Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Defund the Police,” and, “Defund the Billionaires,” Create a Job-Friendly, Equitable Economy for All

In the early 2000’s I was at the New School University listening to Reverend Floyd Flake, senior pastor at the 23,000 member Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral. Reverend Flake served as a member of Congress (1987-97) and is a strong supporter of charter schools.

Flake was critical of public schools, the level of education was sub par, staffs don’t live in the communities and were not engaged with the community. I asked Floyd if he agreed that the police were not engaged with the community, didn’t live in the community and oftentimes unfairly targeted members of the community: he nodded in agreement.  I asked whether Floyd agreed that in addition to charter schools we should have “charter” police departments.

Flake demurred, and his handlers hustled him out of the meeting.

Maybe I was prescient?

In middle class and white communities the police were looked upon as crime fighters protecting the community from the evil doers, in communities of color: feared. In the 1920’s and 30’s crime was rampant; the 18th Amendment, “… the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors … is … prohibited” was widely ignored, Murder Incorporated . operated with impunity, the police both ignored or were complicit.

In communities of color the police have been the foot soldiers of local and state governments since the Civil War. Jim Crow laws abrogated the 13th/14th and 15th amendments, slavery was replaced by peonage and the Supreme Court legitimatized the abrogation of constitutional guarantees.

Between 1882 and 1968 almost 3500 Afro-Americans were lynched,

Today African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of whites, and at least ten times the rate in five states.

“For white Americans of every ideological stripe—from radical southern racists to northern progressives—African American criminality became one of the most widely accepted bases for justifying prejudicial thinking, discriminatory treatment, and/or acceptance of racial violence as an instrument of public safety.”

”White southerners were hysterical over the threat of ‘social equality’ or what they took to mean the apocalyptic possibility of black men ‘ravishing’ white women and passing on their ‘degenerate’ traits to a “pure” white race”
― Khalil Gibran Muhammad, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

Black people have been 28% of those killed by police since 2013 despite being only 13% of the population.

For many “Defund the Police” is demanding a type of policing that no longer demeans, abuses and kills people of color.

David Kirkland, the Director of the NYU Metro Center, in an eloquent essay rejects our current “toxic system” and urges the replacement by “community protectors.”

To transform toxic systems—systems that devour Black, Brown, and Indigenous bodies, systems that cannibalize communities, systems such as policing that gorge on not only public dollars but also the spines of the very people they are supposed to protect and serve—to transform these systems, you have to starve them. Similarly, if you want to understand what “defund the police” means, you have to understand what funding the police has meant, particularly for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous (BLI) peoples.

 Currently, our progress is shackled by a system too reliant upon police to do things for us that police cannot, should not, and were not designed to do. We need to defund the police so that we can hire and train our own community protectors—a cadre of care workers more apt to service our human needs, to help eliminate the kinds of conditions responsible for acts of desperation that are, indeed, threats against our public safety. We need investments in systems not bent on jailing us, but designed to liberate us through jobs, education, and other social programs that directly empower people. Investing in human freedom as opposed to human bondage is the best use of public funds. As Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier (and cheaper) to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

 On the other end of the spectrum, far, far on the other side of the spectrum Heather McDonald, in the City Journal sees the Defund the Police movement as the erosion of our society, the “breakdown of civilized life,”

 [George Floyd’s murder] has now spurred an outpouring of contempt against the pillars of law and order that has no precedent in American history. Every day, another mainstream institution—from McDonald’s to Harvard—denounces the police, claiming without evidence that law enforcement is a threat to black lives.

These are no longer the warning signs of a possible breakdown of civilized life. That breakdown is upon us. If local and national leaders are unable to summon the will to defend our most basic institutions from false and inflammatory charges of racism, they have forfeited their right to govern. Unless new leaders come forth who understand their duty to maintain the rule of law, the country will not pull back from disaster.

What McDonald fails to understand is our nation is moving towards a “majority/minority nation; the white, male power structure is inexcerably being replaced by the population tides and Afro-American voters are using the power of the ballot box to express themselves.

Defund the police must be accompanied by, as Kirkland writes,

… investments in systems not bent on jailing us, but designed to liberate us through jobs, education, and other social programs that directly empower people. Investing in human freedom as opposed to human bondage is the best use of public funds

 A recent NY Times editorial makes the case, unless people have jobs, unless we attack economic inequality the “power elites” will continue enrich themselves, call it what you will, “historic and continuing racism” is the primary reason for high crime rates in communities of poverty. The police are the foot soldiers; “fighting crime” equates to incarcerating the victims of policies that takes from the many and gives to the few.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood that a sustainable improvement in the quality of most American lives required an overhaul of the institutions of government.

“These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America,” Roosevelt said in 1936. “What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.”

Americans especially need to confront the fact that minorities are disproportionately the victims of economic inequality — the people most often denied the dignity of a decent wage. That inequity is the result of historic and continuing racism, and it should be addressed with the same sense of fierce urgency that has motivated the wave of protests against overt displays of racism

 We need an “overhaul of the institutions of government,” a living wage for all Americans will drive our economy; if we continue to “rob from the poor and give to the rich” our economy will crumble. There is no “invisible hand” protecting our economy, recessions and depressions are man-made disasters.  Maybe Andrew Yang is correct and we need a Universal Basic Income ($1,00 a month for all Americans), I know there is a ticking clock, a time when demonstrations and protests will grow and grow and a time when we will tip into the yawning abyss of an economic Depression, or worse.

Rhiannon Giddens, in a haunting song, “At the Purchaser’s Option,” reminds us of the cruelty of human bondage

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vy9xTS0QxM

Implied (or not so implied) Bias, White Privilege and Racism: Are We Turning around 400 Years of Bigotry?

It was the last day of school; we raced home, picked up our bags and off to Kennedy for our overnight flight to Paris. Months earlier my wife was invited to an International Conference on Gifted Education in Hamburg; the planning expanded. We arranged to exchange our apartment with a French family for the month of July, a trip across Europe by train including the conference; from Paris to Brussels, to Amsterdam, the conference in Hamburg, to Berlin, behind the Iron Curtain to Prague, on to Vienna and Munich for the return flight.

