Max Boot writes in the Washington Post. In this article, he says that people always thought that James Buchanan was the worst president because of his failure to prevent the Civil War, the most deadly conflict in American history. But he now believes Trump has edged out Buchanan for the dubious title of The Worst President Ever. By the way, the Queen of England gave a lovely speech yesterday, thanking Britons for their service and their spirit; she never once mentioned herself or her ratings. She said: Better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.” I was reminded of the World War II song, “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.” How lovely to have an articulate leader who speaks of “we” not “I.”

Max Boot writes:

The situation is so dire, it is hard to wrap your mind around it. The Atlantic notes: “During the Great Recession of 2007–2009, the economy suffered a net loss of approximately 9 million jobs. The pandemic recession has seen nearly 10 million unemployment claims in just two weeks.” The New York Times estimates that the unemployment rate is now about 13 percent, the highest since the Great Depression ended 80 years ago.

Far worse is the human carnage. We already have more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country. Trump claimed on Feb. 26 that the outbreak would soon be “down to close to zero.” Now he argues that if the death toll is 100,000 to 200,000 — higher than the U.S. fatalities in all of our wars combined since 1945 — it will be proof that he’s done “a very good job.”

No, it will be a sign that he’s a miserable failure, because the coronavirus is the most foreseeable catastrophe in U.S. history. The warnings about the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks were obvious only in retrospect. This time, it didn’t require any top-secret intelligence to see what was coming. The alarm was sounded in January by experts in the media and by leading Democrats including presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Government officials were delivering similar warnings directly to Trump.

A team of Post reporters wrote on Saturday: “The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus —the first of many—in the President’s Daily Brief.” But Trump wasn’t listening.

The Post article is the most thorough dissection of Trump’s failure to prepare for the gathering storm. Trump was first briefed on the coronavirus by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Jan. 18. But, The Post writes, “Azar told several associates that the president believed he was ‘alarmist’ and Azar struggled to get Trump’s attention to focus on the issue.” When Trump was first asked publicly about the virus, on Jan. 22, he said, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”

In the days and weeks after Azar alerted him about the virus, Trump spoke at eight rallies and golfed six times as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
Trump’s failure to focus, The Post notes, “sowed significant public confusion and contradicted the urgent messages of public health experts.” It also allowed bureaucratic snafus to go unaddressed — including critical failures to roll out enough tests or to stockpile enough protective equipment and ventilators.

Countries as diverse as Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, South Korea, Georgia and Germany have done far better — and will suffer far less. South Korea and the United States discovered their first cases on the same day. South Korea now has 183 dead — or 4 deaths per 1 million people. The U.S. death ratio (25 per 1 million) is six times worse — and rising quickly.

This fiasco is so monumental that it makes our recent failed presidents — George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — Mount Rushmore material by comparison. Trump’s Friday night announcement that he’s firing the intelligence community inspector general who exposed his attempted extortion of Ukraine shows that he combines the ineptitude of a George W. Bush or a Carter with the corruption of Richard Nixon.

Trump is characteristically working hardest at blaming others — China, the media, governors, President Barack Obama, the Democratic impeachment managers, everyone but his golf caddie — for his blunders. His mantra is: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” It remains to be seen whether voters will buy his excuses. But whatever happens in November, Trump cannot escape the pitiless judgment of history.

Somewhere, a relieved James Buchanan must be smiling.

Thanks to our reader Dienne for suggesting this list of musical and theatrical productions that are streaming for free.

One of them “Jesus Christ Superstar” is already unavailable, so make a note to catch the ones that are still streaming.

Veteran journalist Andrea Gabor writes that students and schools are not ready for the sudden transition to online learning.

Gabor writes:

Online instruction has arrived overnight in U.S. schools. And nobody’s ready for it.

The problem isn’t just that school systems shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic suddenly face the huge challenge of improvising home-schooling routines on an unimagined scale. Students everywhere lack access to online tools.

Many can’t afford them. And even where poverty isn’t the main barrier, few schools have developed a sophisticated digital capability. The promise of a technology revolution that would customize K-12 education to each student’s needs was sidelined early on by efforts to use technology to undermine unions, replace teachers and increase class size, alienating many educators.

Training has been spotty and has left teachers and administrators unprepared. Scandals have plagued both for-profit online K-12 schools, which consistently underperform their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and for-profit online colleges. Meanwhile, the idea that universities like Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could deliver elite instruction to the masses through the massive open online courses dubbed Moocs was undermined by media hype.

