Archives for the month of: July, 2021

The Commack Public School District is located on Long Island in New York. The district has about 79% white students, 9% Asian, 9% Hispanic, 1% African American, and a small number of multiracial students. The Commack public schools have strong academic outcomes. 95% of their graduates go to college.

Recently the district and its school board have been under attack by parents who insist that their children are subjected to Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project. At a recent public hearing, parents listened to administrators and school board members, who assured them that the Commack schools did not teach CRT or The 1619 Project. Angry parents were not mollified, as you will see if you watch the video posted below.

Jake Jacobs, a NYC art teacher and co-administrator of the New York BATS, watched the video and wrote the following commentary.

CRT DEBATE BLOWS UP: In Commack, NY this school board forum shows how insane things have gotten. The audience comments are unhinged and mostly ignore everything the board and superintendent say. The first part of the video is just the staff going over the curriculum, explaining how they do not support CRT, but the parents already start interrupting and shouting.

The Commack board and superintendent said over and over they reject CRT and created a policy where no child feels “less than”.
Yet parents came up to the mic and accused them of lying, said CRT was “seeping in” and were convinced the state is going to impose CRT, that teachers were politically biased and only teach their side.
They pointed to board members and said they are all going to get voted out, just like they had in the neighboring district. Some parents came up gripped with anger, convinced that everything they didn’t like was indeed CRT, and that it has to be nipped in the bud before this can go any further.

Some spoke about their kids being bullied because they were conservative, or cops being negatively portrayed, they quoted MLK as not seeing skin color and they spoke about inappropriate images and themes in the book Persepolis, none of which were CRT.
Some speakers got on the mic screaming at the top of their lungs, accusing the schools of indoctrinating kids to hate, or threatened to put their kids in private school and sue for damages. One woman pointed repeatedly to the only Black trustee and said she “had something on him.”

Meanwhile, some brave Asian students got up and said they loved Persepolis, an award winning graphic novel taught in the district for 13 years. They noted it was the first time they saw themselves reflected in class readings and that the district has a severe lack of representation of diverse characters and authors. The students were constantly interrupted and badgered. One girl pointed that there were also graphic themes in Romeo and Juliet, Tale of Two Cities and To Kill a Mockingbird. A teacher who spoke in support of the students was also interrupted constantly and heckled.

One outraged NYPD officer got up and read a bullet point from the NY State Education Dept web page on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion which suggests schools cover “the senseless, brutal killing of Black and Brown men and women at the hands of law enforcement.” The Commack superintendent immediately took his side and disavowed the passage as inappropriate, promising cops would not be disparaged in the district, but the folks in the crowd wanted more.
They asked for apologies to police families, they asked for something in writing that CRT would not be taught even if the state mandates it, they wanted to know if teachers would be fired for political statements, they wanted to be notified when BLM will be mentioned in school so they can opt out. Some said schools should only be teaching math, reading, science and social studies and leave all the social-emotional and diversity stuff for parents to teach.

I don’t know if this was just a very loud minority or this is the prevailing view in this part of Long Island but these folks are 100% convinced that everything they don’t like is “CRT” and they are extremely animated, just like Christopher Rufo said. They said it is Socialism and Marxism and some got extremely emotional saying they need to hear the district will fight for their kids.

This is light years from what’s going on in NYC schools and the new Culturally Responsive framework approved by the Chancellor which centers racial, cultural and gender identity in the classroom, so this is a major clash of opposing ideas (fueled by wholesale misinformation) and it’s working really well in suburban areas to put school officials on the defensive and kids in the middle of electoral politics.

One day after he stood against removing Persepolis, the Commack English Dept Chair was removed from his position and stripped of tenure. The district also now has removed Diary of Anne Frank as well.

Click on this link to see the video:


Full video: https://boxcast.tv/view/community-forum-6-8-21-multiracial-curriculum-review-dyj9wrxcc8oqby2xtsbo?fbclid=IwAR1Tcal2N9B0V4_sFyxgkDrLbINNXyvh9u4ONssLly97-acBjNLyDgfv6DI

This one works too:

https://boxcast.tv/view/community-forum-6-8-21-multiracial-curriculum-review-dyj9wrxcc8oqby2xtsbo

Isabela Dias writes in Mother Jones about attacks on a Black social studies teacher who has been labeled a teacher of critical race theory.