We registered our son in a city-run sports program (isn’t Socialism wonderful) and we wandered the City of Lights. Up early, our son picks up a demi-baguette or croissants at the local patisserie, shop in the bouchere, by the second day we were regulars, Madame, monsieur, asseyez –vous, si’l vous plait, recommendations from the butcher along with recipes, ever try lapin (taste’s like chicken). Do you have a cremerie in your neighborhood?  A different cheese every day …. and the French love huitres. Our son was selected to play on the rec center team in the city-wide soccer tournament, (l’American, his nickname, probably helped USA – French relations more than the Embassy).

Eating mussels in the Grand Place  in Brussels, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the conference in Hamburg and on to Berlin, crossing over into East Berlin (searched by very serious Vopos, East German border guards) to Rosa Luxemburg Station and off to Prague, the glorious Wenceslas Square, the only Americans in the hotel (Cubans and other East Europeans), an occasional smile or thumbs up, no one willing to engage in conversation in a repressive Communist state, The final miles, back across the Iron Curtain, a few days in Vienna (yummy Viennese pastries, with the waiters asking mit schlag?) and catching a flight from Munich in time for the beginning of school.

Our son’s first assignment in English class: “What did you do over the summer?” Drew wrote about being searched by the Vopos, playing in the city-wide soccer tournament and other trip highlights. His teacher accused him of copying the report, he insisted he wrote the report, the teacher inferred he had “problems’ and called my wife. For those of you who knew Joan you know she “didn’t suffer fools gladly” suffice it to say, the teacher was chastened.

An example of implied bias or worse: how could an Afro-American student spend a summer touring Europe?  He must be hallucinating.

Joan was shopping in Lord and Taylor; the security guard followed her around the store; when she confronted him he told her he was following orders, when she insisted she speak with his boss he told her the guard “misunderstood” his orders.

If you’re a person of color the indignities, the humiliations, the bias, the outright racism are commonplace. You’re anger is always seething beneath the surface.

I noticed that when Joan and I were walking down a Manhattan street other persons of color would nod a greeting; I asked Joan, “Do all Afro-Americans know each other?” She smiled and replied, “In a manner of speaking: yes.”

The anger built up over centuries exploded with the murder of George Floyd. The demonstrations, the protests, young and older, all colors, all ethnicities took to the streets, it was a volcanic explosion.

The New York State legislature in a matter a days passed legislation that had languished for years. The New York City budget began address overly harsh policing.

Hall of Famer Rod Carew: 3,000 plus hits, .328 lifetime batting average, five-time battling title, stopped jogging in the streets of Minneapolis, he feared cops thinking he was fleeing from a crime, presaging the murder of George Floyd.

Upon reflection, it is not surprising that Black athletes are at the forefront of Black Lives Matter.

College and professional athletes seized the moment, and threatened the untold millions squeezed out of their bodies, college sports, after all, are a type of chattel slavery.

They knelt on campuses and outside courthouses and a capitol. They filmed videos and challenged coaches and gripped megaphones to call out racism they knew from their classrooms and stadiums. They led protest chants, registered voters and started to strategize for Nov. 3, Election Day.

In some instances, the nation’s college athletes even pledged not to play.

Maybe the explosion has turned around 400 years of somnambulance, of sleepwalking, of ignoring attempts to keep children of enslaved people in chains. Perhaps, just perhaps we are finally beginning to right the wrongs that have plagued our society.

You cannot snap your fingers and change deep prejudice, you can continue moving forward and continue to embed feelings of justice and fairness.

We may be experiencing the tanning of America: are we becoming more multi-hued and tolerant?  Are the protesters in the streets the voters of the future? Has the murder of George Floyd forced us to confront our past and move towards a new tomorrow?

Listen to Judy Collins and the Harlem Boys’ Choir: “Amazing Grace”

The End of the School Year: Confusion, Uncertainty, Fear and Chaos

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

TS Eliot

  Chris Hayes

@chrislhayes

“Do policymakers realize that without full time school this fall, parents are screwed and everything will fall apart? I get that it’s a hard problem! I don’t know the answer, but anything approaching “normal” is not possible for working parents while homeschooling”

Will New York State be in Stage 4 by September and can we look forward to a return to regular school?

Is an upsurge in COVID inevitable as we begin to open up the economy?

Is Chris Hayes (2.1 million twitter followers) right? Will “everything fall apart” if we end up with anything less than fulltime school?

BTW, who decides whether schools will re-open? And what an “open school” would look like?

Betty Rosa, the Board of Regents Chancellor reminds us that the NYS Constitution uses the term “governed” ….

The corporation …, under the name of The Regents of the University of the State of New York, is hereby continued under the name of The University of the State of New York. It shall be governed and its corporate powers, which may be increased, modified or diminished by the legislature

 State education law grants the power to “advise and guide …all districts … in relation to their duties and the general management of schools” to the commissioner.

 He shall have general supervision over all schools and institutions  which  are  subject to the provisions of this chapter, or of any statute  relating to education, and shall cause  the  same  to  be  examined  and  inspected,  and  shall  advise  and  guide  the  school  officers of all  districts and cities of the state in relation to their  duties  and  the  general  management of the schools under their control.

 However, tucked into the 2020-21 Enacted Budget is a section that gives the governor sweeping authority,

… broad emergency powers to temporarily suspend or modify statutes, local laws, ordinances, rules and regulations during periods of disaster emergencies,

 The governor has issued over 200 Executive Orders, the latest requiring fourteen day quarantines for visitors from high COVID states.

Earlier in the year as I arrived at the majestic State Education Building I noticed a crowd waiting at the entrance, and they suddenly pushed past security, rushed into the building unfurling banners and raced through the halls demanding a meeting. They were anti-vaxers, protesting the requirement that children are vaccinated for specific diseases before enrollment in school. Eventually they met with members of the Regents who told them they were picketing the wrong building; vaccination requirements were the domain of the Department of Health.

Should decisions relating to school opening health issues be made by the NYS Department of Health?

.Governor Cuomo appointed a Reimaging Education Task Force, New York City Mayor de Blasio a school re-opening Advisory Committee and the Regents identified a few hundred education leaders from every constituency across the state.

