Thursday, December 03, 2020

What Parents Need Now Are Threats, Says Mayor

Given that students can't fail, don't have to hand in work, and are given an extra year to catch up on classes, it's odd to see Mayor de Blasio out there making demands of parents. The mayor is eager to get some of his woefully overcrowded schools open five days a week for the 35% of city students who've opted into live education. So he's saying if you don't show up, you lose your place.

This is very odd, to me at least. For one thing, he's suggesting these places are so prized that people can't wait to grab them. But just weeks ago he was saying that anyone who didn't sign up already has no chance to do so this year. Of course, contradictions are a way of life for this mayor. He holds press conferences and doesn't show up until hours later. He seems to be late for everything. I'm glad he isn't in my class.

Why would students miss school? Well, maybe they have coronavirus. That's a damn good reason to stay out. Maybe they're quarantining for safety. There's a good two weeks right there. Maybe someone in their family is sick. Maybe they have relatives in the hospital. I have a student in Asia right now due to a death in the family. But she comes to my virtual class every day, and that's a minor miracle.

Should the mayor, who generally bends over backwards to accommodate student needs, be out there saying screw you, you lose your place?  Given that everyone else is shut out already, who's gonna take that place? Is he taking a page from the Moskowitz Academy playbook? (Just to be fair, all Moskowitz Academy students are learning remotely right now. I'm sure their employees are as miserable as ever.)

Maybe that's not his plan. Given that this mayor second and third guesses every decision, and given that no decision he makes tends to endure very long, maybe he's trying to placate the people who objected to his sudden closure of in-person learning. After all, he'd originally promised four chances to opt in. Maybe he's once again bending to public pressure. 

Of course, this shows a lack of conviction, and a lack of faith in his own decisions. This mayor has made the flip-flop into an art form. He just agreed to open up buildings, after shutting them because of his own standard. Yet he's chosen what's probably the worst time of the year to do it. Thanksgiving has been a national super-spreader event for sure. And just in case it doesn't do the job, Christmas is coming. 

Wouldn't it have made more sense to leave the buildings closed until after the holidays, and see where the numbers were? Given rapidly upward trends, it seems likely he'll just have to turn around and close the buildings again, and soon.

We're quite lucky we haven't jumped back to the awful conditions we suffered toward the end of the last school year. For that luck to continue, we need strong leadership informed by science and probability. We haven't got that in Mayor de Blasio. From the beginning, he's been mired in absurdity. Remember when he and the chancellor were out boasting that three out of four students were coming back? It turns out to be closer than three out of ten.

Of course you wouldn't know that if you were relying on the NY Times for info. From what I read there, every student in creation wants to go back. So while Mayor de Blasio sways with whatever breeze the press blows around, the fact is that the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers have voted with their feet and want to stay remote. It's outrageous that he now threatens the few whose hind quarters he's so long been eager to kiss.

Planning is not this mayor's forte. I'm sure he has one somewhere, but I'm damned if I can tell you what it is. 

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