Especially for elementary and high schools, where large-scale systematic research on online learning has been sparse, the online-education experiment set off by the coronavirus offers an opportunity — one that won’t be fully realized until the crisis is over — for state and local governments to assess how educators married technology and teaching on the fly. As they invent their virtual classrooms, teachers and districts also have a unique opportunity to document what works and what doesn’t and to seize back the momentum from philanthropy-backed organizations that have sought to redefine public education.

As schools and colleges gather students in virtual meetings using Zoom or Google Classroom, one key obstacle to online education has come into sharp focus: The shortage of computer access and internet connections in high-poverty urban centers such as Miami and Los Angeles, where about 15 percent of students lack computers or internet access, and in rural areas, including vast swaths of the South.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has enough devices for only about two-thirds of K-12 classes, prompting the superintendent to ask the state for $50 million to supply the remaining students with tablets, and local internet providers for free access for L.A.-area families, about one-quarter of whom have no broadband access.

In New York City, an estimated 114,000 children live in unstable housing, including homeless shelters where WiFi is sparse. The education department is expecting to roll out 300,000 internet-enabled iPads, even as some principals emptied their laptop carts so kids could take home devices before schools closed.

Colleges also are wrestling with equity and access issues. The City University of New York initially suspended classes for one week to allow faculty to retool courses for distance learning. Another break announced last week was prompted by the need to get laptops and tablets to students who need them, and to forestall the possibility that students without technology access might drop out.

At Los Angeles community colleges, the nation’s largest community college district serving 230,000 mostly poor students, classes also have been postponed as schools scramble to purchase and distribute technology to students and faculty. Fewer than half the system’s instructors have had any training in distance learning.

Before the crisis, web-based courses and technology platforms such as Blackboard were in use on almost every U.S. college campus. College rankings are based in part on the quality of technology infrastructure and connectivity.

Less is known about the scope of technology used in K-12 schools. About 310,000 students are enrolled in virtual schools, and another 420,000 students in brick-and-mortar schools take at least one online course from state-sponsored digital programs. But there’s little research on the vast number of students who use technology in classrooms with a live teacher according to the Aurora Institute, which studies educational innovation.

A 2010 study, one of the last to focus on the impact of online education on U.S. high schools, found that while online courses were then widely used to make up for lost academic credits, the quality of these courses was iffy. Students’ lack of self-discipline and command of math and reading skills may be another obstacle. Online courses are more successful when they allow schools to provide courses they otherwise could not.

Yet an international comparison of 15-year-olds in 31 countries found that “where it is more common for students to use the internet at school for schoolwork, students’ performance in reading declined.”

Earlier online experiments, such as New York City’s Innovation Zone, launched in 2010, demonstrate both the challenges of designing engaging online education programs and why a chief benefit of technology is to expand connections among students, teachers and the outside world.

The most successful iZone schools were educator-led efforts reliant on philanthropic funding that used technology as part of a broader strategy to rethink curriculum — in particular to develop interdisciplinary projects in longer time-blocks than the traditional 50-minute class, and to use technology to reach beyond school walls. For example, at Manhattan’s NYC iSchool, one nine-week module had students work on an exhibition for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero. They began by studying the history of conflict between Islamic and Western civilizations. Students then used videoconferences to interview young people around the world about their views of the terrorist attacks.

Ultimately, the iZone expanded too rapidly and eventually unraveled — though the best schools continue to pursue innovative education strategies.

Fostering person-to-person connections using apps like Zoom and Google Classroom are especially important now. Teachers accustomed to dominating classroom discussions will find that difficult. Instead, with standardized tests suspended and test-prep pressures eased, teachers can assign independent or small-group projects using phone and video for feedback.

Tools like Google docs also “have the capacity to significantly improve teacher feedback and interaction with students,” says Nick Siewert, a consultant with Learning Matters. This is a time for educators and districts to document their education-technology experiences. After the crisis, the U.S. should finance systematic research on what worked and what didn’t, and expand its internet-funding programs.

Politico reports:

G’MORNING. THE PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS in the administration have taken their dire warnings about the coronavirus to a new level. They’ve started comparing the next two weeks to a widespread Sept. 11 or Pearl Harbor, and they’re warning against even going to the grocery store to get food and provisions.

— DR. DEBORAH BIRX, in yesterday’s briefing: “So the next two weeks are extraordinarily important, and that’s why I think you’ve heard from Dr. Fauci, from myself, from the president and the vice president, that this is the moment to do everything that you can on the presidential guidelines. This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store and not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe. That means everybody doing the six feet distancing, washing your hands.”

