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 someone’s mother, and save someone’s father.We can save ourselves.We ARE all in this together. Stay safe. Keep others safe.
Month: April 2020
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 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.
Viewing the Video
In my most recent post entitled There Are Two Words For It: Stupid and Dangerous, if your email did not contain the video mentioned in the post, click on the title of the post, and in a minute or less, the video will appear. It is worth watching.
I can’t remember when I have used the word “stupid”. Using it in the title of a post indicates how truly awful I find the decision of the Governor of Georgia.
There’s Two Words For It: Stupid And Dangerous
We teach our high school students when they write an essay in their English class to present clear evidence for their position and to reach a conclusion that is well-founded and offers a logical plan of action.
The Governor of Georgia clearly is not demonstrating the good thinking of high school students. If he wrote his plan in an essay, the essay would earn an F.
Watch this video of Dr. Karla Lorraine who is so dismayed that Governor Kemp has reached the conclusion, with absolutely no evidence, that the people of Georgia no longer need to maintain any social distancing and can gather together in gyms, massage parlors, movie theaters, bowling alleys, restaurants, and on beaches.
Governor Kemp is “liberating” Georgia. He is in sync with Donald Trump who contradicted the social distancing policy of his own administration and urged Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia to “liberate” themselves and similarly open up their states.
Dr. Lorraine knows too well what will result from Governor Kemp’s plan and from Donald Trump’s advocacy to “liberate” states from social distancing: illness and death.
Our National Shame Is At The Top
As we English teachers read great literature with our high school students, the question of what makes someone a hero frequently occurs. We question together what qualities in a person cause us to be inspired by her or him. We discuss what uplifts us about human beings and what we want to emulate in the actions of others. In every discussion about what is heroic, students bring up the idea of a hero having an individual conscience and doing what the person thinks is right, regardless of the personal consequences.
Recently, Captain Brett Crozier, the captain of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, was fired from the United States Navy for doing just that. He reported that 100 men on the aircraft carrier tested positive for the COVID19, and, to save the lives of the crew, the aircraft carrier needed to dock. He was fired for that action. However, the great grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, for whom the aircraft carrier is named, not only supports what Captain Crozier did but also wrote that his great grandfather did the same thing. The sailors onboard the aircraft carrier were grateful to Captain Crozier for his lifesaving action and cheered for him as he disembarked the carrier. The crew sees their captain as a hero.
Future high school students will bring in the example of Captain Crozier as they analyze the motivations and actions of Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch, Arthur Miller’s John Proctor, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Toni Morrison’s Sethe. They will also bring in examples from the current President and his cabinet who condemn Captain Crozier’s motivation and actions. Those students will, without doubt, analyze the current administration as being totally bereft of real leadership and not possessing any shred of a moral center.
The nature of tragedy in our national life is monumentally expanded by the current President. To our devastating peril and our national shame.
What Our Children Need Right Now
The following article was written by Joel Westheimer, a journalist who writes about pubic education, and was originally posted by Diane Ravitch. He tells us the education that our kids need from us now.
FORGET THE WORKSHEETS AND TRYING TO REPLICATE SCHOOL
I am really struck by the variety of media inquiries I’ve been getting about the impacts of Covid-19 on education, what parents should be doing at home, and so on. The interest doesn’t surprise me (I am an education columnist on public radio), but the preoccupation with whether kids will “fall behind” or with how they will “catch up” has. I see hundreds of stories, websites, and YouTube videos that aim to help parents create miniature classrooms at home. Maybe some parents have folding chairs they can bring up from the basement and put in rows. Where’s that big blackboard we used to have? Is there a run on chalk at Costco?
Stop worrying about the vague and evidence-less idea of children “falling behind” or “catching up.” This is a world-wide pause in life-as-usual. We’ve spent the last 25 years over-scheduling kids, over-testing kids, putting undue pressure on them to achieve more and more and play less and less. The result? Several generations of children and young adults who are stressed-out, medicated, alienated, and depressed.
This is not a time for worksheets. This is an opportunity (for those of us lucky enough to be at home and not in hospitals or driving buses or keeping our grocery store shelves stocked) to spend meaningful time with our children to the extent it is possible in any given family. Parents shouldn’t be thinking about how to keep their kids caught up with the curriculum or about how they can recreate school at home or how many worksheets they should have their children complete. They should bake a cake together. Make soup. Grow something in the garden. Take up family music playing. And neither school personnel nor parents should be focusing on how quickly or slowly children will return to school because none of us know We should be focusing on ensuring that teachers are afforded the conditions they need to best support their students — now when school is out and later when school is back in.
Remember that ditty about the two Chinese brush-strokes that comprise the word ‘crisis’? One is the character for ‘danger’ and the other the character for ‘opportunity.’ We are more and more aware of the danger. But we’re missing out on the opportunity: to spend time as families (in whatever form that family takes in your household).
This brings me back to the questions I keep getting. What are my recommendations for what to do with your children at home when they are missing so much school? Stop the homework (unless you and your children are enjoying it).Stop the worksheets. Stop trying to turn your kitchen into Jaime Escalante’s A.P. math class. But do help your children structure their day. Help them process what is going on around them. Help them engage in activities that do not take place on a screen. Help them maintain physical activities whether that means running around the block, running up and down the stairs, or running around the kitchen.Help them be creative. Give them — to the extent possible in your household — the gift of time and attention.
And when brick-and-mortar school (hopefully) returns next Fall, let’s give teachers a great deal of latitude in what, how, and when to teach any particular subject matter. Their primary job should be to restore a sense of safety, nurture a sense of possibility, and rebuild the community lost through extended social isolation.
Joel Westheimer is University Research Chair in Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa and an education columnist for CBC’s Ottawa Morning and Ontario Today shows. His most recent book is “What Kind of Citizen: Educating Our Children for the Common Good.” You can follow him on Twitter: @joelwestheimer.