In the first week of classes in August, Rodney D. Pierce, a social studies teacher at Red Oak Middle School in Battleboro, North Carolina, set the stage for his 8th graders by sharing a quote from James Baldwin: “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” Pierce told the students they were going to learn about both the “beautiful and the horrifying parts” of the state and country’s past. “We need to talk about all of it,” he explained “because that is American history.”

The fight over how to teach American history to children—a long battle that has frothed into a particularly acute moral panic today—often comes back to whose history is being discussed. For Pierce, a Black teacher of many Black students, it’s impossible to avoid racism. For years, he has spoken openly about this in the concrete and the local: the town names, the monuments to Confederates, the horrific lynchings. He has gone above his mandate of teaching to the test because the test did not include the explanations of events that led to the world his students inhabit. He was rewarded by earning social studies teacher of the year in 2019 and has been tasked with helping write the new standards for the state to make sure others follow his lead.

But lately, Pierce’s “speak my truth and be upfront about it” approach has been drawing more backlash than ever before. In the past year, parents have complained to school administrators about a perceived political slant in his work. When he repeated something former President Donald Trump said verbatim, they accused him of lying. Some claim he has insisted on talking about slavery—and that this has made students disenchanted. “They’re really reaching for anything they can get on me,” Pierce says. “I started feeling like a target.”

A gregarious 42-year-old father of three and self-described history buff, Pierce was born in Maryland, and raised in the rural eastern part of North Carolina by his maternal grandmother, a descendant of enslaved people. He remembers sitting in his grandmother’s living room in Roanoke Rapids as a child with an encyclopedia, questioning the accuracy of depictions of ancient Egyptians as white. As a student, Pierce admired the work of Black poets like Paul Laurence Dunbar. He was inquisitive, interpretive, and analytical. “His favorite word was why,” says Charlene Nicholson, his former 6th grade English language teacher and longtime mentor. “He would always think deeper.”

Pierce has been teaching social studies for six years; the past two at Red Oak. Located less than 30 miles west of Princeville, one of the first incorporatedAfrican American towns in the country, the school sits in an affluent and fairly conservative area of Nash County. Although still predominately white, Nash has shifted in the past decades. The Black population has grown. It has become more Democratic. Pierce says he still sees “Trump-Pence 2020” signs outside the Dollar General store across the street from the school. But Biden won there, even if just by 120 votes. More than 50 percent of his students are Black and 10 percent are Hispanic, which informs his teaching philosophy of “inspiration and empowerment” and challenges him as an educator and historian. As a Black teacher talking about racism and slavery in a racially diverse community, Pierce is both the object of admiration and disapproval. “The last thing I want to do is alienate a kid,” he explains. But if he ignores race, what would his Black students think happened?

“It always goes back to local history to me,” he says. As part of an assignment, Pierce asks the class to research the historical origins of the names of towns in the Tri-County area of Nash, Edgecombe, and Wilson, including Battleboro, which was initially established by Joseph Battle as a settlement along the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, the longest in the world at the time and the “lifeline of the Confederacy” during the Civil War. In another, Pierce shows students news stories about Ku Klux Klan activities in nearby Rocky Mount—from a 1966 picket line outside a dry cleaner where a Black employee refused to clean the Klan robes to a 1992 rally. In another, he talks to them about the 1970 bombing of a formerly all-Black school in reaction to imminent integration. In the fall, he plans to discuss the Black rights group Concerned Citizens of Battleboro, who led the 1994 boycott of local white-owned businesses to protest law enforcement harassment. All of it, Pierce says, is about showing students their own community is part of history and making sure they are able to see themselves within the content and the curriculum.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t want their children to be taught the truth.

Dias recounts North Carolina’s history of fighting racial equity. After the Brown decision, the strategy to keep the races segregated was school choice.

Even now, the state is trying to censor discussion of the past, because it might make some students (and their families and elected officials) feel guilt and discomfort. They don’t want to revisit the past.

