Schools Shutdown Due to Coronavirus
With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), events that draw hundreds or thousands of people, such as conferences, sporting events, and parades, are either canceled or postponed. Many companies have temporarily closed their doors and employees who can work from home are doing so. Others are finding themselves out of work altogether. On the education front, most schools have closed temporarily and many have shifted to online learning.
Ill-prepared for the fallout caused by the pandemic, schools may find they are flying by the seat of their pants when trying to launch virtual teaching. As early as February, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were advising school districts to plan for long- or short-term shutdowns as the disease was expected to spread.
While many students are equipped with computers and tablets from their schools and can receive emailed assignments and instructions at home, some students don’t have that option. In poorer districts, school resources are limited and there are fewer devices to go around. Some students don’t have access to home internet, or even to a computer.
District leaders across the country with disadvantaged student populations are grappling with the question of how to continue instruction if they need to close for longer than a few weeks.
Superintendent Sal Pascarella of Connecticut’s Danbury Public Schools said that leaders in his district haven’t yet figured out “how to maintain the flow of learning if school needs to close for an extended period of time.” He admitted they are “resigned to accept that students won’t be able to access new concepts or learning materials if they’re stuck at home for more than a few days.” He added that his school district “would not be able to sustain in a meaningful way substantive teaching in the content area on a platform like teleteaching.” Education Week, Mar. 5, 2020. While that may seem like a relief to many parents opposed to the curricula in public schools, similar impacts are being felt by private, parochial and other alternative schools as well.
Of course, homeschooling remains an attractive option with its decades-long history of proven success, and it has even been mentioned as a resource in very rural public-school districts such as Sitka, Alaska, despite the education establishment’s deep-seated opposition to homeschooling.
The homeschool organization HSLDA has reported an increased level of interest in homeschooling across the country, and some HSLDA members say they are receiving inquiries from families with children in recently-shuttered schools. The organization is offering a “Homeschooling Quick Start Guide” that can be accessed at hslda.org/quickstart. One potentially bright spot in this crisis is that some families could decide to make homeschooling a permanent solution for educating their children.
Keeping low-income students fed
For children in low-income families, the challenge of a closed school goes beyond education by remote means. Many of these students rely on the meals they receive every day at school through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. The Trump administration’s Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, announced that as schools close “we are going to do the very best we can with the tools we have to get those kids fed.” The Epoch Times, March 10, 2020.
Options for addressing the problem include expanding the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, allowing schools to deliver meals to satellite locations in their communities where “grab-and-go” bagged lunches can be picked up, and an overall easing of the rules governing these programs. Recent natural disasters such as the wildfires in California and floods in Nebraska prompted the USDA to be more flexible when dealing with displaced low-income children, and these modifications are being extended to the coronavirus crisis.
Many schools have spring break during the month of March, and the timing can presumably be adjusted to cover the immediate need to keep students out of the classroom. When the schools will reopen is an open question at this time.
Education News Briefs
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has proposed a new law allowing the use of 401K and pre-tax income for college tuition. The Higher Education Loan Payment and Enhanced Retirement (HELPER) Act would allow Americans to withdraw up to $5,250 annually from a 401K or IRA for college tuition, without taxes or penalties. It would allow employers to sponsor student loan and tuition payment plans up to the same amount. Senator Paul’s proposal would also enable college graduates with student loan debt (or older working students) to deposit money in an IRA specifically to pay their student loans or their tuition with pre-tax dollars. Senator Paul said: “Instead of empowering the federal government to increase its involvement in education, which will only raise costs even higher and further lower the value of our dollars to cover them, we can empower the American people to reduce the burden of debt, realize the dreams they studied hard to achieve, and grow their retirement savings.”
Dr. Rand Paul’s Higher …, Reactionary Times, Dec. 6, 2019
Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s plan for higher education aims to make community and technical college education “free” and carries a $750 billion price tag. Democrat candidate Biden, who has just been endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA), plans on “cutting income percentage caps in half,” delaying payments for Americans earning less than $25,000 per year with no additional interest, forgiving any remaining debt after 20 years, and allowing personal bankruptcy to get out of debt. His plan would ultimately place the cost burden on taxpayers, with the states covering 25 percent and the federal government covering 75 percent of the cost. Biden’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders, favors a more sweeping and expensive approach, with a plan to forgive all student loan debt at an estimated cost of $1 trillion. These proposals include tax increases and are considered likely to be more burdensome on the middle class.
