Miguel Cardona, Who Are You?

President Joe Biden has nominated Miguel Cardona, the current Connecticut Commissioner of Education, to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education. Anyone he nominated would be better than Trump’s Secretary of Education. But who is Miguel Cardona and what is the vision that he brings to the U.S. Department of Education and to the teaching and learning in all of the schools in this nation? 

When I ask Connecticut teachers about Miguel Cardona, those who know him or have worked with him say that he is really nice guy who knows what the challenges in our classrooms are, knows how to help teachers to improve their teaching, and respects public schools. All good.

The majority of Connecticut teachers who don’t know him personally say that he has been largely quiet as Commissioner and are critical that he seems more interested in keeping schools open than in caring about public health, including the welfare of teachers, students and students’ families during the pandemic. 

But what is his vision for teaching and learning that he will bring to the U.S. Department of Education? When appointed Commissioner of Education in Connecticut 19 months ago, he stated that his goals would be to:

  1. Make a positive impact on graduation rates.
  2. Close the achievement gap.
  3. Ensure that all students have increased access to opportunities and advantages that they need to succeed in life.

It is reasonable to assume that the goals he had for Connecticut 19 months ago will be goals that he will now bring to the country. Those goals, however, are “old hat” and don’t have a record of being successfully accomplished.

The goals themselves are worthy ones, but they need a new interpretation which would give rise to a dramatically new vision and radical new actions. The questions are: What would that new vision and new actions look like? And is Dr. Cardona open to that vision and those actions?

New Vision for Increasing Graduation Rate

The first step in reinterpreting those goals would be to change the term “graduation rate” to something like the graduating of well-educated high school students. Currently, graduation rates make good headlines but can mean very little in terms of student learning.

Increasing the number of students graduating is now often accomplished through something called “credit retrieval”.  “Credit retrieval” allows students to make use of often dubious computer programs that, in no way, equal courses in academic subjects, yet the students get credit for the academic courses. In doing so, students increase the graduation rate for their schools but do not have adequate learning experiences.

Charter schools have another way to increase their graduation rates. They “counsel out” students who are likely to not graduate before the students get to be seniors which leaves only a pre-selected group as seniors and, unsurprisingly, they all graduate. And, lo and behold, the charter school has a high graduation rate. For example, one year at Achievement First’s Amistad Academy in New Haven, Connecticut, 25 students out of 25 students in the senior class graduated, but 64 students had been in that class as ninth graders.

With a new vision, a way to count the students who receive a high school education is to not count the number of students who receive diplomas but rather count how many of the students who begin as ninth graders complete the coursework necessary for graduation. For example, some innovative public high schools hold Saturday classes with actual teachers instead of plugging kids into computer programs. The applause should be given to high schools who deliver a quality education to all the students who begin their high school education in the school not to the schools who either give credits without the academic content and skills or who dismiss those who won’t make for a good statistic. 

With a new vision, the statistic to calculate is to follow up on the students six years after their high school graduation to see how many are employed and/or have graduated from college. Then we can know how successful their high school education was and how meaningful it was that they graduated from their high school. Increasing graduation rates, as it has been addressed in the past, gets us nowhere.

New Vision for Closing the Achievement Gap

Increasing the achievement gap is a hackneyed expression that needs a new vision. That vision begins with redefining “achievement” and redefining “gap”.  Achievement, since the publication on A Nation at Risk, has meant the attainment of good standardized test scores. 

Standardized test scores are always correlated with the income of the parents of the students taking the test. The test scores tell us nothing about the quality of the teaching and learning in the school. We can raise test scores most efficiently by getting wealthier kids into the school.

The other way to raise those scores is to teach to the test. All commercial test prep courses and online free test prep courses claim that taking those prep courses will improve test scores. And they do. They do because standardized tests measure only one skill: the ability to take a standardized test. But that is not achievement.

A new vision for learning in the 21st century can mean that students are engaged learners who are able to think critically, problem solve, collaborate with others, demonstrate initiative, speak and write effectively, access and analyze information, explore their own questions, and use their imagination as described in The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner of Harvard University. No standardized test has ever, or can ever, measure those skills.