Dias writes:

In May, the North Carolina House voted along partisan lines to move to the Senate the “Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools” bill prohibiting public schools from promoting concepts such as that an individual should feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish” or bear responsibility for actions from the past based on their race or sex; and opposing the characterization that the belief that the United States is a meritocracy is “inherently racist or sexist.” In support of the legislation, the Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt vouched to eradicate CRT from classrooms, saying, “There is no room for divisive rhetoric that condones preferential treatment of any one group over another.” Democratic Rep. James Gailliard of Nash County called it a “don’t-hurt-my-feelings bill” that reproduces “discrimination, fanaticism, bigotry….”

There is no more glaring example of North Carolina’s ability to deliberately bury its history than the education of the Wilmington Coup. In November 1898, a mob of heavily armed white supremacists overthrew the Fusionist city government, burned down the local Black newspaper’s office, and killed and banished dozens of people. The port city, before then, was a symbol of Black achievement and hope. For years, the coup has been considered “lost history,” despite its importance in cementing “white rule for another century” in North Carolina. The current social studies standards, which outline learning goals for K-12 students, do not include it. Instead, it is ultimately up to school districts to determine what goes in the curriculum and to educators like Pierce, who wasn’t introduced to it until he was in college, to teach it.

“That kind of history is important particularly for African Americans because it lets us know there was a time when racial and domestic terror were waged on us and the state didn’t want us to know about it,” he says, pointing to a special commission established in the mid-2000s to finally set the record straight.

But please don’t tell the students.

James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, tweeted that today is the anniversary of the certification of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

https://twitter.com/JimGrossmanAHA/status/1420396715723603972

On this date in 1868 Secretary if State William Seward officially certified the ratification of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. Every American should read this text today. #EverythinghasaHistory constitutioncenter.org/interactive-co…

He suggests that today would be a good day to read the 14th Amendment, which guarantees full citizenship to all citizens born or naturalized in the United States.

In particular, read Section 2:

Section 2

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

If the Supreme Court rereads Section 2, it will strike down any state laws that abridge the right to vote, especially when those laws were designed to suppress the Black vote.

Much has changed since the 14th Amendment was written. Women and Indians have the right to vote, and the voting age has been lowered to 18.

But what has not changed is that it is unconstitutional to abridge the right to vote.

I previously posted the decision by the Boston School Committee to change the requirements for admission to its elite examination schools. What I didn’t know was that there was a minority report from the school committee’s Task Force that was voted down.

Since then, I learned that there was a minority report by two Task Force members who offered a different approach (actually there were two minority reports). Rosann Tung and Simon Chernow wrote a dissent, printed here in part:

…By dissenting, Simon and I urge Boston Public Schools to go further and faster. BPS will not achieve justice until we eliminate the structures that uphold White supremacy and capitalism — structures like the tracking that is the accelerated grades 4–6 Advanced Work program in some schools and like the three tiers that our high schools still represent (exam, application, and open enrollment). Permanent ranking and sorting are a major root cause of the fact that 40 percent of our schools require assistance or intervention for poor outcomes. Many scholars have shown that children who attend truly diverse schools benefit both academically and socio-emotionally. The segregation of students by race, socioeconomic status, learning style, language, and special needs leads to our most vulnerable students receiving inadequate resources and support.

Another structure that upholds power and privilege is standardized testing. Every standardized test ever created shows group mean differences, because standardized tests measure more than just academic content; in fact, they cement unequal opportunities.

An oft-leveled critique has been that the human, financial, and political capital poured into this admissions process is misguided and should be put into improving the other 120-plus BPS schools. Actually, we believe that when the admissions of the three schools become test-blind and lottery-based, and when all of the students who test well attend more than just three schools, system-wide improvement will accelerate…

Jeremy Mohler of the nonpartisan “In the Public Interest,” the leading voice against privatization of the public sector, notes that billionaire Jeff Bezos made into space sixty years after the public-funded NASA.

He writes:

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said the quiet part loud on Tuesday after flying to space in his own rocket:

“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”

He was right. Subjecting warehouse workers and delivery drivers to grueling conditions—even all but forcing them to pee in bottles instead of take bathroom breaks—has made Bezos the world’s richest person

This is why we need a much, much fairer tax system.

One that doesn’t allow corporations like Amazon to get away with paying less in taxes than teachers, nurses, and even Amazon workers themselves. Bezos himself paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011

One that doesn’t shell out massive subsidies to corporations like Amazon, while our communities get little in return. Bezos’s rocket company, Blue Origin, has received more than $72 million in state and local subsidies.