— SURGEON GENERAL JEROME ADAMS to CHUCK TODD on NBC’s “MEET THE PRESS”: “The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment. It’s going to be our 9/11 moment. It’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives, and we really need to understand that if we want to flatten that curve and get through to the other side, everyone needs to do their part. Ninety percent of Americans are doing their part, even in the states where, where they haven’t had a shelter in place. But if you can’t give us 30 days, governors, give us, give us a week, give us what you can, so that we don’t overwhelm our healthcare systems over this next week. And then let’s reassess at that point. We want everyone to understand you’ve got to be Rosie The Riveter you’ve got to do your part.”

— ADAMS on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: “It’s going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment. Only it’s not gonna be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country.”

Better late than never, from an administration that regularly assured us that the coronavirus was no problem, was under control, was a Democratic hoax.

Here are the states that have not ordered their citizens to stay at home and avoid gatherings: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming.

What will Trump say to the states that continue to refuse to require stay-at-home orders and that continue to allow people to congregate in bars, restaurants, churches, and other settings where the virus may be transmitted? Count on it: Nothing. The order of the day is: Do it yourself. If you want to wear a mask, that’s up to you. If you want to mingle with others who might have the disease, take your chances. We are at war but we have no commander-in-chief, and it is up to each person and family to decide whether to protect themselves and others. In ten states with Republican governors, no one is leading the fight to protect public health.

I have seen many home-made videos about the COVID-19 shutdown of large parts of society, but this one is the absolute best so far!

It’s a British family, Ben and Danielle Marsh and their four children, who live in Kent. They sing “One Day More” from “Les Miserables,” and they are hilarious!

I loved it!

Thanks to Bob Shepherd for supplying a link that works.

Jeanette Deutermann is the parent on Long Island in New York who launched “Long Island Opt Out.” It is now part of NYSAPE, New York State Parents and Educators, which has led the successful opt out movement. She read some angry posts on Facebook, with blame as the common factor. And she wrote this plea on her Facebook page, which has been widely shared:

All of our Facebook feeds are filled with posts of parents furious with teachers giving too much work, too little work, teachers furious about kids not logging on, kids sleeping in, and kids not completing the work. I want to implore everyone to keep one word in the front of their brains right now: EMPATHY. We all like to think we have empathy for others, but now is the time to prove it.

For parents: if you think a teacher is assigning too much work, just realize – some teachers are untenured with chairpeople scrutinizing each and every assignment. Some are getting nasty emails from parents demanding more work. Some just are unaware of how long it is taking students to complete their work. Communicate with them. Most teachers will respond “no problem! Just do what you can!”.
If you think a teacher isn’t assigning enough work, just realize- maybe the teacher is sick themselves. Maybe they are trying to lighten the load for the student. Maybe they have three kids of their own that they are dealing with. Maybe they are dealing with the loss of someone they love. Just today I heard of a teacher who lost both parents to the virus but has continued to work putting out assignments. Assume everyone is doing the best they can. Communicate.

Teachers: if you think a student is being lazy or not taking responsibility for not completing work, just realize – maybe the student has to help taking care of siblings. Maybe the student is sick themselves. Maybe the student is struggling with mental health issues that are now exacerbated by this issue. Maybe they are dealing with the loss of a loved one. Maybe it’s something as simple as sharing computers and devices with family members. Or maybe it’s more complicated. Are some just refusing to do work? Maybe, but most likely there is something else going on. Students that were in therapy before this started now have to have phone therapy or none at all. For some, being in school WAS their safe space. Kids that were active and on sports now have no access even to most fields to run around or exercise. For many, their home is a stressful environment. That is only going to increase tenfold now. Sleep issues are escalating for both kids and parents, so waking up early isn’t possible, reasonable, or healthy for many.

My advice to everyone: HAVE EMPATHY. No one truly knows what is happening in each other’s lives. WE’RE ALL DOING THE BEST WE CAN. Stop tearing each other down and lower your expectations. For some their best will be a full day of homeschooling, board games and a home cooked meal. For others it will be surviving the day. Both are normal, both are acceptable. Breathe, take care of each other, and realize that these are the little things. Let’s come out of this proud of how we treated each other. #crisisschooling

Joy Hakim wrote a successful American history book titled A History of Us, which was pUblished by Oxford University Press, not the big textbook corporations, because it was written as factual stories, not by a checklist. She also wrote The Story of Science, which was published by the Smithsonian, for the same reason.

When you read her books and compare them to the lifeless textbooks that students are required to read, you will understand the power of story. History and science are intrinsically fascinating. The textbooks make them dull.

Joy has started writing online lessons, also in story form, about history and science. Students will think of them as good stories, that happen to be factual.

Here are her first two lessons.

