Merv's Politically Incorrect Audio Blog

Discussion in 'SBAF Blogs' started by purr1n, Dec 26, 2018.

  1. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    This is right, and is true for everyone who has to work with the public. It's true for doctors/nurses/hospital staff. It's true for the folks who work the cashier and stock at your grocery store. It's true for police/fire/and other "essential" government service workers. It's true for those who work in transport/airlines. It's true for small business owners and their workers, and those who work for large corporations and their workers.

    Why, out of all these important (even "essential") workers, have teachers been allowed to claim exemption from risk? The answer as near as I can tell is that they have the political position/clout to do so - they get paid either way, what's their incentive to take on the risk most others can not avoid? This, despite the fact that most everyone, no matter what their political leanings, deems public education as essential, basic to democracy and society, the de facto social welfare system for children of the lower/underclass almost everywhere in America, etc.

    I don't see this. At our school the changes are mindboggling, and risk is real, and no one even know if its going to work. Yet we have to try. Somehow in too many places the politics have allowed the government schools from even putting in the effort...


    This is what I would do I think if I was not in the position we are with our school. Heck, we may be there anyways in a month or three because this is all new and our extraordinary efforts may be a fail. Certainly with our youngest (1st grade) an online only program is not realistic based on our experience in the spring. Even with our oldest (6th grade) it would be "mediocre" at best, and this is with teachers properly incentivised, 14 students maximum each, etc.

    I would stretch and home school, particularly in a "co-op" situation with the older girl, but I am too far out of my depth with the 1st grader.

    I have not seen this talked about in the media yet, but the medical community is discussing internally. It looks like the damage this virus does may have life long lasting effects, and a post-polio like chronic syndrome is going to be a daily battle for millions..
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
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  2. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    Teachers don’t get paid like doctors or nurses. Bus drivers, janitors, etc. get paid even less. Public schools also don’t get to refuse service to customers like private businesses. Moreover, hospitals have infinitely more safety procedures in place than any of the plans I’ve seen for any school. Want to go into a hospital? It’s three or so questionnaires, mandatory temperature taking, mandatory masking, and mandatory distancing. Don’t do those things? You’re kicked out.

    The South Korea study just showed kids over 10 transmit the virus every bit as much as adults. Packing kids into classrooms for poor quality education just because some companies aren’t willing to work with their employees to provide child care during COVID isn’t the answer.

    Teachers’ job is to educate kids. If that can be done more safely from home during a pandemic, it should be.

    This also isn’t just about teachers or school employees. It’s about kids’ health and the health of their families and everyone who will get sick as a downstream effect of an outbreak in a school. Everyone knows we shouldn’t be clustering people together in small, poorly ventilated spaces until we have the virus under control or a treatment. We’re just pretending otherwise now because people are tired of the virus.

    You’re right that schools provide other essential services to kids, but schools have continued doing that during closures. It also shouldn’t be that way. Schools shouldn’t be the only way kids get fed or get medical care. It’s good that COVID is making people wake up to that fact, but the response should be to fix the problem, not continue to expect schools to be a haphazard all-purpose safety net.

    I don’t see how these add up. We have to do the exact thing we know we shouldn’t — put large numbers of people into buildings — even though the more we find out about COVID, the clearer it is that it’s not just a temporary illness.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
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  3. robot zombie

    robot zombie Friend

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    Preciate these comments guys. I don't think quite like either of you do, but also am not set in my conclusions on things, so it's good to see some generally sober, plainly stated views on it even if they are different. Hard to find that sort of thing right now.
     
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  4. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    I’ll also generally say that we need to be clear about what we mean by “essential.” I don’t think of the vast majority of occupations, including education, as “essential” right now in the way that medicine, food, and shelter are. We’re pretty far Maslow’s hierarchy in a pandemic.

    To me, the debate about opening schools is a trickle down effect of the fact that we’ve opened up a bunch of stuff that we shouldn’t have opened up. Those workers now need child care. Public education is free childcare. That’s the extent of the debate.