The State Education Department has held four regional meetings, “guidance” from experts and many resources for parents and schools (see here)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published “guidance” for schools, as well as the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association also issuing in-depth guides.

The CDC guidance is clear,

  • Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.
  • More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures, or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).
  • Highest Risk: Full sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.

How much “risk” do teachers and parents think they want to expose themselves  and their children too?

Chris Hayes is simply wrong. As states rushed to re-open, Texas, Florida, Arizona and other COVID cases exploded. Ironically New York State, the first state to confront the explosion is now one of the few states that appear to have corralled the spread of the virus.

New York City is slowly and carefully crafting plans with many, many questions to be answered:

  • Temperature checks at entrances for adults
  • Protocols for COVID positive staff and students
  • Testing prior to the beginning of the school year for all staff
  • School cleaning
  • Protocols for “at-risk” staff members, and
  • Social distancing school models, i. e., alternative days, alternate weeks, others.

As school districts cobble together plans advocacy organizations are releasing instructional and teacher training suggestions for September, the Center for NYC Affairs  plan here  and the NYU Metro Center is hosting a virtual conference here.

As the school community inches towards a re-opening plan Mayor de Blasio announced the possibility of layoffs, and UFT President Mulgrew responded,

On June 24, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would play to lay off up to 22,000 city workers to fill the budget gap left by the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, UFT President Michael Mulgrew issued the following statement: 

There’s a “thank you for your service” during the pandemic — a layoff notice for thousands of city workers who created an unparalleled virtual education program, staffed the clinics, drove the ambulances and kept other city services going.

The New York City budget is due June 30th, neither the Mayor nor the City Council wants an Emergency Financial Control Board; a budget will be in place.

The governor, after reviewing state revenues as of July 1, under his emergency power can adjust the budget, aka, further reductions or release of additional funds.

The HEROES bill is stalled in the Senate, without the passage of the bill a bad situation will undoubtedly continue to deteriorate.

The September re-opening plans are overwhelmed by the specter of layoffs.

Sleep late Monday morning, remember the “rules,” exercise, meditate, improve your remote learning teaching skills, take long walks on beaches or the country, just another chapter in your memoirs.

A dark song performed and written by a friend …..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7EAnbCzMH8&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3DA8HizYiGJhEuFN4Rum-pwMMJRgUkDpSIwOLp4mC4oYoSawPx9fFUA1U

Can We De-Police Schools and Assure Safety for Students and Staff?

A world turned right side up … the grandchildren of the civil rights demonstrators of the sixties seized the day, injustices centuries old bubbled and erupted, maybe our quiescent world is changing.

In New York State a number of police accountability and transparency concepts rapidly passed the legislature, signed by the governor and became law.

Cries of “defund the police” were heard across the nation, n some school districts zero tolerance and armed police are commonplace in schools.

The sharp criticism of the police is not new; the Black Lives Matter in Schools movement has been calling for “counselors not cops,’ as part of their platform.

School policing is looked upon as repression,

School policing is inextricably linked to this country’s long history of oppressing and criminalizing Black and Brown people and represents a belief that people of color need to be controlled and intimidated. Historically, school police have acted as agents of the state to suppress student organizing and movement building, and to maintain the status quo. Local, state and federal government agencies, designed to protect dominant White power institutions, made the intentional decision to police schools in order to exercise control of growing power in Black and Brown social movements

 In New York City the de Blasio administration removed police from schools and ended the position of Youth Officer in precincts. If there is a situation requiring police principals are instructed to call 911, no longer any special treatment.

School suspensions have been dramatically reduced as well as the length of suspensions.

The reaction to accusations of over-policing has been calls for sharp reductions in police budgets, and, in New York City the elimination of scanning and the movement of the supervision of School Safety Officers from the police back to the Department of Education. (See NYU Metro Center blog)

During this moment of nation-wide opposition to police killings of Black men and women, we should consider ending two longstanding NYC public school security policies–the NYPD’s control of the city’s School Security Agents, and the imposition of metal detectors in selected city schools.

  Kathleen Nolan, Police in the Hallways, (2012) spent a year in a high school in the Bronx and paints a dreary picture of a school oppressed by a “culture of control,” leading to frequent summonses and arrests,

         Although a variety of policies and practices were part of the culture of control inside xxHS, the most central was the systematic use of order-maintenance-style policing. This included law-enforcement officials’ patrolling of the hallways, the use of criminal-procedural-level strategies, and the pervasive threats of summonses and arrest

Will the removal of scanning improve the quality of life for students?

In the midst of the pandemic we see states opening their economies in spite of spiking numbers of infections: a triage, weighing increasing fatalities against the wishes of voters and the revival of the state economy.

Is the removal of scanning the equivalent?

In early 1990’s the Board of Education decided to place scanners in twenty schools. The principal of one of the schools, Thomas Jefferson High School, objected vociferously, her students must not be treated as criminals. The Board relented and Jefferson was removed from the scanning list. A year later a student was fatally shot in the school.

I blogged about the incident here, take a few minutes and read, one of my better efforts.

What is lacking is asking students and staff: do they feel safe in schools?  Have the de Blasio reforms made schools safer?

Max Eden uses student and teacher school climate surveys, an annual collection of data by the Department of Education, over 80% of students and staff complete the surveys; in “School Discipline Reform and Disorder Evidence from New York City Public Schools”    2012 –2016 (March, 2017) Eden challenges the impact of the reforms and concludes,

 … [schools] where an overwhelming majority of students are not white saw huge deteriorations in climate during the de Blasio reform. This suggests that de Blasio’s discipline reform had a significant disparate impact by race, harming minority students the most.

How do we reconcile the positions of advocates, both inside and outside of schools with the data reflecting the views of large percentages of students/staff inside of schools?

UPDATE: How do students feel about the impact of School Safety Officers in schools? See article from Chalkbeat  here.

To add to the complexity, the de-policing of schools advocates and electeds (many running for office next year) demanded that SSO supervision be removed from the police department and moved back to the schools, to the principals.

The Police Commissioner immediately agreed, the move would remove $300 million from his budget without the loss of a single police officer.

