Sunday, December 06, 2020

Sense, Nonsense, and de Blasio's DOE

Things are at a new level now, yet agaon. Every time you think the DOE has outdone itself, it does something else to show you that the last thing was nothing. The NY Post reports that UFT members who don't consent to testing will be removed from payroll. That would be surprising if it weren't for the fact that this was agreed to back in September. 

While people all discuss the low incidence of COVID in schools, compared to the population at large, it's important to note that the city has not, in fact, followed its own programs for months. Not only was UFT supposed to consent to testing, but all students in buildings were supposed to consent as well.  I recall reading somewhere that so far, only 15% of students had agreed to testing.

As if that's not enough, I've heard that in my school and others, there was a quota the testers were supposed to reach in a building, and once they reached it through volunteers, they didn't bother compelling anyone. This means that many if not all results from schools resulted from self-selection. I don't have to be a statistical expert to see that isn't random. 

So now the DOE is saying publicly that it will enforce an agreement it made three months ago. But there are quite a few holes in it. Mayor de Blasio is planning to have students up to grade 5 in attendance tomorrow, but it looks like they haven't quite caught everyone.

Students in 3-K, Pre-K and Kindergarten are exempt, but others have to bring parental consent forms on Monday. Those without parental consent or a valid excuse will be moved to all-remote instruction, de Blasio said.

I'm far from expert on young children, but I'd have let my kid be tested at a young age. Perhaps doing so publicly, without the support of parents is too much and the kids could go to their own doctors. It's certainly not unheard of. We require vaccines for all students, and that's a needle in the arm, not a Q-tip in the nose. We also accept notes from doctors attesting that the children have received said vaccines. Why can't the DOE allow the same for young children? In fact, why can't they allow it for anyone? You'd have to ask one of the geniuses at Tweed who came up with this plan.

I understand that very young children have special needs, and I also understand that it's been twenty years since my kids was that young. Perhaps I'm out of touch. Adults, though, are another matter altogether. I'm told that both UFT and CSA have consented to testing. So no matter how toxic you may deem your administrators, they will be tested for COVID. Still, we're not the only ones in the school system:

It added in reference to non-UFT school workers, “Guidance regarding other staff members who do not consent will be forthcoming.” 

So what if a school aide or someone who isn't UFT or CSA doesn't feel like getting his or her nose invaded? Too bad for you, I guess. Too bad for the whole building. It's unconscionable that the chancellor and mayor have one rule for one union and another for ours. It's not simply that if I don't consent, I get sent home without pay. More importantly, we could have adults in the building spreading COVID, and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it.

In fact, last week I saw a notice that was sent to every student with an IEP, saying they could opt out of testing. I understand that some students may have disabilities that make things awkward or difficult. I also understand that there are students who have IEPs simply because they need more time for testing. I'd be willing to give them more time for COVID testing too, if they wanted it. I was glad to see that they'd moved back on this nonsense, at least a little bit:

This notwithstanding, every time I think the ineptitude of de Blasio and Carranza has crested, they do something to top themselves. The COVID crisis requires decisive action. De Blasio seems to have his finger perpetually in the wind, deciding which way it's blowing. Either that, or he's trying to see just how thoroughly he can ensure he has no future in politics.

Either way, he seems to consistently neglect the safety of everyone in school buildings. I think the things I teach are vital, and I tell my students that all the time. Nonetheless, they pale in the face of health and safety. I'd rather see my kids never learn English than put themselves in danger (and a good portion of them came here to escape danger). What this mayor's priorities are, as he waffles back and forth from one incomprehensible position to another, I have no idea. 

One of the most basic things you can demand from a leader is a vision from the future. From where I stand, Bill de Blasio has none whatsoever.

blog comments powered by Disqus