    No one thinks in-person instruction during COVID is going to be quality or even better than virtual education. Heck, back in Michigan, DeVos insisted virtual education was the best education in all circumstances. I didn’t agree with her then, but in the emergency circumstances of a pandemic, it’s silly that she’s changed her tune without even attempting to address the contradiction.

    This is just about refusing to admit we need to go back into lockdown. Trump doesn’t want things closed, because that’s bad for the economy, which is bad for his re-election. Around 90% of an incumbent president’s vote share is based on economic fundamentals. Politicians know this. We probably could’ve managed the economy and lockdown well, but we didn’t. Things like PPP and the unemployment provisions worked at cross purposes, especially when governors began opening too soon. Now we’re in the worst-of-all-worlds circumstance of having a wrecked economy—with high unemployment and small businesses going bust left and right—and we didn’t even manage to get the virus under control.
     
  5. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Not a significant delta between nurses and teachers in our area. Most workers serving the public have no real "refusal", no more than government institutions like public schools - probably less. My office is in a hospital, though I only visit it about once a week now. Our school is going to use about the same procedures - tempature screening every student, staff, and parent (if they have reason to enter the building) upon arrival, masks, many particular social distancing efforts (desks spread out, rotating shifts outside and lunch room, etc.). We have been able to do all this despite the fact that we spend less than 1/2 the state average per head in a state on the low end of education spending (we were 13th lowest last year according to a quick Google look up). Why can't the government schools at least make an effort at these things?

    Your right this is about child care and economics. In our modern economy we have had this social contract for decades now - the government provides child care through the schools and America has a both (all) parents working. Since we are not letting any other segment of the economy off the hook, at least without painful economic consequences (lost jobs, businesses, etc.), why are we letting the government schools break their end of the deal?!?

    Lockdown is a short term solution only under any circumstance - unless society is willing to suffer depression (worse really) economic circumstances, then most economic sectors have to be functioning to a significant degree even if the circumstances are changed/difficult, including (especially) government schools.

    I look for a real push back against this capitulation by (mostly local) political insiders to teachers unions sooner rather than later...
     
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  6. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    This isn’t about unions or politics or whatever. (I’m in a non-union state FWIW.) This is about not doing stupid and unsafe things because we’ve already done a bunch of other stupid and unsafe things. Plus, most other businesses are still putting limits on the number of people in a given amount of space, limits that aren’t possible in schools. I’d feel much safer in a hospital, especially only one day a week, than I would in even a 50% capacity school. (Public schools, FWIW, aren’t legally allowed to do some of the screening things you’re mentioning or can’t logistically do them with the number of kids they have. There are also simple space and ventilation issues in most schools. That’s why most in-person plans are actually hybrid, with students going part-time in shifts, even after loosening health guidelines.)

    Education financing is complex, but spending hasn’t gone to teacher salaries in most areas. They’ve been flat or worse adjusted for inflation for decades. Like higher education, administrative and support spending has ballooned. In some cases, that’s due to legal changes. Some of those, such as services for students with disabilities, are good. Others aren’t, like needing testing coordinators to keep up with the myriad standardized tests. Some is just administrators “evaluating” each other and paying each other more, as in many businesses.

    With COVID, things are worse now in many parts of the country than they were when schools and businesses closed in the spring. It’s time for people to admit that we bungled the policy (economic and health) response, opened up too soon, and need to do things correctly this time. Just accepting that people are going to die unnecessarily because we want bars to stay open and our politicians can’t get their act together is appalling to me. We’ve become the country that says we can’t accomplish the things that the countries we claim to be better than can accomplish.
     
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Said this before, our country will suck at handling COVID. There are pros and cons for such freedom, including the freedom to be dumb and unintentionally kill other people.

    One good thing as a result of our freedom is that vaccine development is nuts. We are advancing the "research" tree of the Civ game rapidly to find a cure. China is great at edicts from their Palpatine and keeping people in line, but they won't be able to find a cure quickly like the USA or the West. Unless they employ spies.
     