The Speaker of the City Council, Corey Johnson agreed with the concept, without speaking to the union leader, who unleashed a scathing attack calling Johnson a racist

There are 5,000 SSO’s, 90% are of color, 70% are women, many live in the neighborhoods of the schools in which they work, and many have worked in the schools for many years.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew was aghast, as the Department is struggling to maintain services, struggling to create a school opening scenario, struggling to prevent a wave of layoffs, ” … this is not the time to consider dramatic and possibly disruptive changes in school security.”  The SSO’s are currently being used to hand out masks, to work in the feeding centers, working in communities,  distributing informational materials and answering community questions.

The weekly “Stated Meeting” of the City Council was held today, and, the question of “defund the police” was defined as transferring dollars from the police budget to fund “safety net” programs in the most CIVID impacted communities, Council Speaker Johnson made it clear that Mayor de Blasio has resisted.

The budget must be agreed upon by the Mayor and the Council by June 30th, if the Mayor and the City Council fail to agree on a budget a Financial Control Board can replace the Mayor and the Council in making financial determinations and the Governor would no qualms about becoming the “de facto” mayor.

Why is the Board of Regents Leadership “Bleeding” Public Schools by Allowing Charter Expansion?

Charter Schools were created in the late 1980s as “engines of innovation,” schools in which innovative and unique teaching techniques can be modeled; Albert Shanker, the President of the American Federation of Teachers was a supporter.

As charter laws blossomed across the nation Shanker withdrew his support; instead of “engines of innovation” charter schools were marketed as schools competing with public schools: let the schools with the highest achievement survive. Nobel Prize economist and “free market” advocate Milton Freedman became the philosophical foundation of charter schools.

Today many charter schools have moved in a somewhat different direction; seeking to educate the highest achievers in poor communities. WEB DuBois, a sociologist and founding member of the NAACP advocated the education of the “Talented Tenth,”

“The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the best of this race that they may guide the mass away from the contamination and death of the worst, in their own and other races”

Public schools educate whoever walks through their doors, regardless of economic status, disability and language barriers.

 The charter school law requires a lottery to gain admittance and charter schools advertise widely to enlarge the pool and attract “upwardly socially mobile” parents, in other words, the “talented tenth.”

 The New York State Charter School law prohibits gifted charter schools and requires charter schools to enroll students with disabilities, English language learners and Title 1 eligible students.

 a  charter school designed to provide expanded learning opportunities for students at-risk of  academic  failure or students with disabilities and English language learners; and provided, further,  that  the  charter   school shall demonstrate  good  faith  efforts  to attract and retain a comparable or greater enrollment of  students  with  disabilities,  English  language learners,  and  students  who  are  eligible applicants for the free and reduced price lunch program when compared to the enrollment figures for such  students  in  the  school  district in which the charter school is located.

If you look at charter school data virtually every charter school enrolls fewer than the “comparable” percentages required in the law. The reason is abundantly clear, students with disabilities and English language learners frequently have lower standardized test scores, impact the charter renewal process and are more costly to educate, i.e., lower class size = more teachers.

The State Education Department (not the law) has established Charter School Frameworks (Read Frameworks here)

Benchmark 1: Proficiency at the elementary/middle school level shall be defined as achieving a performance level of 3 or higher on Grade 3-8 state assessments in ELA, math,

Benchmark 9: The school is meeting or making annual progress toward meeting the enrollment plan outlined in its charter and its enrollment and retention targets for students with disabilities, English language learners, and students who are eligible applicants for the free and reduced priced lunch program; or has demonstrated that it has made extensive good faith efforts to attract, recruit, and retain such students.

At the June 8th Regent Meeting, a six-hour remote meeting half the meeting was debate over the renewal and expansion of grades in charter schools.

A Buffalo charter school requested a re-vote on a grade extension that had been denied at the May meeting, after a clarification the Board was agreeable to grant the extension; however, the school had failed to meet “comparable” percentage of SWD and Ell students over four years, and, was required to file an Corrective Action Plan,

February 2019, the school was required by NYSED to provide a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to increase enrollment of students with disabilities (SWDs) and English language learners (ELLs)/Multilingual learners (MLLs) to meet the proportions enrolled in the district of location. In the spring of 2020, the school was required to address these same enrollment issues. The school is currently implementing the specific strategies outlined in the CAP and provides quarterly progress reports and updates to the NYSED Charter School Office (CSO). The CAP will be closely monitored, and the Department will report to the Regents, as necessary.

 Regent Collins, representing the Buffalo region moved to renew the charter for three years, instead of the five allowed by statute. If the school met the conditions in the Corrective Action Plan the charter could be extended to the full five years: apparently a non-controversial and reasonable request.

Chancellor Rosa, Vice –Chancellor Brown and others spoke into opposition to Dr. Collin’s motion!! It was defeated 10-7.

Why would the leaders of the Board turn down a request that will have no negative impact to the school, except, if the school fails to comply with the Corrective Action Plan?

Is Dr. Collins too outspoken at Regents Meetings? Is she being punished? Are charter schools in Buffalo being favored over public schools?

There are currently 19 charter schools in Buffalo with more in the pipeline – 9,000 students and charter funding comes out of the Buffalo School budget.

(9,000 x $12,000 per student = $108,000,000), not a paltry sum, especially in a district that even before the pandemic was fiscally challenged.

Later in the meeting three New York City charter schools were on the agenda, one of the schools wanted to add high school grades; although there is a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools State Ed staff interpreted the law as allowing grade  expansion, in my opinion, an attempt to circumvent the law and should have not been allowed by the state.

The math scores in the school were in the “far below standard” category, ninety percent of teachers were “teaching out of their certification area,” the state average is eleven percent and the register in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade, was sharply reduced, from 71 (6th grade), to 46 (7th grade) and 29 (8th grade): what happened to the kids?  In addition the school SWD and ELL students are far below the district averages.

Why did the NYC Department of Education approve the application?  Why did the SED approve the application?

The school has a lobbyist  who was a college roommate of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. I’m sure that’s only a coincidence. btw, who paid the lobbyist?

In spite of objections from some Regents members the SED lawyer bundled all three schools together instead of decoupling and voting separately.