The goal of “closing the achievement gap”, based on standardized test scores, will serve only to highlight the disparity between the affluent and the poor. Even more importantly, the goal of “closing the achievement gap”, as measured by standardized test scores, guarantees that the students who most need a quality education will be relegated to test prep in a school’s efforts to raise its standardized test scores and will continue to suffer from their lack of real teaching and real learning long after they leave our schools.

As for the “gap”, the gap that we should be addressing is not the gap between the standardized test scores of the kids in affluent towns with the standardized test scores of the kids in struggling cities, but the gap between what all kids can do before we teach them with what they can do after we teach them. We should be working our brains full-time exploring how to help each student to reach further, to know more, to try harder, and to accomplish what that student never thought possible. That’s the gap our schools should be closing: the gap between students’ current assumptions about their possibilities as thinkers and learners and their eventual accomplishments. That is a goal with a vision that is worthy of our energy and investment.

That goal can be measured by high quality, teacher-created, and externally-validated performance tasks and can never be assessed by standardized tests.

A New Vision for Creating Equity

And what are those “opportunities and advantages that children need to succeed in life”? We know exactly what they are because they are the opportunities and advantages of many of the students in our affluent, largely white schools. They are the opportunities and advantages denied to other students due to poverty and racism. The new Secretary of Education could take on these underlying problems of poverty and racism that affect children for every minute they are in school and which any school cannot prevail against without appropriate funding, personnel, academic resources, and social services. Looking at the big picture of poverty and racism with its complex causes beyond the classrooms will take vision and strong political action. It will switch the narrative from one of “failing public schools” to one of how can we adults and taxpayers not fail our public schools.

Miguel Cardona

So where is Miguel Cardona with this proposal to rethink his goals and implement the vision and actions suggested here? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will send this post to my two senators and hope that they ask him during his confirmation hearing.  I suggest you do the same with your two senators. We, as a nation, so desperately need a new interpretation of old goals and a new vision and a new plan of action for our schools. Only then can our schools be all that they are meant to be. Only then can our children be all that we know they can be.

Letter from a Teacher to the Incoming Secretary of Education

A highly respected Connecticut teacher has written an open letter to Miquel Cardona, President-elect Biden’s choice for Secretary of Education, and hopes that the letter is the beginning of a state-wide effort to send a petition to Dr. Cardona about improving the teaching and learning in the nation’s schools. Here is that letter:

Dear Commissioner Cardona:

Connecticut is proud that you, our Commissioner of Education, was chosen as the Biden/Harris administration’s Secretary of Education.

Educators support your dedication to: increasing graduation rates, closing the achievement gap, and ensuring equity for all students. All educators should be committed to making these goals a reality. America’s children need and deserve this. 

However, educators also know that the regime of profit-driven standardized testing will not improve teaching and learning. They never have.

  • If educators are forced to teach to a test in order to increase graduation rates, students are merely learning how to take a test. This is antithetical to what 21st-century learning should look like: problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, project-based learning, capstone projects, creativity, and more. 
  • If schools are pressured to close the achievement gap, but their only tools are computer programs that hold students hostage to rote “learning”, then students are not experiencing rich and meaningful learning. Only 21st-century learning experiences will increase graduation rates that are credible and that actually prepare students for a growingly complex world.
  • If equity means giving students in impoverished areas less rich and meaningful learning, by continuing the standardized testing regime, the equity gap will only increase. What students in impoverished areas need is much more of what students in more affluent areas already have. Connecticut’s discriminatory per-pupil expenditure disparity tells the whole, sad story. 

Dr. Cardona, what holds schools back from making meaningful progress are ill-conceived federal mandates. These mandates have never improved the quality of teaching and learning. They never will. Test scores may have increased. As well as graduation rates. However, those are meaningless if they are not products of rich and meaningful teaching and learning. 

No standardized test can measure 21st-century skills. Hence, standardized tests cannot cultivate the acquisition of those skills.

We ask you, Dr. Cardona, to recommit yourself to the vital goals you have set by shifting the paradigm. Shift how we achieve those goals. That requires ending the testing regime started with George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (2002 – 2015) and continued with Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” (2012 – 2016).

We, Dr. Cardona, are asking Connecticut’s teachers, parents, and students to send a strong message to you by refusing the standardized testing planned for this spring.  