If it was fairer, our government could afford to make people’s lives better here, you know, on Earth. By doing things like Raleigh, North Carolina, just did when it extended free public bus fares through the rest of the year. And like Washington, D.C., just did when it raised taxes on the rich to fund housing vouchers, subsidies for day-care workers’ wages, and monthly tax credits for low-income families.

Paul Waldman is on the staff of the Washington Post. In this excerpt of his column, he says that Trump zealots will refuse to believe what the police officers said about the events of January 6. Nor will Trump devotees in the Congress be moved. The police officers saved their lives on that day, but they won’t heed what they testified. The Republican members of Congress were there as rioters plundered the U.S. Capitol and threatened the lives of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. Only a thin blue line separated the mob and the esteemed members of Congress, who were only a few feet apart as they scurried to their hiding places. Yet still they say things like, “It was a normal tourist crowd,” or “it was a peaceful protest.” And they have response when Trump expresses his admiration and love for the mob that beat up police officers, shattered windows, and broke down doors in their absurd effort to reverse the election results.

Waldman writes:

There are people who believe that the moon landing never happened, that the astronauts in the footage all the world saw were actually bouncing around on a soundstage hidden away somewhere. But they aren’t making our laws, they aren’t invited on TV to discuss their perspective, and they don’t have the ability to influence millions.


Yet there are people who deny the truth of what happened in Washington on Jan. 6, despite all the video, all the contemporaneous reports, all the guilty pleas, and all the testimony. And they have a lot more power.


Tuesday’s first hearing of the select House committee investigating the insurrection, with vivid testimony from four police officers who stood against a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters overrunning the Capitol in an attempt to overturn a presidential election, should put at least some questions about that day to rest.

Still recovering from their physical and mental injuries, the officers seemed particularly incensed that the truth of what happened that day is denied by so many on the right, from Trump himself on down.
“To me, it’s insulting, just demoralizing because of everything that we did to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt,” said Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell about the effort to minimize what happened that day, including by Trump. (“It was a loving crowd,” the former president told Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, “There was a lot of love. I’ve heard that from everybody.”)

Gonnell also addressed the various conspiracy theories propagated by some very high-profile figures on the right, claiming that the insurrection might have been a false-flag operation. “It was not antifa,” he said. “It was not Black Lives Matter. It was not the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent them over to the Capitol that day.”
“The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” said D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, slamming his fist on the table. “Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day.”

That denial takes various forms. Some, like Trump, assert that the riot was no big deal (“By and large it was peaceful protest,” said Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin). Others say that, while it was certainly bad, it doesn’t have anything to do with any larger political forces and should be put behind us.

But the truth is that there was nothing isolated about the event. Those rioters came to Washington at Trump’s behest. They assaulted the seat of our government in an effort to prevent the final certification of an American presidential election. And to this day, most of the GOP continues to stoke the fires of racial resentment and contempt for the democracy that made it possible.

One of the few exceptions in the Republican Party, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) dispatched the bad-faith argument so many in his party made that any investigation of Jan. 6 should also spend time talking about protests last summer against police misconduct, during which violence broke out:

“Some have concocted a counternarrative to discredit this process on the grounds that we didn’t launch a similar investigation into the urban riots and looting last summer. Mr. Chairman, I was called on to serve during the summer riots as an Air National Guardsman. I condemn those riots and the destruction of property that resulted. But not once did I ever feel that the future of self-governance was threatened like I did on January 6. There is a difference between breaking the law and rejecting the rule of law, between a crime, even grave crimes, and a coup.


That is the heart of what made January 6 so threatening: Not just the physical violence, but the assault on the American system.

The hearings about the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol opened with testimony by four police officers who were beaten and brutalized by the pro-Trump mob, trying to stop the certification of the election of President Biden.

This story appeared in USA Today.

The officers’ accounts provided a dramatic opening for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, when Trump’s fanatical supporters tried to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

“Here are highlights from their testimony.

“Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell

“An Army veteran, Gonell said his experience during the insurrection was more terrifying than serving in Iraq, where he had to conduct supply missions on roads laced with improvised explosive devices.

“Nothing in my experience in the Army or as a law enforcement officer prepared me for what we confronted on Jan. 6,” he told the panel, recounting hand-to-hand combat with the rioters that likened to a “medieval” battle.