Reactionary Times, Oct. 8, 2019
Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children
(Adapted from Phyllis Schlafly’s Review, May 2015)
Samuel Blumenfeld & Alex Newman, WND Books, 2015, $26.95
The basic “crimes of the educators” are described in the 2015 book by Samuel Blumenfeld under that title. If we want our children to be smart and successful, rather than join the millions who graduate from high school unable to read their own diplomas, or go into debt taking remedial courses in college, we need Blumenfeld’s book.
If a child is not a good reader, chances are he is not stupid or afflicted with some brain disability. It’s much more likely that the child was never properly taught how to read. The failure to teach schoolchildren how to read in the first grade means that they fall farther behind with each passing year and soon become bored and resentful of school. By the time they get to the fourth grade, American students are scoring below children of many other nations.
Blumenfeld’s book details the process by which this happened, and it wasn’t any accident. It was planned that way by the socialists who believe that the way to undermine the U.S. capitalist system is to get rid of high literacy and independent intelligence so that the younger generation will accept Big Brother in the driver’s seat of our economy.
Blumenfeld traces the evolution of this system from an 1898 article called “The Primary-Education Fetich” by the father of so-called progressive education, John Dewey. In that article, Dewey wrote: “The plea for the predominance of learning to read in early school life . . . seems to me a perversion.”
Under Dewey’s progressive system, children are no longer taught phonics (how to sound out syllables so they can read big words), and instead are taught what is called the “sight” or “whole-word” method. That means they are taught to memorize a few dozen frequently used words, guess at other words from their shape, and predict the content of the article from pictures on the page. If children don’t catch on to this system, parents are falsely told that their children were born with a disability called dyslexia. Students who become disorderly are given drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall.
Dewey wrote in 1896, “It is one of the great mistakes of education to make reading and writing constitute the bulk of the school work the first two years. The true way is to teach them incidentally as the outgrowth of the social activities at this time.”
According to Blumenfeld, “To Dewey, the greatest obstacle to socialism was the private mind that seeks knowledge in order to exercise its own private judgment and intellectual authority. High literacy gave the individual the means to seek knowledge independently.”
So Dewey developed and propagated the system that discouraged high literacy and inflicted children with a method that would prevent them from reading the great books and from developing high levels of independent intelligence.
Dewey introduced his theories at Johns Hopkins University. Dewey’s study of individualism led him to believe that we could develop the socialized individual by first getting rid of the traditional emphasis on language and literacy in the primary grades and turning children toward socialized activities.
John D. Rockefeller Jr. became Dewey’s sponsor with a $3 million grant. His sons, who were then subjected to the Dewey system, later admitted how handicapped they were as public officials. Both Nelson and his brother David admitted that they were poor readers which school officials blamed on dyslexia. Nelson admitted he could not read the public speeches written for him by high-priced speechwriters and had to toss the scripts aside and speak off the cuff.
Blumenfeld recognizes Common Core as “an educational fraud.” Instead of reading the literary classics, Common Core students are given portions from tiresome government documents and technical manuals instead of great literature.
The best way parents can deal with this problem is to teach a child how to read before putting him in school, as Phyllis Schlafly did for her children and grandchildren. You can teach your child to read at home with a good phonics book such as “First Reader” and its “First Reader Workbook.” Phyllis recommended three 20-minute sessions every day for six months to achieve amazing results.
Blumenfeld’s use of the word “crimes” in the title of his book is not too strong a word to describe what the progressives have done to America and to our children. Don’t let them continue doing it to our children or grandchildren.
Teach your children and grandchildren to read with Phyllis Schlafly’s First Reader, First Reader Workbook, and Turbo Reader (perfect for the older student). Click on the links above to order yours today, or visit www.phyllisschlafly.com.
MALLARD FILLMORE / by Bruce Tinsley