We are also asking all who oppose the standardized-testing regime to sign this petition, which will be delivered to you, Dr. Cardona.

We are all trying to survive a global pandemic. In my 25 years in the classroom, I have never seen my students so stressed, depressed, and anxious. It is unnecessary and insensitive to add to the weight of their mental health struggles by adding the stress of standardized testing. Also, when thousands of stressed, depressed, and anxious students are forced to take a standardized test, will the results be accurate? Were they ever really accurate? Able to capture what students know and can do? Teachers know the answer: No!

Now is the time to end standardized testing

#RefuseTheTest 

#DoNotTakeTestingToDC. 

A faithful teacher,

Jeannette C. Faber – MS, MALS, EdD

Close Connecticut’s Schools Now

Stephen Singer, a teacher, calls on Connecticut to close its schools to save the lives of teachers and to keep students and their families safe.

Hundreds of teachers have died from Covid-19.
More than 1 million children have been diagnosed with the disease.
Yet a bipartisan group of seven state Governors said in a joint statement Thursday that in-person schools are safe even when community transmission rates are high.
Safe – despite hundreds of preventable deaths of school employees.
Safe – despite mass outbreaks among students.
Safe – despite quarantines, staffing shortages, longterm illnesses and mounting uncertainty about the longterm effects of the disease on children and adults.
State Governors must have a different definition of safety than the rest of us.
The message was signed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Delaware Governor John Carney, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
Only Baker is a Republican. The rest are all Democrats.
We expect such blatant untruth from the Trump administration, and Vice-President Mike Pence was quick to add his voice to the septet.
But the facts remain.
More than 300 teachers and other school employees have died across the country from the virus, according to the Associated Press.
In fact, 72 school employees died of the virus in New York City, alone, according to the city Department of Education.
More than 1 million children have been diagnosed with Covid-19 according to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics released Monday.
More than 250,000 people have died nationwide.
More than 11 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease at an ever increasing rate. One million of those cases came about over just six days last week.
In many states like Pennsylvania, hospitalizations have passed their peak in April.
That is not safety.
And it is beyond reckless that these Governors would make such a counterfactual statement.
FACT: It is NOT safe to have in-person schooling in any community where infections are high.
FACT: It is BETTER to have remote education unless the virus has been contained.
But these are inconvenient truths that business leaders, politicians and policymakers are doing everything in their power to ignore.

Plan for Connecticut Schools: Do Not Reopen This Fall

The plan for opening Connecticut schools this fall is not a plan. It is an abdication of responsibility.

No 6′ distancing in classrooms required. No 6′ distancing on school buses required. No Covid -19 testing required. No funds for increased sanitizing of schools allocated. No added funds for on-site health care allocated.

Business as usual. But a pandemic is not usual.

This abdication of responsibility will put all of the people in those school buildings at tremendous risk: students, teachers, custodial staff, and administrators. And it will put the families they go home to at the end of the school day at added risk. And it will put all those with whom the family members come in contact with at their workplaces at added risk. It is an abdication of responsibility not only to the children of Connecticut but to all the citizens of Connecticut.

What to do instead?

Learning via computers should be the preferred delivery system, except when young children would be at home without the presence of adults. Of course, it’s not as good for kids as being in school as they were in the past. But the past is not the present. The present is a global pandemic.

Accepting the reality of the global pandemic changes everything.

All students in Grades 8-12 can learn remotely via computers. All K-Grade 7 students who have adult supervision can also learn remotely via computers.

The K-Grade 7 students who do not have an adult at home should be accommodated in schools. The schools would have adequate medical staff to test the faculty and staff so that the health of the adults working in the schools is assessed on a daily basis, and the children have their temperatures taken and recorded daily. It would be a controlled environment with public health as the priority. All students and faculty would wear masks and the 6′ distancing  would be strictly enforced for this group of students so that they would have some of the safety measures that their peers at home, learning remotely, have.

The less affluent communities in Connecticut would never have the funds to put the unrequired elements of masks and massive sanitizing of the schools in place and would never have the funds to hire enough teachers for classrooms to have fewer students so that the 6′ distance between students could be maintained.

