Bill De Blasio, CCP Virus, Chicago, coronavirus, COVID 19, education, Im-Politic, Jim Kenney, Larry Hogan, Lori Lightfoot, Maryland, Montgomery County, New York City, Philadelphia, reopening, schools, teachers, teachers unions, Wuhan virus
Mid-summer sure is shaping up as a bad period for The Narrative being pushed by many politicians in this pandemic and election year, and that seems predominant in those Mainstream Media news organizations still retaining enormous influence over how Americans perceive, think, and even act.
Just a few days ago, as reported on RealityChek, a Gallup poll cast doubt on whether even African Americans regard America’s police forces are systemically racist. More recently, considerable evidence has appeared – and in real life, not polls – challenging the belief that the nation’s school reopening debate pits the Trump administration and other Republicans and conservatives and their insistence that in-classroom instruction resume this fall with no regard whatever for the health of students, administrators, versus Democrats, liberals, and teachers themselves who refuse to expose anyone involved in education to a deadly disease.
Think what you will of the substance of this reopening debate and what types of school year starts strike the best balance between providing students with urgently needed education and other benefits of physical schooling on the one hand, and safeguarding their health on the other. It’s still pretty stunning to learn that in numerous American cities and other jurisdictions, the teachers and their unions – long a key Democratic Party constituency and funder – have been up in arms against the reopening plans of Never Trumper leaders that feature various mixes of virtual and in-school instruction.
Let’s start with my beloved native New York City, whose mayor, Bill de Blasio, is one of America’s most far-Left politicians (albeit one with a unique ability to antagonize folks on the Left). At the end of last month, de Blasio unveiled a reopening plan incorporating a weekly “blended approach” of in-class and virtual learning for “a vast majority of kids.” De Blasio also said that implementing the plan required that the city’s daily positive CCP Virus test rate stayed below three percent – and justified his approach by noting that it had lately been steady at one percent
The reaction of the city’s educators? Protests that included teachers (and some parents) carrying coffins and a guillotine.
Chicago is another big city with a high-profile progressive Democratic mayor – Lori Lightfoot. Unlike de Blasio, she hasn’t alienated many of her fellow progressives. But in the view of her city’s teachers, she has also committed the sin of proposing a school reopening plan entailing “a hybrid schedule combining two days of in-person instruction and three days or remote learning for kindergarten through sophomore year students….” Moreover, Chicago parents with kids in the public schools can opt for full virtual learning under the plan, which isn’t yet official policy. The school system says that it’s prepared for the return of physical classes with “large PPE investments, [a] pod system that should help with contact tracing and that it will have temperature checks at school.” Yet Chicago teachers are marching in protest, too, with the union pushing for an all virtual reopening.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has a lower national profile than de Blasio or Lightfoot, and lately a more mixed claim as a progressive champion, including among progressives. (See here and here for evidence.) But he’s clearly a liberal Democrat.
His city’s school Superintendent also proposed a blended-type plan that “would have sent most children back to school in person two days a week and contained a 100% virtual option for families who wanted it.” The response of Philadelphia teachers (and also some parents)? “Don’t force one teacher or student into classrooms until you can guarantee our safety.” And the backlash was strong enough to force the school system into revision mode.
You say you aren’t confused enough? Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan has recently muddied the narrative still further. I know – he’s a Republican. But he’s worked hard to position himself as an anti-Trump Republican and possibility for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024. So it would be logical to expect Hogan to fall in with the hard core opponents of in-class reopenings. Yet yesterday, Hogan slapped down as “overly broad” a (liberal Democratic) Maryland county’s order to bar, at least through October 1, not only public schools from offering any in-person education, but private schools as well.
It’s entirely possible that the confused politics of school reopenings may complicate efforts to arrive at a reasonable working consensus on this vital issue. But in these hyperpartisan times, a better outcome might be in store. The willingness of various politicians to depart from the battle lines widely supposed to exist might become a badly needed force for pragmatism – and especially for the flexible, case-by-case solutions that will undoubtedly often be needed.