Regent Cashin made a motion: a moratorium on approval of new charters and the grade expansion of existing charter schools for the remainder of the COVID emergency.  She explained that with sharp cuts in district budgets, with districts facing layoffs and disruptions, to transfer money from public schools budgets to charter school budgets was unconscionable. The SED lawyer ruled her motion was “out of order.”

Any member of the Board can make a motion at any time. The Board should vote on whether to place the motion on the agenda. The Board “owns” the motion, not the lawyer, who is not a Board member.

If the lawyer meant the motion was not “germane” he was still wrong. If he was serving as a parliamentarian he gives advice to the chair, he does not participate in the debate, or make determinate decisions

The action of Regent Brown, who was chairing the committee and the lawyer, simply has a noxious aroma.

I’m disappointed in the actions of the “majority.” Regents Collins and Cashin are passionate supporters of public schools, both have long distinguished careers, in my view they were treated shabbily.

In fact, the New York City Affinity District  allows for the same level of flexibility as charter schools, and, schools within the Affinity cluster are far more “innovative” than any charter.

Charter Schools have become an anachronism.

We should “fold” charter schools into autonomous clusters within school districts, that would require a change in the law.

Read more about the Affinity District here.

When elephants fight, it is the [New Yorkers] that suffer, [amended African Proverb]

States, counties and cities are facing catastrophic budget shortfalls; unemployment rates not seen since the Great Depression and uncertainty over the re-opening of businesses and schools.  Each day as expenditures exceed revenues the deficits widen,

While the state budget was approved on April 1, under his emergency powers the governor can adjust the budget, in other words the budget is malleable; depending on revenues the budget can be adjusted after the July 1st.

A bill, the HEROES Act passed the House, it provides over $1 trillion for a wide range of supports.

Will the HEROES Act  pass the Senate? And, if so, how will the Senate change the House bill?

The current House bill would be a life-saver for New York City as well as cities across the state (See proposed $$ to each city here). Speculation is that the final bill will not come before the Senate until late June and will look considerably different than the bill that passed in the House.  The final bill has to “satisfy” Senate leader McConnell, the Republicans and the President.

In a normal year the Mayor and the City Council Speaker would be deep in discussions over the final budget. New York City, since the sweeping governance changes in the late eighties, is a “Strong Mayor,” system. The Mayor has wide discretion over the allocation of resources, the Council, aside from approving the budget; its powers are limited to land use and the holding of hearings.  (Read a fascinating account of New York City governance and the emergence of the current configuration here).

Corey Johnson, the leader of the Council is a candidate for mayor.  Scott Stringer, the Comptroller, is also running for mayor, as well as the Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Boro President and who knows who else …. Andrew Yang? The ranked-choice primary will be held in June, 2021.

Taking “shots” at a weakened term-limited mayor is de rigueur in the world of politics.

Stringer calls for a $1B cut in the NYPD over four years by attrition and using the funds for community programs (Read presser here).

Meanwhile the Independent Budget Office (IBO) paints a bleak picture of New York City’s economy over the next few years,

The coronavirus pandemic has put New York City in the worst economic crunch in decades, with 22% of residents currently out of work and City Hall mired in a nearly $9 billion budget gap.  

 The state government in Albany is facing an even more dire fiscal situation than the city. Rather than providing assistance to the city, the state has looked to the city for fiscal relief. The state budget adopted last month includes hundreds of millions of dollars of cost shifts from the state to the city, including a direct raid on the city’s sales tax revenues. In short, New York City is facing nearly unprecedented challenges as it struggles to maintain budget balance, protect vital services, and provide a safe and healthy environment for individuals who want to live, work, or visit here

After the police clashed with demonstrators and widespread looting occurred the governor threatened to remove the mayor. Can the governor remove the mayor?

(See the text of the City Charter and State law below)

 “What happened in New York City was inexcusable,” Cuomo said during his Tuesday press conference, unprompted. “I have offered the National Guard; the mayor has said he can handle it with the NYPD. My option is to displace the mayor of New York City and bring in the National Guard as the governor in a state of emergency and basically take over … the mayor’s job. You’d have to displace the mayor.”

One would hope and expect that electeds: the governor, the mayor and the candidates will work together to restore the city, to make the city into a better place. We are in a moment in time when sweeping change is possible. Change is inevitable, and change can be disruptive, not all change make education better.

Teachers simply want to back to their classrooms in a safe environment, and we have yet to define safe.

I suspect some of the elements of remote teaching, can be incorporated, adding remote parent conferences to in-school conferences, one on one remote learning to reinforce in-school learning, remote conferences in lieu of out of school meetings, etc., and probably more.

If, however, the decision-makers, continue to bicker, to try and use the crisis for political advantage schools can slide into an abyss.

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

Dante Alighieri

 

Its Friday; gray and rainy, listen to Rhiannon Giddens, “Leaving Eden,” a poignant song in troubling times, one of my favorites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcCmg9Oj9XM

 

The Removal of a Mayor in New York State

“The mayor may be removed from office by the governor upon charges and after service upon him of a copy of the charges and an opportunity to be heard in his defense. Pending the preparation and disposition of charges, the governor may suspend the mayor for a period not exceeding thirty days.”  (NYC Charter)

“The chief executive officer of every city and the chief or commissioner of police, commissioner or director of public safety or other chief executive officer of the police force by whatever title he may be designated, of every city may be removed by the governor after giving to such officer a copy of the charges against him and an opportunity to be heard in his defense.  The power of removal provided for in this subdivision shall be deemed to be in addition to the power of removal provided for in any other law.  The provisions of this subdivision shall apply notwithstanding any inconsistent provisions of any general, special or local law, ordinance or city charter.” (NYS Law)

 

 

Its Friday; gray and rainy, listen to Rhiannon Giddens, “Leaving Eden,” a poignant song in troubling times, one of my favorites.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcCmg9Oj9XM

Who will be selected as the next NYS Commissioner of Education? From within NYS? The acting Commissioner? A National Leader?  Will Principals/Teachers/Parents be part of the search process?

At the July Regents Meeting Commissioner Elia announced she is resigning her position as state commissioner  effective August 31st.

The only shock about the resignation Monday of state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is that it came so soon. 

Tension between Elia and the Regents that had been building for more than a year hit a new peak at the board’s June monthly meetings.

