Category Archives: education news

Cancel the RNC, but send kids to school?

The Stable Genius continues to baffle me.

Donald J. Trump insists that our children must attend school in classrooms. It’s better to put the students in classrooms than to require them to study at home via online instruction.

What, then, shall we do about the scheduled Republican National Convention that will nominate Trump for a second term as president? He cancelled the RNC in Jacksonville, Fla., citing health concerns. “It’s not the right time” to have a convention with delegates crammed into the same arena, he said.

Mixed messaging anyone? Anyone?

This is part of a much larger problem associated with the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. At one level, Trump says one thing. At another level, he says something quite different.

He scoffed at masks. Now he’s all for them … more or less. He called the pandemic a “Democrat hoax.” Now he says the worst of the pandemic is yet to come before it gets better.

Trump ignores advice from medical experts. Then listens to talk show hosts and acts on their “advice.”

Trump says he’s doing a “fantastic” job, but the rate of infection is accelerating, not slowing down.

The latest bit of news involves the GOP nominating convention. Trump is concerned about potential health hazard to politicians and delegates. I applaud his decision to forgo the in-person gathering in Jacksonville.

If only, though, he would express as much concern about the health and safety of our children, their friends and families and the teachers who educate them.

This guy confuses the daylights out of me.

What is White House hiding now?

The White House is playing a stupid game of keep-away with the U.S. Congress.

What it is keeping away from Congress happens to be information vital to the public — you know, the folks who pay the bills in Washington — on the best way to resume public education for our children.

The White House has decided to block Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield from testifying to the House Education and Labor Committee. The panel wants to know about the strategies being developed to allow schools to reopen eventually in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let me see. What might be the White House be fearing? Oh, might it fear that Redfield is going to say something that contradicts Donald J. Trump’s desire to reopen the schools this fall without little or no regard to the effects of the pandemic that still is raging across the country? That’s what it looks like to me. And to others, I should add.

According to CNN.com“Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response,” a White House official said, confirming the decision to block the CDC’s participation in the hearing. But a spokesman for the House Education and Labor Committee said the panel had requested testimony from any CDC official, not necessarily Redfield.

The CDC is one of the go-to agencies in this fight against the pandemic. It seems to me that hearing from the head of this critical agency is, shall we say, critical to understanding what’s at stake and what the government is doing to protect our lives.

What in the name of government transparency are trying to hide within the West Wing?

Happy to report sanity in our local school system

I am delighted to report some good news — if you allow me to call it that — regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is that our granddaughter and her brother are going to be kept out of their classrooms for at least the first semester of the upcoming academic year. We got the word from our son and daughter-in-law that the Allen (Texas) Independent School District, absent any guarantee that it can prevent spread of the virus in schools, has decided to give parents the option of online schooling at home.

Our son and daughter-in-law have exercised that option.

Thus, the Allen ISD will not follow Donald Trump’s blind and stupid call to reopen our classrooms despite the surge in coronavirus infection in states such as ours.

For the president to insist on school reopening is beyond irresponsible. He exhibits no outward interest in protecting the lives of our precious children and the teachers who expose themselves to potential illness or worse.

So local school districts here in North Texas are calling their own shots. Princeton ISD, where my wife and I live, isn’t going along with the president’s urging. Neither are the Amarillo and Canyon ISDs, from where we moved two years ago. They are going to online teaching, giving students materials they can study at home.

Our granddaughter and her brother — who is entering his senior year in high school — did well in the second half of the preceding school year learning at home. They will do so again once the new year begins in August.

Meanwhile, the search for vaccines continues. May the brainiacs assigned to find them hit pay dirt sooner rather than later.

Trump shows his ignorance yet again

Donald John “Ignoramus in Chief” Trump threatens to pull federal funds from public schools if they don’t reopen this fall, per his edict.

Sigh …

No, he is not going to do that. He has no authority to do anything of the sort. Donald Trump once again is showing us what he doesn’t know about the job to which he was elected … and from which I hope he gets booted out in about 120 days.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace challenged an assertion delivered by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Sunday. DeVos repeated Trump’s threat, to which Wallace told her that Congress appropriates federal funds for public schools. Wallace asked “Under what authority are you and the president going to unilaterally cut off funding, funding that’s been approved from Congress and most of the money goes to disadvantaged students or students with disabilities?” “You can’t do that,” he continued.