If the wealthier Connecticut school districts do find the funds to put public health measures in place, the education in the schools will look a lot like remote learning: kids sitting 6’ apart, masked, staying in the same seat all day, facing straight ahead looking at the masked teacher who will be presenting information to them. No discussion groups, no interactive science labs, no music classes, no art classes, no gym classes, no socialization in the cafeteria or walking through the halls.

The American Association of Pediatricians’ statement that children should  go back to school in order to further their social development is meaningless because the public health requirements of a 6′ perimeter around each student would prohibit any social interaction between students. In fact, prohibiting social interaction is exactly the point of the 6′ rule. There can be much more social interaction in a Zoom discussion group or a group project than in a classroom with masked students sitting 6′ apart from one another.

An in-house CDC memo surfaced recently. It stated that the surest way to insure another wave of the pandemic with its increase in illnesses and deaths would be to re-open schools this fall. Schools must remain closed so that your children and all of our citizens are protected.

The one lesson that all of our students need to learn in the coming semester is this: We love you. Because we love you, our priority is to keep you safe.

If the decision is made today that students will remain home or in designated safe schools for the fall semester, teachers can. spend the next month planning how to make distance learning classes into ones that are interactive and collaborative.

We will do our best for all of Connecticut’s children by NOT reopening school buildings in the fall. Learning will still happen. Illnesses and deaths will not increase. And, along with reading, writing, and arithmetic, students will learn what social responsibility in a pandemic means. They will learn how to grow into good, kind, wise adults by watching us care for them.

May 20th: Stay Home

Saud Anwar, a Connecticut State Senator and a physician who, as a leading pulmonologist, treats patients with COVID-19 says it’s too early for Connecticut to reopen businesses because it threatens public health. He and other Democratic senators wrote a letter to the Governor opposing the May 20th opening.

The Governor says he is going to follow the advice of his task force and reopen anyway. The physician on that task force is Ezekiel Emanuel who has written that life after age 75 is not worth preserving and that, when he is 75, he’ll no longer have a flu shot or take a prescribed antibiotic because he dismisses the worth of a life after 75.

To whom do you trust the lives of our most vulnerable population? A caring and knowledgeable pulmonologist or a member of the task force who dismisses the value of the lives most at risk?

No one claims that the pandemic is over or that the virus has gone away. The dangers are the same this week as they were last week or last month. The need for caution is the same this week as last week or last month.

The solution is for each of us to make a personal decision to not reopen. Let your hair grow long. Keep making boring meals at home. Wear last year’s clothes. Keep talking to your friends on zoom instead of in person. Meet with your book group, your church, your synagogue, or your mosque online. Tough it out.

Lives are worth saving. Lives of all ages.

Stay home.

The song says: We’re called to stay home.y

Schools must remain closed in order to preserve the lives of Americans. We must find new ways to BE SCHOOL and educate our young differently. The danger of the pandemic calls for it as does our deepest responsibility as citizens. So, too, we must not gather to worship. We must find way to BE CHURCH or BE SYNAGOGUE or BE MOSQUE and pastorally care for one another in new ways other than in group gatherings.
David Haas, a noted composer of liturgical music, writes about his opposition to plans announced by Catholic dioceses to now “open up” group gatherings for Mass. I join him in his opposition to that reckless and morally repugnant action. Let us, instead, listen to  a song written by David Haas and performed by Chris Brunelle.  Then let us become the kind of communities sung about: communities of justice and love. 
No photo description available.

 

 David Haas writes:

Not to cause a storm … well, maybe I am … but I have to say, honestly, that I am perhaps one of the few who are in dissent in response to the decisions being made to open up our churches for liturgical celebration in the coming days, allowing for more people to gather in our parishes and other faith communities.

I believe that we are playing with real fire here. I fail to see the wisdom in opening the doors to more and more people while at the same time, the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, and the horrific number of deaths are rising right alongside … to my thinking, this is not rocket-science. It seems dangerous and a bit reckless to be putting the ability to be in the presence of Christ found and shared in the ritual of consecrated bread and wine above the concern, health, and well-being for the other, yes, “transubstantiated” presence of Christ found in the assembly who not only gathers together for Sunday, but live as pilgrims in the faith day to day in the world.