The Board of Regents appointed Beth Berlin, a highly effective deputy as acting commissioner. A few months later Berlin left the Department for a job as COO at SUNY Empire College; somewhat surprisingly the Board appointed Shannon Tahoe, the Board attorney as acting commissioner.

On Thursday, May 28th, the position was posted  with a quick return date of Monday, June 8th.

The Board seeks an individual who will bring visionary, transformative, inclusive, equitable, and decisive leadership to the position as the Board’s chief executive officer.

And goes on to describe the “attributes (the term used in the posting) sought in the next commissioner,

The Board of Regents seeks an individual with exceptional qualities of leadership, statesmanship, and unquestionable integrity … the ability to articulate a shared vision that will shape the future of the state’s largest educational enterprise, bringing creative, can-do problem-solving while carrying out the goals and policies of the Board of Regents in a responsible manner. As the face and voice of the NYSED, the Commissioner will be a forward-thinking, inspirational, and compelling statewide communicator.

 … Regents Search Committee will identify a candidate with considerable emotional intelligence who will embrace the power of continuity with change.  

 Will the Search Committee include stakeholders?

I would list a few “attributes” that are more realistic,

* The ability to j ump tall buildings in a single bound and faster than a speeding bullet

* A reptilian skin and, at times, a venomous tongue

* Jesus-Moses-Mohammad-Buddha-like patience

* A combination of Lincoln and MLK oratorical skills

* Financial wizardry

* Political skills of LBJ and Boss Tweed

*Skilled in meditation, yoga and mindfulness

* A classmate of Plato in Socrates’ class

 The posting requires that “The successful applicant will have an earned doctorate/terminal degree from an accredited institution of higher education (preferred) and a record,“ and lists fifteen “attributes,” most of which are “soft skills.”

Does the applicant have to have been a public school teacher, school leader and superintendent?  I don’t know, I’m probably too old-fashioned.

New York State is unique, the governor has no formal roll in education governance, the legislature selects the Board of Regents members and the Board selects the commissioner, the powers emanate from the State Constitution, on the other hand, the Board and the commissioner have no role in determining the budget or the allocation of the budget, the funding formula: an awkward configuration. (BTW, New York State leads the nation in inequitable funding among schools). There are a few exceptions, the My Brothers Keeper initiative ($18m) is funded through the budget and managed by the commissioner.

I know this sounds crazy, the commissioner does not select, supervise and has limited authority over the 700 school districts and 4400 schools. Elected school boards hire superintendents and curriculum is the responsibility of the school district.

The commissioner requires specific legislation to intervene in any school district.

The Board of Regents and the SUNY Charter Institute are charter school authorizers and the commissioner recommends to the Board new charters, charter renewals and charter changes.

The Board and the new commissioner will be deeply engaged in a two year long review of graduation requirements,

The commissioner plays a major role in the “professions” determining licensing requirements and regulations and well as proprietary schools..

In other words, it’s a complex job that requires being on the same “wave length” as the seventeen members of the Board of Regents, an ear at the governor’s keyhole, a respectful relationship with the legislature and, of course, working closely with unions and parent advocacy organizations.

Once upon a time a senior superintendent from the state would be selected as commissioner, and serve for many years with nary a mention in the media.

These days education is “covered” by print and online media on a daily basis.

Who are the frontrunners?

Do you go back to the former model and select a current senior superintendent or a popular younger superintendent, maybe Michael Hynes  currently superintendent in Port Washington.

Rudy Crew, a former New York City superintendent announced he is leaving as President of Medgar Evers College ….

Are any of the current Board of Regents members interested? Six of the current Regents were superintendents in New York State, or,

perhaps a current superintendent from a large urban city or a commissioner in another state,

or, the current acting commissioner, Shannon Tahoe,

or, a candidate with a national reputation, perhaps Josh Starr.

What do you think?  Any other candidates that would be a good fit?

Any currently unemployed super heroes?

Governor Cuomo: Machiavellian, Presidential, or Both?

The rumors began only a few weeks before the Democratic National Convention, New York State Governor Cuomo’s national popularity numbers were off the chart. Cuomo consistently maintained he had no interest in any other office; however, every one of his press conference was a mixture of science and FDR like fireside chats. New York State has continued to “flatten the curve,” and far beyond. Businesses were opening, within strict guidelines, the state economy recovering, the governor appointed an Emergency Financial Control Board in New York City, effectively replacing the mayor and the council. Cuomo has met with Trump more than any other governor his daily press conferences paint a pathway to a national recovery, a trillion dollar infrastructure plan.

 With Cuomo polling number soaring Trump tweeted, “If I wasn’t running I’d vote for my friend Governor Cuomo.”

 While the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the Bernie and Warren supporters oppose Cuomo Republican voters see him as a middle of the road candidate. Cuomo’s statement, “We are neither blue nor red, neither Republican nor Democrat, we are all Americans,” has become the cry of a vast majority of voters across the nation

 The Convention selected Governor Cuomo as the Democratic candidate for the presidency by acclimation.

 I don’t think my little vignette will come to pass …. however …

Politics in New York State has always been rough and tumble. In 1866, a Surrogate wrote: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”

The originally part time legislature met in Albany for a few days a week from January to June, most legislators had other jobs. The legislature was dominated by the “three men in a room,” the governor and the leaders of both houses. Slowly the legislature became a full time job, although until recently the salary ($79,500 per year) did not attract many possible candidates (The salary was increased a few years ago to $120,000)

One of the three men was Sheldon Silver, the leader of the Assembly, the others the Governor and the Senate leader were Republicans. Silver was masterful in extracting concessions from Republicans and ruled his members with an iron fist. Read one of my blogs comparing Silver to Cardinal Richelieu.

If you give me six lines written by the most honest man I will find something in them to hang him.

Cardinal Richelieu

Silver’s power to threaten, intimidate and coerce ended with his conviction in federal court.

There is now one man in a room: Governor Cuomo.

I suspect on Governor’s Cuomo night table you might find a copy of Machiavelli’s “The Prince.”

The word Machiavellian has unsavory overtones, cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics; I disagree.