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  8. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    I don’t think it’s just those two extremes, though. It looks like the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford vaccine is in the lead, and the U.K. also got its cases under control.
     
  9. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    Do you actually know anyone, of any political orientation, who would wish people die so they can go to the bar?
    I do not, but I know people, some of them of my age 69+ who are saying that yes they would accept the higher risk to avoid destroying economy and with it the lives of younger generation. I do not want our children to lose their jobs and waste 10 years to rebuild their lives. Accepting higher risk does not mean wanting people to die or having a death wish.
    It may be just different view of trade offs we are facing, and maybe different perception of the risk.

    But if you put it in those terms, the neat picture of one side being just a bunch dumb fucks who would kill people for profit and a glass of cold beer, and the other side being entirely rational, apolitical and caring, this picture is not that black and white anymore.
    And we obviously cannot have that.
    And by the way the date from UK, Sweden, Belgium, Spain and US do not support yet any hard and fast conclusion who is handling it well and who is failing
     
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  10. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    I’m sorry, but the data does make clear we’re handling it worse than most other developed countries. Also, numerous people, including politicians and pundits, have said we just need to accept death in order to keep the economy going.

    The reality, of course, is that closures aren’t wrecking the economy, COVID is. If you look at Open Table data, for example, business is way down even in places that are “open.” When economic activity decreases even a little, you get a recession. COVID was going to depress it a lot, even if we had no official shutdowns. The proper policy response was the keep businesses and individuals afloat during COVID, but many of the our policy responses were either insufficient, in conflict with one another, or undercut by state policies.

    Throughout COVID, polls have made clear that the vast majority of people have supported shutdowns and restrictions. Even with school opening debates, that continues to be the case. The minority who want to pretend everything is fine get outsized attention, which is leading to frustration. Moreover, the “old people just want to look out for young people’s economic lives” thing is a canard. Young people are actually more worried about COVID than old people. Sure, people can disagree about risk trade-offs, but in a situation when your behavior raises other people’s risk, that’s not sustainable.

    My neighbor’s dog, who I’ve walked a couple times a week for years and every day for the past three months, just passed. So I’m not in the best mood, and I apologize if I’m being curt. But I’m honestly just so sick of the dysfunction in our country and many people’s total lack of empathy with others and willingness wave away anything they don’t like as “fake news” or some conspiracy.

    Everything is about politics, of course, but this is also above politics, or should be. I’m originally from Ohio. My parents still live there. The GOP governor there, whom I previously disliked, has done a great job with COVID. But, like Fauci and others, the wonderful doctor he had helping him craft policy received death threats. All I keep thinking is, What’s wrong with people?!
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    For me it's about choice during an emergency situation.

    Maybe I spoke too soon on the private vs. public. What we are finding out is it comes down to competence / adapting vs. incompetence / not adapting which can vary regardless of type of school. Right now we are fighting with our current school district to release our daughter from her high school so she can attend a different high school which is in a California District of Choice district. This district also happens to be smaller and hungrier (our neighbors right next door took this path a few years ago). It's not perfect, but it seems better in the specific ways that we would want.

    I just received the no letter. Seriously pissed off and will be appealing the decision. Not happy about my school district where her English teacher decided to not teach his freshman class for a week to help the seniors prep for college, or teachers who don't notice kids waiting in the Zoom lobby for 45 minutes because they had to reboot. I didn't sign up for this shit and last time I looked, five years of property taxes here gets me a Porsche.

    The admins hate it, but #SchoolChoice is the best way to make schools better. Make them compete for kids.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
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  12. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    @purr1n I was dropping off a package earlier today and I saw about ten Cali tags in a span of three minutes in Jax. There are people who don't mind paying something for the public good, but what's the point if you are paying that much and you aren't getting the services you want/need.

    #SchoolChoice is great, but it all depends on how a state/local does it.
     
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  13. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    School choice in America is the only serious and objectively measurable proposal to "fix" much that is wrong with our public educational system. Being a monopoly and largely unaccountable to the public (without going into the reasons why), the current model is never going to significantly self correct, and is going to simply reflect (rather than lead) the culture and societal problems/issues.