 

I mean, I get it. I know people are anxious to “get back to church.” I miss not being at liturgy, too. I too, want to be in the same space with the people with whom I feel the deep connection of a Christ-Faith Community. But we are called on a deeper level, NOT to “go to church,” but to BE church, in the places outside of the sanctuary – especially now. This church, the Body of Christ, is already present in the holy people of God in our homes, our families, in our relationships, and those “out there” (who are reachable through phone calls, letters and through the gift of social media), who we can be attentive to, and to honor with the same reverence.

 

There is also, to my brain, a problem with saying that only a small number of people are allowed to attend in the early “first stages” of this coming together for liturgy, and then, as I have seen in some diocesan guideline announcements, that the next stage should only allow a number of people that would not exceed 30% of the seating capacity in the worship space. While it is sacramentally and bit theologically coercive to “make people” gather for sacrament … it seems equally coercive to tell people, while opening its doors, to “stay away.” Does it not seem just a bit ironic and wrong-headed to have hospitals becoming more and more full than our churches?

 

Pope Francis has called us to be ministers and servants in the “field hospitals” of the suffering and poor. In our frantic ache to gather back into the church buildings to celebrate the liturgy, to be in the presence of Christ in the sharing at the table of the “liturgical” proclamation of the Word and the resurrection meal of the Eucharist … should we not first and foremost during these times, be more anxious to be in and serve at (in creative ways) the table of the WORLD? Fr. Kenan Osborne once said: “We must find the Lord not only in the table of the Eucharist, but in the table of the world around us. If we do not see Jesus in the table of the world, we really will not find Jesus in the table of the Eucharist.”

 

The celebration of the Eucharist is most certainly the “summit and source” of our life as members of the Christian clan. But if we cannot first celebrate this presence, and nurture and expand its healing grace in where the Christ is most present and most needed – in the world right now that is suffering beyond what our hearts and brains can cope with at times – then in my mind, our efforts and strategies to come back to the liturgical space while it is considered by experts to be a dangerous proposition – is a grave mistake, and in conflict with the reasons why we gather to celebrate in the first place. The values of “full, conscious, and active participation” of the liturgy begins and always moves toward the full, conscious and active participation in the LIFE OF CHRIST. Out there … in the world. Not only nor primarily in our lovely and comfortable liturgical spaces (which I believe, will not feel comfortable for many for some time).

 

There is a story that is told of Mother Theresa of Calcutta that she once allegedly said “when I hold the Eucharist in my hands and when a I hold a leprous person in my hands I am holding the same Christ.”

 

Can we be a bit more patient, calm down, and think through the potential consequences of being too much in a hurry? I know, it is hard. But can we discern and examine where our decisions might lead us, not only in terms of safety and public health, but also possibly putting the gospel cause at peril?

 

So, I apologize for my rant, and I know many will not like what I am saying here. But in the midst of all that seems to be a driven-centered need to get back to “normal liturgical celebrations” (which they are now, not so, and will not be for some time, by the way), I cannot stay silent. So, I dissent.

No Schools To Open In The Fall

Of course, we are not going to open schools in the fall.

You know why? Because we are in the midst of a pandemic and will be in the fall also.

It will be just fine to not open schools in the fall. This blog will explain that in detail in subsequent postings. But for now, let’s accept where we are. Let’s tell the Connecticut  Commissioner of Education that we get it that we are in a pandemic and do not expect or want schools to open in the fall. Let’s tell Governor Lamont the same thing. And let’s tell our local Superintendent of Schools to relax because we get it about being in a pandemic and ask him or her to explore different ways to meet the needs of our children other than to pack them into school buildings.

Dana Millbank in The Washington Post describes succinctly where we are as a country and why we should not for one minute even think about opening schools in the fall. Please read:

Counter-protesters block a drive-by protest during a rally to reopen the country and economy during the coronavirus pandemic outside City Hall in Philadelphia on May 8.
Counter-protesters block a drive-by protest during a rally to reopen the country and economy during the coronavirus pandemic outside City Hall in Philadelphia on May 8. (Matt Slocum/AP)

May 8, 2020 at 3:27 p.m. EDT

 

Now is the spring of our disgrace.