Machiavelli was a 16th philosopher/political scientist who wrote a guidebook intended for his patron, Lorenzo d’Medici

Spend a few minutes watching a superb u-tube explaining the impact of Machiavelli on today’s politics and business.

A few quotes from “The Prince,”

“The vulgar crowd is always taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.”

  “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”

 “A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it.”

Philip Bobbitt, a constitutional scholar, sees Machiavelli as a clear-sighted prophet of a new constitutional order with its basis in the union of strategy and law”.

This new kind of state could,… be regarded as entirely separate from the people who temporarily acted as its custodians. And the preservation of the state might require its custodians to act in ways that conflict with traditional ethical principles. … Machiavelli had a sense of the state as a constitutional entity which must be preserved at all costs. The imperative to preserve the state, and with it the public good, could justify many deeds traditionally regarded as immoral, 

And Cuomo, might see himself as “preserving the state, with it the public good,” following the guidebook of his ancestor.

Cuomo’s treatment of de Blasio was certainly Machiavellian.

In 2013 de Blasio was the first democrat elected as mayor of New York City in twenty years, and, under his leadership the city thrived.

The Cuomo v deBlasio battle has been epic, at every opportunity Cuomo undercut, belittled, embarrassed de Blasio, after all, there is only one throne.

A few days ago de Blasio floated the city borrowing to reduce the looming deficit – an action requiring state approval, Cuomo immediately demurred, the bill has passed both houses of the legislature and requires the governor’s approval.

If the mayor and the council cannot agree on a balanced budget by July 1 the city’s finances will default to a gubernatorial-appointed Emergency Financial Control Board /,

The governor’s press conference today (Watch here) filled with data, and, presidential comments condemning the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis as well as racial inequality in America.

Watch the Biden statement here.

Am I being too cynical?

Am I too harsh in my assessment of Governor Cuomo?

Cuomo has emerged from the shadows of Albany and is leading the state; he is a model for other governors.

The Democratic National Convention is August 17th.

Let’s end with Pete Seeger, “Which Side Are You On?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XEnTxlBuGo

The University of California System Abandons the SAT/ACT: Will SUNY Follow? How Will Prospective Students Be Selected?

In a historic move likely to have national repercussions, the University of California Board of Regents voted … to stop requiring students to submit college-entrance tests the SAT or ACT for admissions purposes. The vote was a unanimous 23-0.

The system has given itself until the fall of 2025 to develop a bespoke standardized test for California residents. If the UC cannot create a new test that better aligns with what students learned in school, it’ll drop the testing requirement completely for Californians. 

The debate over college admissions has been ongoing for years, many years: Are the current tests discriminatory? Can you create a non-discriminatory test? Are other methods, for example, class standing discriminatory to another class of students?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT, has been around, in many forms, since the 1920s.  The SAT (and the more recent ACT) have been the gatekeepers determining admission to colleges. Elite colleges have required higher scores and have made allowances for legacy students, students of alumni, commonly contributors to the school.

The research is overwhelming re the discriminatory impact of current “standardized” tests.

The evidence for a stubborn race gap on this test does… provide a snapshot into the extraordinary magnitude of racial inequality in contemporary American society.

 Standardized tests are often seen as mechanisms for meritocracy, ensuring fairness in terms of access. But test scores reflect accumulated advantages and disadvantages in each day of life up the one on which the test is taken. Race gaps on the SAT hold up a mirror to racial inequities in society as a whole.

 Equalizing educational opportunities and human capital acquisition earlier is the only way to ensure fairer outcomes.

The evidence that the SAT has a “disparate impact” is clear.

A 2015 analysis from Inside Higher Ed found that in each of the three parts of the SAT (reading, writing and language and math), the lowest average scores were among students from families who make less than $20,000 in family income, while the highest averages were among students from families who make more than $200,000.

  SAT scores showed continued patterns in which white and Asian students, on average, receive higher scores than do black and Latino students. And, as has been the case for years, students from wealthier families score better than do those from disadvantaged families.

 In December, 2019, a long awaited law suit was filed challenging the use of the SAT and the ACT in California,

“Rather than fulfilling its vision as ‘[a]n engine of opportunity for all Californians’ and creating a level playing field in which all students are evaluated based on individual merit, the [University of California] requires all applicants to subject themselves to SAT and ACT tests that are demonstrably discriminatory against the State’s least privileged students, the very students who would most benefit from higher education,” the lawsuit states.

“These discriminatory tests irreparably taint UC’s ostensibly ‘holistic’ admissions process, …The mere presence of the discriminatory metric of SAT and ACT scores in the UC admissions process precludes admissions officers from according proper weight to meaningful criteria, such as academic achievement and personal qualities, and requires them instead to consider criteria that act as a proxy for wealth and race and thus concentrate privilege on UC campuses.”

Rather than defending the lawsuit, the California Board of Regents is planning to abandon the tests.

A growing list of colleges has made their application process “test optional,” see list of colleges here.

If you abandon the use of the SAT and the ACT, how do you select students?

The California Board of Regents laid out a plan, that includes attempting to create non-discriminatory tests.

In the meantime the system will become “test optional,” although prospective students can seek admission under current rules,

California [residents] can still submit test scores to become eligible through the “statewide guarantee admissions,” which combines high school grades and test scores to give students a spot in any campus that has space if the student is in the top nine percent of applicants.

 If the new process results in fewer Asian and White students and more Afro-American and Latinx students will the plan be challenged in the courts? 

 The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 vote supported the University of Texas “Top Ten Percent Plan,” the Court wrote,

 Top Ten Percent Plan was narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. … Previous precedent had established that educational diversity is a compelling interest as long as it is expressed as a concrete and precise goal that is neither a quota of minority students nor an amorphous idea of diversity. In this case, the Court determined that the University of Texas sufficiently expressed a series of concrete goals along with a reasoned explanation for its decision to pursue these goals along with a thoughtful consideration of why previous attempts to achieve the goals had not been successful. The University of Texas’ plan is also narrowly tailored to serve this compelling interest because there are no other available and workable alternatives for doing so.

With the retirement of Justice Kennedy (a “yes” vote) and the addition of Justices Gorsuch and Gallagher (probable “no” votes) the California plan will have to be carefully crafted.