That means that Trump is out of the game.

DeVos didn’t answer the question directly. She couldn’t answer. Because she is as ignorant about government as Donald Trump. She did say, “Look, American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds, and give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise.”

Americans are getting sick from the COVID-19 pandemic in increasing numbers. That poses threats to students, teachers and their loved ones. Donald Trump’s demand that schools reopen this fall runs directly counter to the medical advice he is getting from the infectious disease experts with whom he has surrounded himself.

Oh, wait! He knows more than they do. Isn’t that what he has inferred … about anything?

Betsy DeVos is no ‘educator’

As I watched Betsy DeVos evade, bob and weave and avoid answering questions today about how she intends to make public school classrooms safe for children and their teachers, I am struck by a brutal reality.

It is that the secretary of education is as unqualified for her job as the man who selected her to guide public education policy, Donald Trump, is unqualified for his job.

CNN’s Dana Bash sought to get DeVos to commit to a strategy for how she intends to advise local school leaders struggling to make classrooms safe for human habitation after they closed them because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

DeVos couldn’t answer. Or she wouldn’t answer. Couldn’t, wouldn’t. It makes no never mind to me. I sense she doesn’t have a clue.

She was selected by Trump to lead a massive education agency even though she has no experience with public education. She was educated in private schools; she sent her children to private schools; DeVos is known to be a huge advocate for voucher programs that take money from public school districts to pay for private schools.

There’s all of that, plus there’s this: Betsy DeVos doesn’t have an ounce of political cache that she can spend. When the U.S. Senate got around to voting on her confirmation, it ended with a tie, leaving the decision up to the Senate’s presiding officer, Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote. It was the first such vote in U.S. Senate confirmation history.

To my way of thinking, Betsy DeVos has no business setting public education policy for millions of American children, their parents and the educators who teach them. She continues to demonstrate her ignorance or disinterest in public education.

I suppose Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump deserve each other … and the public deserves better.

Knock off threats to schools, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump is now putting heat on governors to reopen public school systems, much like he tried to browbeat houses of worship leaders into packing pews in time for Easter and threatened governors to reopen their states … or else.

There is no “or else” for the president, given that he has no singular authority to tell governors how to run their states as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now he’s going after them on school reopening.

I found this quote from a former member of Congress, a guy I know, but who I haven’t spoken to in more than two decades. Former Rep. Nick Lampson writes: School re-openings must be based on science not the ineptitude of Donald Trump. We have a collective responsibility to protect the interests of America’s youth. Expecting kids to spend 8 hours a day in close quarters during a pandemic and threatening to defund public schools like some sort of authoritarian is not the sort of leadership we need in the White House.

Here in Texas, and specifically in Collin County, our school leaders are giving parents the option of sending their children back to the classroom or keep them at home in a sort of hybrid learning environment. Texas’s infection rate is soaring. We do not want our children exposed needlessly just because Donald Trump wants schools to reopen their classrooms.

While I am on the subject, Donald and Melania Trump have a son in school. Are they sending Barron back to class? I am not going to make the youngster an issue; I merely am asking the question to ascertain what kind of parental decisions the first couple are making with regard to their own son.

As for the rest of us, Donald Trump ought to let governors and the public educators who deserve praise and not threats decide how to handle their unique situations.

School will be back … but should students and teachers return?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has rung the 2020-21 school bell telling students, teachers and staff that classrooms will be open for the upcoming academic year.

Abbott shut down in-person class study this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students kept current with their studies at home; our granddaughter and her older brother were two of them and, I should add, they did quite well studying at home.

Now what? Abbott’s back-to-school directive does give parents the flexibility to decide whether to send their children back to class.

As the Texas Tribune reports:

“It will be safe for Texas public school students, teachers, and staff to return to school campuses for in-person instruction this fall. But there will also be flexibility for families with health concerns so that their children can be educated remotely, if the parent so chooses,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

When students return, school districts will not be required to mandate students wear masks or test them for COVID-19 symptoms, said Frank Ward, a spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency.

If I were King of the World, I most certainly would require masks and COVID-19 tests. I am not. I am just a concerned grandparent who wants to ensure that students, teachers and staff will be safe from becoming infected by a disease that could do them great harm.