“I did not recognize my fellow citizens,” Gonell said. One rioter, he said, “shouted that I —an Army veteran and a police officer — should be executed.”

“As he and his fellow officers were punched, kicked and sprayed with chemicals, “I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, ‘This is how I’m going to die’,” Gonell said.

“Six months after the riot, Gonell said he is still recovering from injuries.”

DC Metro officer Michael Fanone

Fanone, who nearly died on Jan. 6, has emerged as one of the most outspoken enforcement officials in the wake of the Capitol riot, during which he was beaten unconscious and suffered a heart attack.

In the months since Jan. 6, he has lobbied Congress to create a bipartisan, independent commission to probe the riot and lashed Republicans for downplaying the attack.

At Tuesday’s hearing, he moved into the spotlight once again.

“As I was swarmed by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge, they grabbed and stripped me of my radio, they seized a munition that was secured to my body,” Fanone recalled. “They began to beat me with their fists and what felt like hard metal objects.”

At one point during the riot, Fanone was pulled from a line of police by a rioter who shouted “I got one!”

As he was beaten, he heard a rioter shout to “Get his gun! Kill him with his own weapon.”

” … I was electrocuted again and again and again with a taser. I’m sure I was screaming but I don’t think I could even hear my own voice,” he recounted.

“I have kids,” he responded in a plea for his life.

“I still hear those words in my head today,” Fanone told lawmakers.

An unconscious Fanone was later driven by another injured officer to a nearby hospital, where he was told he suffered a heart attack and multiple life-threatening injuries. He now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I thought I had seen it all, many times over,” Fanone said. “Yet what I witnessed and experience on Jan. 6, 2021, was unlike anything I had ever seen, anything I had ever experienced or could have imagined in my country.”

U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn recounted how pro-Trump protestors continued to swell at the side of the Capitol all morning on Jan. 6 before becoming violent after thousands had assembled.

Rioters chanted “Stop the steal!,” clinging to the false claim that Trump was still the true elected leader of the country. When Dunn said that he’d voted for Biden and inquired if his vote didn’t matter, the already hostile crowd became irate.

“One woman in a pink ‘MAGA’ shirt yelled, “You hear that, guys, this (N-word) voted for Joe Biden!” he remembered.

“No one had ever called me a (N-word) while wearing my Capitol Police uniform,” Dunn testified.

Dunn also recounted how the aftermath of the day had been a “blur” to him. At one point he broke down in despair in the Capitol rotunda and asked how the attack was even possible, he said.

In the months since the attack, Dunn has said he’s been in support groups for his mental health to deal with the trauma of the attack, declaring that “there’s absolutely nothing wrong” with seeking help. Two Capitol police officers have died by suicide in the months since the attack.

Dunn also directly addressed the rioters and insurrectionists who were at the Capitol that day, saying “democracy went on that night and still continues to this day… you all tried to disrupt democracy, and you all failed.”

DC Metro Police officer Daniel Hodges

Hodges said rioters bashed his head, kicked him in the chest, and sprayed him with a chemical irritant during the riot, among other assaults.

One attacker told him he would “die on your knees.”

During one scuffle, a rioter tried to take Hodges’ baton and another kicked him in the chest and moved his mask over his eyes, leaving him temporarily blind while under attack.

While at his post as rioters began to assemble, he saw people in the crowd in tactical gear, wearing ballistic vests, helmets and goggles, appearing “to be prepared for much more than listening to politicians speak at a park,” he recalled.

“Terrorists were breaking apart the middle fencing and bike racks and the individual pieces, presumably to use weapons,” Hodges told the committee.

In the haze, Hodges said he remembers seeing the “thin blue line flag, a symbol of support for law enforcement” being carried by the rioters who then attacked the very officers they claimed to support. Hodges was told he was “on the wrong team” by one of the attackers.

As he was being gassed and having his head smashed, Hodges recounted screaming for help until fellow officers were able to save him from the attackers.

Everyone knows how to end the pandemic: mandate vaccinations for everyone over the age of 2. When vaccines are available for children under 2, vaccinate them too. Almost everyone is vaccinated against other infectious diseases, like smallpox, mumps, and measles. Many schools will not admit new students who are unvaccinated. Why make an exception for the deadly coronavirus?