The federal court challenge to the New York City; the use of the Discovery Program to admit greater numbers of Afro-American and Latinx students to the Specialized High Schools is still alive in the courts, although stumbling,

Plaintiffs argue that the Discovery program changes, though facially neutral, discriminate against Asian-Americans because the changes disproportionately hurt Asian-Americans and, critical here, Defendants intended the changes to do so. The Court finds that Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed in showing discriminatory intent and the program changes are thus likely subject to rational basis review. As a consequence, Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their equal protection claim.

I anticipate a long and winding road.

Will the New York State SUNY Board consider following the same pathway?

To the best of my knowledge the SUNY board has shown no interest in the issue; although as the COVID catastrophe begins to wind down and we begin to return to the “new normal” the issue may begin to surface.

For every applicant admitted another applicant is rejected, the number of seats is a constant: Can you devise a plan that is acceptable to all applicants and the courts?

In New York City the answer is “no” for the Specialized High Schools: a complicated and contentious issue involving race, class and ethnicity; will it be different in California? Or SUNY?

What Would Re-Opened Schools Look Like? Who Decides?

The UFT President Michael Mulgrew has been holding virtual meetings with teacher union (UFT) members: focus groups to get 1:1 feedback, scores of them as well as Town Halls, virtual meetings with many hundreds of members. One of the first questions was about school re-openings. Mulgrew was frank, the re-opening meetings are just beginning, nothing will be decided for many weeks, on the table, half days to reduce class size in the elementary schools, alternate days in upper grades, and, of course, safety first will be the guide.

A few days ago the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued long delayed guidance; however, Washington has no authority over school openings or closing, these decisions are reserved for the states.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

 Governor Cuomo has daily briefing and opening sections of the state to phase 1 openings, Long Island may join the others areas next week. (See detailed re-opening guide here).

The CDC guidance has a special section for schools with specific recommendations.

o Ensure that student and staff groupings are as static as possible by having the same group of children stay with the same staff (all day for young children, and as much as possible for older children).

o Restrict mixing between groups.

o Cancel all field trips, inter-group events, and extracurricular activities.

o Limit gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities to those that can maintain social distancing, support proper hand hygiene, and restrict attendance of those from higher transmission areas.

o Restrict nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving other groups at the same time.

o Space seating/desks to at least six feet apart.

o Turn desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart.

o Close communal use spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds if possible; otherwise stagger use and disinfect in between use.

o If a cafeteria or group dining room is typically used, serve meals in classrooms instead. Serve individually plated meals and hold activities in separate classrooms and ensure the safety of children with food allergies.

o Stagger arrival and drop-off times or locations, or put in place other protocols to limit close contact with parents or caregivers as much as possible.

o Create social distance between children on school buses (for example, seating children one child per seat, every other row) where possible

Read the entire school section here

The CDC sets a very high bar, for many unrealistic for schools; CDC guidance is not a requirement; the governor can accept the CDC guidance, can set New York State opening standards or can derogate the standards to school districts.

What will be the role of teacher unions? Parent groups? Other elected bodies, such as school boards, local elected leaders or the Assembly and Senate?

In New York City the UFT, the teacher union will play a major role.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the national teacher union led by Randi Weingarten released a data-based guide to schools openings, read here

The unanswered questions are endless: will high risk teachers (by age or health concerns) be required to return to school or can they continue to remote instruct in some capacity?

What happens in a school if a child or teacher tests positive? Does the entire school return to remote instruction?

What would instruction look like in a world of fully implemented CDC guidance?

The NYU Metro Center issued a report, GUIDANCE ON CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE-SUSTAINING SCHOOL REOPENINGS: Centering Equity to Humanize the Process of Coming Back Together.(Read  report here).

The country is on the brink of beginning again. And as we restart our national engines, let’s do so with a steady and caution hand, not taking for granted the sobering lessons that COVID-19 is teaching us: that in a nation as fundamentally carved out of its differences as ours, equity matters. Thus, it would be a mistake to imagine the school reopening process absent an acknowledgement that something fundamentally has taken place in our world, that the thing that interrupted life for millions of Americans afflicted vulnerable populations in ways disproportionate to more privileged populations. In acknowledging this, we provide this document—a set of suggestions and topics to think about—for humanizing the school reopening process

The report goes far beyond the CDC guidance and sees an opportunity,

A joy-based reimagining of schooling will involve more human-to-human interaction, collaborative learning, less or no homework, very few assessments that are continuous in nature and group assessments that feel less burdensome. A joy-based reimagining of schooling is one where we replicate spaces that center students of the global majority (BIPOC)* and let go of anything that continues to marginalize, exclude, and harm them.

 * Black/Indigenous People of Color

 

For many the NYU Metro Center paper will be treated with exultation, a fresh start, for others, disdain, let’s return to an instructional model that we have spent decades fine-tuning.

A  respected college professor,Sarah Woulfin,

Yessss! I’ve shared this plan with a couple of districts

The highly influential LI Opt Outs leader, Jeanette Deutermann gives thoughtful advice, with over 150 comments, many angry …

Jeanette Brunelle Deutermann

I know the question of whether schools will reopen in the fall, and if so what they will look like, is scary and making everyone anxious (with anger mixing into that anxiety). … Everyone is arguing over things that are just theories right now …please take a breath. The virus itself is not political. The solution for schools won’t be either. I don’t care if you believe the virus is real or not. It doesn’t change the fact that September will be unrecognizable. That is the only fact we know. The real work will be in designing something that works to keep our kids and school staff safe.


I am updating this by saying that I’m not urging school officials not to begin planning. I’m urging parents not to go to war over theoretical possibilities. The work on this will be a four month process that is just beginning. One thing is for sure- raging battles in our communities amongst each other will NOT benefit the process

As Jeanette says, “please, take a breath,” any decision will be driven by data and, the decisions require extremely complicated logistics. How do you create social distancing on school buses? How do you arrange bus schedules if schools go to separate morning and afternoon sessions?  And on and on.

Stress is unhealthy: exercise, meditate, healthy diet, take care of yourself, anger can be corrosive.

Listen to Carole King, “You’ve Got a Friend”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qde5NMy7WTU