Man, I hope Abbott knows what he’s doing. Texas is experiencing a serious spike in infection, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Yes, we want to return to what we like think is “normal” activity.

Given recent trends, I am just leery of sending young children back to school and instructing them to practice “social distancing.”

We’re in good hands

Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, was a brilliant thinker to be sure. He also was dead wrong as he sought to forecast the future of civilization.

The quote you see attached to this blog is attributed to Socrates, who died more than 300 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. He lamented the disrespect shown by young people. If we were to take what the great man said to the bank, we would indeed be in a world of hurt.

I, though, remain an eternal optimist. Two young women I spoke with today give me ample reason to attest to what many of us know already: that we are going to leave this good Earth in the best of hands.

The women — Savannah Sisk and Aubrie Rich — are Farmersville High School seniors. They are the valedictorian and salutatorian of the Class of 2020. I spoke to them to gather information for a story I am writing for the Farmersville Times, so I will not divulge what they said; I do not want to scoop the newspaper.

However, I want to declare that these two young women symbolize great young people all across this land of ours. Their stories are far from unique. Indeed, similar stories can be told everywhere, in every city and town in this country.

My boss assigned me this story thinking I would like to take a break from the sausage grinder of politics and public policy. Brother, was she correct. Speaking to these two individuals filled me with optimism and hope. They offered clear visions of where they intend to go, what they intend to do with the rest of their lives. They spoke with wisdom and clarity about the challenges they faced during their senior year at Farmersville High School; they were challenges that none of them saw coming as their school was essentially shut down because of a worldwide pandemic.

I told both of these two young folks — neither of whom I have met face to face — how proud I am of them. To be sure, I am proud of all the young achievers who have finished one chapter of their lives and are ready to open the next one.

Do they disrespect their elders, are they tyrants of their households, do they display bad manners? No. They prepare to do great things.

I’ll get back to the humdrum of politics in due course. At this moment, I merely want to salute what well could be the next “greatest generation.”

No, Mr. POTUS, do not encourage schools to reopen, too

Oh, Mr. President. There you go again. You don’t need to entice school boards or state governors or statewide educational officials to jump the gun and reopen public schools prior to the end of the current academic year.

Texas schools are closed for the rest of the year. They’ll reopen — we hope — when the 2020-21 school year is set to begin in August.

That’s not even a sure thing, given the rate of coronavirus infection we’re still experiencing.

But there you went again today, suggesting it would be all right with you if states want to reopen their school systems.

Forgive me for being blunt, Mr. President, but you’ve got a screw loose in that noggin of yours. You’re off your rocker. You seemingly are batsh** crazy … but that’s just me speaking for myself.

Too many states have too many restrictions on the way we interact with each other. Social distancing is now the norm of the moment. How do we tell a kindergartner, or a first- or second-grader to stay at least six feet away from his or teacher or best friends?

My granddaughter is a bright first-grade student. I do not know how well, though, she would respond to directives to stay away from her two besties. I mean, the three of them are BFFs. They do everything together. Yes, she misses her pals, and they miss her. Now is not the time to let them back into the classroom together.

My hope is that we can keep the schools closed. The kids can continue to learn at home through lessons sent to them by their teachers. Our granddaughter is doing just fine under that circumstance.

Open the schools this academic year? Hah! That’s another good one, Mr. President … except nothing you say makes me laugh except out of derision. Otherwise, you make me cringe.

Keep our schools closed!

There’s a marquee in front of the brand new elementary school in our Princeton, Texas, neighborhood that reads “We miss you. See you May 4.”

That’s when Texas’s public schools are supposed to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s my suggestion: Do not reopen the schools; keep them closed for the remainder of this academic year.

The first week of May is far too early to send our children back to school, where they would mingle with other children. Do we expect kindergartners or first-graders — or even older children — to observe the six-foot rule, to practice “social distancing”?

My hope is that we can keep the schools dark. Let the kids continue to study at home until the end of our school year. School systems can issue pass/fail grades for the students. Those who pass can move to the next grade; those who fail can do it all over again in the fall.

Our primary concern needs to be the health of our children and the men and women who educate them … and the staff members who run our schools.

I hereby request that Gov. Greg Abbott forget about reopening our schools on May 4. Close ’em for the rest of the year. Then let’s concentrate on stemming this infection rate.