 

Around the world, countries are winning the battle against the coronavirus and beginning a responsible return to work, school and leisure, confident that their governments have the deadly virus in check.

 

But the United States plays the loser. Unwilling to do the hard work needed to beat the pandemic, we are quitting: forcing people back to work without protections people in other countries enjoy. The most powerful country in the world is failing.

In October, Johns Hopkins University rated the United States the country best prepared for an epidemic, as President Trump boasted in February. But this week, a Hopkins scientist told Congress we are “the worst affected country in the world.” How did the best become the worst?

Trump has abandoned attempts to control the pandemic, though there is no downturn in cases. His administration ignores its own reopening requirements and shelves guidelines written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead Trump applauds reckless reopening in a way that, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, admitted, “will lead to an increase and spread. It’s almost ipso facto.”

This is state-sanctioned killing. It is a conscious decision to accept 2,000 preventable deaths every day, because our leaders believe the victims are the poor schlubs who work in meat-processing plants, not “regular folks,” as Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack memorably put it this week.

It is deliberately sacrificing the old, factory workers, and black and Hispanic Americans, who are dying at higher rates. This comes after “stimulus” programs passed by Congress proved a bonanza to big business and billionaires but offered little to the nearly one-fifth of American children who are not getting enough to eat — a rate three times as high as during the Great Recession, a Brookings Institution study found.

The mindless reopening is as stupid as it is immoral. Does anybody truly believe Americans will return to work while the virus rages? Send our kids to schools without tools in place to stop outbreaks? Put our parents in retirement homes that, without adequate testing, are often death traps? Enjoy a restaurant, theater, flight to Disney World or trip to the mall, knowing it could kill us? Reopening masquerades as a political cause — LIBERATE! — but it is really a lazy unwillingness to do the hard work to defeat the virus, and to restore our economy.

It didn’t have to be this way.

New Zealand just announced that it has eliminated the virus. Australia is close behind. They did this with all the things we didn’t do: aggressive lockdowns, huge investments in testing and contact tracing and reliable, apolitical communication by government. New Zealand says 75 percent of its economy is reopening.

Germany, Greece, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong are among those defeating the virus, too.

Yet, encouraged by Trump, mostly Republican-led states plunge ahead with reopening without the necessary tests, tracing, masks or isolation facilities — pretending the virus will disappear if we look the other way. Arizona typifies the new head-in-sand approach, trying to get scientists at state universities to “pause” modeling of the virus’s progression as the state reopens.

Disaster awaits. Andy Slavitt, a senior health official during the Obama administration, notes that outside of New York, cases are actually increasing, at a rate that would present 50,000 new cases a day by month’s end.

“It’s a huge gamble,” Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski told Christian broadcaster David Brody this week. If “we see an uptick again in the covid-19 pandemic coming back because we didn’t handle it right the first time — we still don’t have testing and we don’t have a solution — that is devastating as an incumbent president.”

And rather more devastating for the people dying. But Trump seems unconcerned. Asked about unemployment, which just hit a highest-since-the-Depression 14.7 percent, Trump declared: “Nobody is blaming me.”

True, most Americans accept as necessary the economic pain of shutting down. And Trump’s supporters seem not to care that his early failures led directly to our highest-in-the-world death count of 76,000. Too many even seem unconcerned about the deaths, concentrated in minority communities.

But they will soon see other countries’ economies reopening safely because other governments got the virus under control. And they will see deaths accelerate here, making consumers and workers frightened to return. All we can do is pray for a vaccine breakthrough and hope summer weather helps. That’s because our president abandoned the fight.

 

Trump can lie all he likes about the adequacy of testing and supplies, and blame his predecessor, his opponents and the media for his incompetence. It doesn’t matter to the virus. As we progress toward what could be the autumn of our agony, he owns all of what comes next — politically and morally.

Our Children Are Not Falling Behind

Don’t worry that our children are “falling behind” and must get back to school in the fall before it is safe to do so. They are learning so much in this terrible pandemic. They are learning how to be people of integrity by sheltering in place. They are learning how to care for others by not socializing as they love to do. They are learning how to be resilient by doing what each day requires of them. They are learning how to have courage by not giving up even though the time of the pandemic stretches before us into the summer and fall. They are learning that they have adults in their lives who give to them and care for them in remarkable ways that spell love every single day. The children are learning how to grow up and become adults of integrity, courage, and compassion. Our children are learning all they need to learn.

