"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Banks should "social distance" from education

An artist's conception of Rep. Jim Banks, R-IN, and
Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-WI pontificating about education.
NO (in-person) SCHOOL, NO MONEY!

U.S. Congressman, Jim Banks (IN-03), along with a colleague from Wisconsin, have decided that the health of those who attend school, work in schools, or are related to those who attend or work in schools doesn't matter.

In a blatant attempt at extortion, Banks and Tom Tiffany (R-WI) have introduced a bill that would require schools to open for in-person instruction by September 8, 2020, or face the loss of federal education dollars.

It apparently doesn't matter to Banks that there are places in the country where the coronavirus is resurging (including here in his home state of Indiana). It apparently doesn't matter to Banks that his bill would possibly expose children, their teachers, and their families, to a disease deadly to those in high-risk groups.

Perhaps Rep. Banks doesn't realize that the virus may not choose to cooperate with his timeline. Or, perhaps the real reason Banks wants to open schools -- no matter what -- is so they can babysit the nation's children.
Many parents rely on their kids going to school so they can go to work. To get our society up and running again, we need our children back in school.
I get it...people need to get back to work, but do we need to risk the lives of our children and their teachers to do it?


The good [sic] congressman suggests that other countries are opening their schools, so we should too.
“Other countries are doing this. Other countries are finding a way to get their kids back in the classroom and haven’t seen any upticks of COVID 19 cases by doing so.”
It is true that other countries are sending their children back to school, but not without safeguards. Schools are reducing class sizes, keeping students at a distance from one another, providing protective equipment, staggering classes, bus rides, lunches, and recesses, and checking students for fever before allowing them into the school. Increased funding would be needed for American schools to do all those things, especially for those schools that still haven't recouped the losses from the 2008 recession like those in Banks's home state.

Blogger Peter Greene (aka Curmudgucation) wrote...
The estimates on how much it will cost to make schools safe for the fall—everything from extra staff to PPE for those in school—run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Should this bill become law, it would be the most expensive unfunded mandate that school districts—and through them, local taxpayers—have ever been hit with. In fact, since schools would lose money if they failed to meet the mandate, it would become the first negatively funded mandate.
To expect schools to open on Bank's timeline without essential safeguards would be irresponsible and would threaten the lives of students, teachers, and their families. To provide the safeguards would cost much more than the federal education budget provides. Is Rep. Banks willing to include any funding in his bill? Easy question...the answer is "no."

As I wrote on May 19 in Have you met children?
Does anyone honestly think that politicians, especially the pro-privatization politicians who overwhelmingly inhabit state legislatures, will allocate enough money to pay for all the supplies, schedule adjustments, and training needed to accommodate teachers and students in socially distancing classrooms?

The health and safety of our children and the adults who work in their schools depend on our using reason and facts when deciding how to attack the problem of how to educate children during a global pandemic. The politicians, policy-makers, and pundits have already done enough damage to public education because they assume that since they were once students, they "know education."
Using reason and facts means that we need to determine the current extent of the coronavirus pandemic before we make a decision on how and when to open schools.

Using reason and facts means that we need to take precautions when we open schools to keep our students safe, especially those students who have special educational and physical needs.

Using reason and facts means that we need to accept that the changes needed to keep everyone safe -- students and teachers -- will cost money.

Using reason and facts means that we have to predict how students will react to the extreme changes that keeping safe during a pandemic will require.


My guess is that Rep. Banks has no understanding of what it would take to teach five- and six-year-olds social distancing rules.

In the same post from May, I quoted Harley Litzelman, a high school teacher, who said this about young children in school (emphasis mine)...
No more group seating. No story time on the carpet. No small group stations. Coloring must be strictly monitored to eliminate sharing, probably requiring children to keep their own personal sets of crayons and markers, revealing stark class differences within classrooms and between schools. No fingers in the mouth or nose, and several minutes spent washing their hands after they inevitably forget. They, too, cannot get out of their seats during class, and no longer can they enjoy the couches and bean bag chairs that their teachers have acquired. Again is the time to ask: Have you ever met children?
Until you're willing to put money where your mouth is, Rep. Banks, let state and local school boards decide when and how to go back to school. Just because you went to school doesn't mean you know squat about how to run a school, how schools work, and how kids behave.


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