But for purely political reasons, this will not happen. Libertarians, Trumpers, and others will refuse to be vaccinated, insisting that the government can’t force them to protect themselves and the lives of their families, friends, and communities. Conspiracy theorists would spin crazy ideas about secret plots, and those opposed would go to court to prevent being vaccinated involuntarily.

And this resistance to life-saving vaccines will make it impossible to end the pandemic. At this point, most new cases and deaths occur among the unvaccinated. The anti-vaxxers will not accept direction. And they might be convinced if members of their families die. But there are ways to persuade them, like barring them from public transportation, federal jobs, and federal benefits

NYC Mayor De Blasio just approved a regulation requiring all 300,000 municipal workers, including teachers and police, to be vaccinated or to take a weekly test to prove they are not infected. WhY not require them all to be vaccinated?

Dr. Leana Wen wrote this opinion article for the Washington Post. She is a public health specialist.

With coronavirus infections climbing throughout the country and the pandemic worsening once more, the Biden administration needs to strongly urge a return of covid-19 restrictions.

The United States is on a very different trajectory now than it was back in May, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks. Even then, when cases were trending downward, many of us in public health were alarmed that the CDC’s recommendations would herald the precipitous and premature end of indoor mask mandates.

We were right. The CDC’s honor system didn’t work. The unvaccinated took off their masks, too; not enough people were vaccinated to be a backstop against further surges; and infections began to soar.

Compared with two weeks ago, daily coronavirus infections in the United States have climbed 145 percent. The most contagious form of SARS-CoV-2 yet, the delta variant, accounts for the majority of new infections. Vaccinated people are still well-protected from becoming severely ill, but reports abound of breakthrough infections. Because the CDC has inexplicably stopped tracking mild infections among the vaccinated, however, we don’t know how frequently these occur. In addition, because those infected with the delta variant appear to have a viral load that’s 1,000 times higher than that of those infected with the original strains, it’s an open question as to whether vaccinated people who contract the variant can infect their unvaccinated close contacts.

It’s time for the CDC to issue new guidance that takes into account these emerging concerns. It can reiterate that vaccination is safe and effective by stating that the vaccinated are safe around others who are also fully vaccinated. In settings where everyone is known to have immunity, no additional restrictions are needed.

However, if vaccinated individuals are around those who remain unvaccinated, the unvaccinated could pose a risk to the vaccinated, particularly those who live at home with young children or immunocompromised family members. So the CDC needs to state, as it should have in May, that unless there is a way to distinguish between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, indoor mask requirements should be reinstated. Los Angeles County has issued such a mandate. The federal government should urge other jurisdictions to follow suit.

This is particularly urgent in areas with escalating outbreaks. Covid-19 hospitalizations in southwest Missouri have already surpassed the winter peak there. Multiple hospitals in Arkansas are full, with doctors treating younger, and sicker, patients, including tweens. In these low-vaccination areas, the pre-vaccine tools of masks, distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings need to be deployed again to stem the surge.

Unfortunately, the areas with the lowest vaccination rates are also the ones least likely to implement mask mandates. Still, leadership from the Biden administration can make a difference. There are many businesses and local jurisdictions that look to the federal government for direction. Those that dropped mask mandates after the CDC’s change in tone could be convinced to reinstitute them.

The federal government could also use this opportunity to — finally — incentivize vaccination. It could say that areas with high vaccine uptake do not need to reimplement mask mandates, and mandate vaccination on planes and trains and in federal buildings. And it can finally get behind a vaccine verification system that would allow restaurants, gyms, workplaces and universities to create safe, maskless environments where everyone is vaccinated.

Lack of strong federal leadership impedes the ability of local jurisdictions to implement policies that protect their residents. In Los Angeles County, the sheriff stated that he would not enforce the new mask mandate, calling the order “not backed by science” because it conflicted with the CDC guidelines. This is a clear demonstration of how local health departments rely on the political cover provided by the CDC to enact unpopular but necessary actions.

A more cautious approach from the CDC would also realign the entity with leading health-care organizations. On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new recommendations for schools that emphasized universal masking for everyone 2 and older. Notably, and in direct contradiction to the CDC, it stated that even vaccinated individuals should be masked in the classroom. These pediatricians recognize the reality on the ground: Without proof of vaccination, the unvaccinated have been behaving as if they were vaccinated, which has disincentivized them from getting inoculated and contributed to the surges we are now seeing.