This salute to our children is circulating online. I post it in solidarity with its authors:

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Everyone is applauding everyone children. These heroes have stayed indoors more than they've ever known in Their whole worlds literally been turned upside down and they don't know why. All these rules they've never known. being family or give hugs. Vacations, sports and activities, play dates school canceled. Adults talking about others becoming unwell, news reporting death after death. Our children's minds be racing. Every day their resilient little bodies get up and on despite all that's going So here's to little heroes: today, tomorrow, forever'

 

In The Next Phase Of The Pandemic

 

This startling fact was posted by Beth Bye, a long-term Connecticut state senator and current head of the Connecticut State Office of Early Childhood. The statistic was determined by a highly credentialed research organization

 
Preventing 10,000 deaths means that 10,000 mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters are with their families who, otherwise, would not be, due solely to the effectiveness of social isolation. We, here in Connecticut, learn each day of one more death of someone we know, one more loss. The news of those deaths pains us, and the losses overwhelms us. It seems that 10,000 more deaths would be more than any of us could handle.  
 
We can prevent illness and death if we each commit to continue social distancing when, to aid the economy, the states lessen restrictions on social distancing although the virus will be still with us. At that time it will be up to us, as individuals, to decide how we will go about our lives. By not inviting people into our homes, by not gathering with friends in their homes, by not meeting up with others in churches, synagogues, and mosques, by not permitting our children to play with other children, by not going to a crowded neighborhood pool or beach, by not getting a much-needed haircut, by not going to a restaurant or bar, by not going to the gym, and by not traveling on planes, trains, and buses, we can save someone’s son, save someone’s daughter, save someone’s sister, save someone’s brother, save someones mother, and save someone’s father. 
 
We can save ourselves. 
 
We ARE  all in this together. Stay safe. Keep others safe.
 

 

More Than 14 Lies Per Day

 

The Washington Post fact checkers and staff have determined that Donald Trump in three years in office as President of the United States made 16, 241 false or misleading statements. That is more than 14 lies per day.

But wait: Telling more than 14 lies per day is not acceptable behavior for any of our K-12 students in this country.

In elementary school, we teach children how to be good members of their class.  We tell them not to lie, steal, or be unkind to one another. If a child told 14 lies each day, a PPT  (Planning and Placement Team composed of the student’s parents and educators) would be called and and an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) drawn up and given to the classroom teacher as well as the child’s art, music, and physical education teachers. The IEP would center on immediate and ongoing interventions from a school social worker and school system psychologist in order to change the child’s habit of telling lies and to address the child’s psychological need to do so.

In middle school, we teach young adolescents how to navigate their growing independence and become contributing members of peer groups that are increasingly important to them. If a middle schooler told 14 lies each day, individual psychotherapy would be recommended and increased school social services put in place. All of the students’ teachers would be notified of the student’s problem through an updated IEP (Individual Education Plan), and they would meet regularly with an intervention team.

In high school, we bring adolescents to the beginning of adulthood and encourage their involvement in opportunities for leadership. A student with a habit of telling 14 lies per day would be excluded from those opportunities. Membership in the National Honor Society requires proof of the student having four attributes: character, scholarship, leadership, and service. A student who told 14 lies per day would surely not qualify as having character. Also, being a captain of an athletic team, an officer of the student council, or the captain of a debate team would necessitate having a habit of honesty. In addition, a student who told more than 14 lies per day would be hard put to get teacher and guidance counselor recommendations for his college applications.  The student’s high school experience would be without distinction and his future prospects quite dim.

Yet we have a President of the United States of America who has told more than 14 lies per day to the people of the United States. We have a President who, at the going rate, will publicly tell 3,794 more lies before leaving office on January 20, 2021.

How can we, as parents and educators, speak to our children about honesty and decency when a person who lies is our President?

We can’t.

We must not re-elect Donald Trump.

Our children deserve a President to whom they can look up to as a model of good behavior, as a leader worth emulating, as a person who simply tells the truth.

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