Tag Archives: Thomas Piketty

How will the decision to re-open schools be made? What will re-opened schools look like?

“You can’t bring back a life; you can start a new business”

 “There’s no on/off switch”

Sunday morning Mayor de Blasio outlined his “Restart” proposals (See here  on Twitter) and a few hours later Governor Cuomo outlined his “Reimagine” Plan (Read here).

Perhaos, just perhaps, de Blasio and Cuomo could shake hands, virtujally of course, and work together.

Both plans are light on education,

De Blasio appointed a task force that will report out a draft proposal by June 1st, Cuomo spoke in general terms about a phased re-opening based on two weeks of positive data, aka, the curves continuing to decline.

Cuomo mused about the whether schools should open in the summer. Summer schools to make up for remote learning losses, and, acknowledged that we were unprepared for the instantaneous switch from classroom instruction to remote learning.

Some sections of the state have low levels of COVID infections and low rates of transmission: Cuomo proposed a phased re-opening starting with low incidence sections of the state: will schools be included?

School openings must be guided by medical advice; however, the decision will be made by the governor.

The UFT started a Change.org petition with specific requirements before reopening.

The following things need to be in place when buildings reopen:

  • Widespread access to coronavirus testing to regularly check that people are negative or have immunity
  • A process for checking the temperature of everyone who enters a school building
  • Rigorous cleaning protocols and personal protective gear in every school building
  • An exhaustive tracing procedure that would track down and isolate those who have had close contact with a student or staff member who  tests positive for the virus

Will the unions, school boards and parents be involved in the re-opening decisions?

The contradiction is that until the re-start, until businesses reopen the loss of revenues to the state will result in lower and lower revenue to cities: fewer policeman, fireman and teachers.

There is a cry: tax the billionaires.

Thomas Piketty, a French economist, argues, “Billionaires should be taxed out of existence;” others argue that its illusory, billionaires create corporations that create millions of jobs for the middle class.

A lengthier debate …

The state has announced another cut, a 20% cut in the budget, and, the date for school budget votes has not been set by the governor. If the state does not re-open there could be increasing reductions after July 1.

Could the continuing low levels of revenue result in layoffs of state and local employees?

Could it lead to teacher layoffs? After the 2008 Great Recession there were teacher layoffs across the state, not in New York City.

How do you weigh the positive economic impact of  a restart versus an upsurge in COVID infections?

The governor has made it clear that there are specific data points that must be met before businesses can be reopened and the reopening will be phased in guided by “precautions.”

Tourism is a major driver of the New York City economy; under what conditions will tourists return to the city?  Restaurants are also drivers of employment; once again, under what conditions can restaurants reopen?  Without tourism and restaurants it is hard to imagine the return of pre-COVD revenues.

Federal infusions of dollars are a stopgap until the economy can be restarted and it could easily be years before pre-COVID levels of revenues are reached: fewer dollars for schools and economic woes for the city.

Let’s raise a few school re-opening questions?

How will school buses practice social distancing?

In New York City and other Big Five cities, how will public transit practice social distancing?  Will every rider be required to wear a mask?  Will teachers feel safe taking public transit to get to school?

Is it possible to take the temperature of every bus/train rider?

What will classrooms look like?

Can you social distance in classrooms?

Can kids go to school on alternate days to reduce class size by half? And only move to full days if the data moves below medically established data points.

Can secondary schools move to end-to-end sessions?  As a student my high school had end-to-end sessions, as a teacher I programmed a 5,000 plus student high school on three overlapping sessions. My first year of teaching I was on late session – 11:40 to 6:00, some teachers took college classes in the morning, other partied late into the night (without social distancing, in fact, the opposite)

Would all teachers be tested before they could be returned to the classroom?

Can schools reopen and hold regular classes with the provisions in the change.org petition?

Dr Fauci warns about a return in the fall of both the regular flu and COVID.

I agree with Cuomo and de Blasio, every step must be guided by medical evidence, and hovering is the impact economic impact on the citizenry.

Over the next month or two the questions I raised will require answers.

Check out an old labor song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8Jas7J7JLA

Stay Safe.