Bill Gates went on Trevor Noah’s “The Faily Show” to announce that he would fund the building of several factories to produce vaccines for the coronavirus. He expects that only two will be successful, which means he will “waste” a few billion dollars. But since he is worth about $110 billion, this is no big loss.

This is great news, given the incompetence of the Trump administration, which expects every state to take care of its own problems.

At last, Gates is spending his billions for a worthy cause!

He should definitely concentrate his charity on global health.

Thanks, Bill!

Valerie Strauss writes here about a growing exodus from the Zoom platform, which benefits Microsoft’s Teams.

She writes:

Some school districts around the country have started to ban the use of Zoom for online learning from home during the coronavirus crisis because of growing concerns about security, and others are reassessing how and whether to use the teleconferencing platform.

Days after the FBI issued a warning to the public about the “hijacking” of online classrooms and teleconferences, the New York City Department of Education, which runs the largest school district in the country, said teachers should no longer use Zoom and should instead work through Microsoft Teams.

Other school districts, too, have banned Zoom or are trying to beef up security around its use. Clark County Public Schools in Nevada said in a statement that it had decided to “disable access to Zoom out of an abundance of caution due to instances of hacking that created unsafe environments for teachers and students,” but that it was looking at options to that might allow it to resume access.

Asked about the school districts that are banning its platform, Zoom said in a statement:

We are deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack and we strongly condemn such behavior. Starting on March 20, we have been actively educating users on how they can protect their meetings and help prevent incidents of harassment through features like waiting rooms, passwords, muting controls and limiting screen sharing. We have also been offering trainings, tutorials, and webinars to help users understand their own account features and how to best use the platform. We are listening to our community of users to help us evolve our approach — for example, we recently changed the default settings for education users to enable waiting rooms by default and ensure teachers by default are the only ones who can share content in class. Finally, we encourage users to report any incidents of this kind directly to so we can take appropriate action.”

The FBI issued a warning to the public earlier this week about the “hijacking” of online classrooms and teleconferences after it received reports of disturbances by people shouting racist and threatening language and displaying hate messages. It said saboteurs were hacking into online meetings in a phenomenon now called “Zoombombing,” because Zoom has become the most popular teleconferencing choice for K-12 schools and colleges and universities during the pandemic.

Concerns about online security have been rising as most of the nation has moved to online education, with school buildings closed to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus that has stopped public life around the world. Schools have rushed to put together online lessons and programs, sometimes without strict security filters. There have been numerous reports of intruders disrupting classes and school meetings, from elementary school to higher education.

For example, University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs reported an intrusion of a student government meeting by someone who displayed racist messages, swastikas, pornography and death threats.

W. Kent Fuchs

Just reported to me that this evening UF’s Student Government meeting was Zoom Bombed with racist messages, swastikas, pornography and death threats. I condemn these horrific messages of hate. I have asked UF IT and UF PD to investigate. COVID-19 and hate will be defeated.

Why would anyone engage in such unethical behavior?

Many teachers are using the ZOOM videoconferencing tool for their online classes, but there have been numerous complaints about ZOOM classes being hacked, and intruders interfering with the class or expressing inappropriate comments.

Consequently, the New York City Department of Education is forbidding teachers from using ZOOM.

New York City has banned the video conferencing platform Zoom in city schools weeks after thousands of teachers and students began using it for remote learning.

The education department received reports of issues that impact the security and privacy of the platform during the credentialing process, according to a document shared with principals that was obtained by Chalkbeat. “Based on the DOE’s review of those documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom at this time,” the memo said.

Instead, the guidance says, schools should switch to Microsoft Teams, which the education department suggests has similar functionality and is more secure.

The change is likely to cause headaches for schools and families, as the use of Zoom became widespread after the city shuttered school buildings on March 16 and moved over a million students to remote learning a week later.

Not all schools use Zoom, though many have since the platform offers a free version and is relatively simple to set up. Last month, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy met via Zoom, a meeting that included schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and other top officials.

But the platform has also caused problems for educators and has come under fire nationally for a range of security and privacy issues.

In some cases, students have taken to “Zoombombing” online classes, essentially logging into online classes uninvited and hijacking everyone’s screens with inappropriate images or audio. “Zoombombing is no joke. I don’t think we were ready for that,” Pat Finley, a co-principal at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Queens, previously said.

Students have also sometimes flooded the platform’s chat function with inappropriate comments, disrupting virtual instruction.

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James raised concerns about the platform, including whether third parties could secretly access users’ webcams, reports that the company shares data with Facebook, and whether the company was following state requirements about safeguarding student data.