    What would happen if most local legacy public school systems had significant competition? At the very least, some (but not all) children would get better educated. Is significant school choice workable - is not the current tax/governmental admin/egalitarian (and thus in practice, lowest common denominator) model not itself dependent on monopoly? This question is one that we have been reluctant to answer because it would require real risk, and the entrenched political intrests as well as the dis-interest from much of the public has allowed the status quo to suffer no serious threat.
     
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  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The fact that I need to get permission from my district to send my kid to another district (to the west instead of east) makes my anti-statist blood boil!

    This isn't common sense. It's purely politics and turf wars going back decades... I'm not even asking for vouchers.

    So utterly stupid. High school juniors should definitely have the option to take gap year. Junior year is so crucial for grades and college prep. Zoom.EDU has already been shown to be a joke via measurements.

    WSJ (sorry, paywall): https://www.wsj.com/articles/schools-coronavirus-remote-learning-lockdown-tech-11591375078
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
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  15. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    I think in most places virtual school this fall will be very different, and better, from the spring. In our district, the admin forbade teachers this spring from teaching new material or requiring synchronous meetings with students. From what I've heard, that was the case in a lot of districts. No wonder nothing was accomplished. But I also think a gap year is a good idea. I think the credentialing arms race kids are forced into these days makes that harder, which is sad.

    As far as the current setup of American schools, we shouldn't fund things with local property taxes, which are regressive and create huge inequalities between districts. (My academic research is on this, so I won't go on. But I'm for replacing property taxes with general wealth taxes. The only type of wealth most middle-class people have shouldn't be taxed every year while the types of wealth the actual wealthy have are only taxed when sold for a profit.)

    In terms of choice, the only way we'd end up with true choice is if poor (often non-white) kids can choose to go to rich districts and the parents in those districts can't block it or pull their kids out of the public schools in response. Anything short of that isn't really choice, IMO. (I'm also flatly opposed to tax dollars going to religious schools, but that's a whole other church/state can of worms.)
     
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  16. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    It's not about money.

    Simple sentence, but it explodes the whole status quo thinking. What's wrong with the legacy public education monopoly has nothing to do with money as a primary "cause". Money is important (though not nearly as much as the status quo believes), but only if you get other things right first.
     
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    In my district, the high school is doing a two mode approach: part time on-prem and from home only. I don’t see this as possible to execute properly. The teachers are already being challenged. Now they need to prepare how to educate in 1.5 ways for 2 sets of kids? Who the hell came up with this dumb idea?

    The district we want to transfer to is only doing in one way: online only.
     
  18. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    I've read most of the state reopening plans as well as Education Week's guidebook for reopening, and it basically comes down to a conflict between space constraints and wanting to declare that schools are "in-person."

    Most schools don't have the space to social distance, even at the bending-the-rules three feet, and accommodate all of the kids on buses and in classrooms. So they've decided to split most older kids into shifts. For some reason, they think this hybrid is better than all virtual. I'm not sure why. Seems more like the worst of both worlds to me.

    I also think that most districts hoped that we'd be like our European and Asian counterparts and have the virus under control at this point, which would've made in-person instruction much less risky. They seem to have all operated on the assumption that that would happen, that PPE and cleaning supplies would be readily available by now, etc.

    That hasn't turned out to be the case. Now they're getting pressure from the feds and a vocal minority of parents to declare "Mission Accomplished" and have in-person classes anyhow. I'm not sure what our district will do yet, but more and more school boards are voting for virtual opening, because they're seeing that the plans put forward by superintendents are totally infeasible.
     
  19. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    I don't know who came up with it but it IS the status quo - our local system (New Mexico was going to do it (till they went with online only), my sisters children are doing it (Kentucky), etc. etc.

    Everybody follow "the leader", except the leader does not actually lead...
     
  20. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    I'm sure you know this, but this is a very, very, very difficult thing to actually do. But I agree, what was it Picketty said about when r>g? I'm pretty sure we're looking a medium term contraction of g. But Wall Street looks great!
     
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