The Biden administration has done many things right during the pandemic, but it made a grave error with its premature return to normalcy. It must hit reset and issue new guidance that addresses the escalating infections, waning interest in vaccination and unknowns of the delta variant. If it doesn’t, we could well be on our way to another national surge — and one that was entirely foreseen and entirely preventable.

Peter Greene has written a powerful case against the argument of the school choice lobby, who insist that children should choose a school that affirms their parents’ values. The choice lobby says that it causes conflict when students go to school with others who don’t share their worldview and challenge their beliefs.

Greene refutes this assertion:

The argument here, pushed daily on Twitter by Cato’s Neal McClusky, is that “public schools leave people no choice but to be at each others’ throats” and that the system leaves no choice but to either ban or impose policies and ideas. Therefor, the argument goes, school choice offers a chance to make all the conflict go away. Folks over here can choose a school that actively pursues diversity and anti-racists policies, while folks over here can choose a school that actively blocks such policies. Allowing diverse school approaches will, the argument goes, somehow reduce the conflicts currently tearing at the social fabric of our country

So first we get a school that separates from the original public district so that it can keep out all sorts of diversity and anti-racist programs. But then that school splits over a conflict about whether or not to teach creationism. Then the creationism school splits over an argument about which books to ban from the school library, and then that school splits over policies regarding LGBTQ+ students. The continued spinning off of entities based on new policy disputes will be familiar to anyone who knows the Protestant church. Meanwhile, many parents will factor in location and student body demographics for their decisions, and of the many schools spun off to “settle” the various disputes, half will fold because they don’t make enough money. 

In the end, “Well, if they don’t like that policy, they’ll be able to choose a school with which they agree,” will turn out to be a false promise.

Some choices are not healthy.

We have seen the use of school choice to avoid conflict before. After Brown v. Board of Education, lots of folks decided they had a problem sending their white children to school with Black students, and they “solved” that conflict by creating schools that let them choose segregation. When it comes to the current CRT panic, there may well be some schools that have gone a step too far with their anti-racist work (though–plot twist–those schools keep turning out to be not public ones). But an awful lot of the panic is fueled by folks opportunistically whipping up some good old-fashioned white outrage over encroaching Blackness, and we’ve been here before.

Some choices are not good for the country. We do not benefit from having a bunch of white kids taught that slavery wasn’t so bad and the Civil War was just about state’s rights. We do not benefit from having students taught that science isn’t real. We do not benefit from having students taught that Trump is really still President and 1/6 was just some unruly tourists. And we so very much don’t benefit as a society from schools that segregate both students and content based on race. Not all possible choices should be available. 

Bubbles do not banish conflict.

I agree with the part of the premise that says, more or less, “Holy crap, but we are spending a lot of time arguing bitterly and separating ourselves into chasm-separated camps!” What I don’t get, at all, is how separating the children of these warring factions into their own separate education bubbles is going to help. How will having been immersed in nothing but the particular view of their parents’ camp prepare them to be workers, neighbors, and citizens in a society where other people with other views exist. 

Upon graduation, will they proceed to a college or trade school that is also designed to strictly fit with their parents’ beliefs? And then will they search, diploma in hand. for employers who also embrace only the world view that these well-bubbled citizens have been taught is the One True View? 

How does growing up in a bubble prepare you for life outside it–particularly if your bubble teaches things that are neither nuanced or accurate views. 

Greene has much more to say about why it’s wrong and unhealthy for society to encourage growing up in a bubble, where the only people you meet agree with you.

Open the link. Read on.

Wagma Mommandi and Kevin Welner write in The Progressive about the ways that charter schools select and remove students. These practices are not permitted in real public schools.

Some make it difficult to apply, like the charter in Philadelphia that required parents to travel to a private golf club in the suburbs to seek admission. Or the charter school that sent recruitment letters, but not to the zip codes with the highest number of black and brown families.

Some charters have rules so strict (“no excuses”) that it is easy to suspend students repeatedly to get rid of them

Are charter schools “public schools,” as their advocates claim? Many are not.