kids are constantly touching, tapping, pushing, or otherwise “invading the space” of other kids. It’s one of the crucial ways they learn NOT to do such things—usually this knowledge comes after a sharp slap or a punch to the gut. Moreover, kids learn they don’t like it themselves when others do it to them. Arizona’s rules also require that a kid who sneezes must go to the restroom and wash his or her hands. Really? How many kids do you think will figure out this scam? And who is policing them as a dozen kids per hour walk down the halls . . . picking and poking and shoving? Between the need to keep kids from touching each other and the bathroom breaks, just how much actual instruction do you think will occur?
In short, the plans based on the precepts of masks and “social distancing” are a disaster in waiting. But the virtual/distance learning schemes are equally bad. For one thing, teaching in person is far different than teaching the same course online. The dynamic is different. The timing is different. Even live classes of largely quiet students ask questions, blurt out comments, and otherwise divert the planned instruction into different, but often equally rewarding areas. The same goes for grading: while good teachers create systems to make them “bullet-proof” to charges of subjective grading, the fact is that personal observation is a key ingredient in determining a student’s performance. It helps for a teacher to see how students learn, what they react to—and it also makes the instructor better to know whether the light bulbs are going on or whether they are merely black lights from the drugs the kid did earlier!
Combining the indecision with the fear porn and the ridiculous attempts at social distancing on top of an unprepared and untrained force of “distance teachers” should make for an entire year’s worth of lost education for children.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of A Patriot’s History of the The United States, now in its 31st printing; the author of Reagan: the American President; and the founder of a history curriculum for high school/homeschoolers, the Wild World of History (www.wildworldofhistory.com). He accurately predicted the 2016 election in August 2015 saying publicly Trump would win with between 300-320 electoral votes (the final was 306).