A Plea For Leadership
I took a break this weekend from Twitter and looking at the data and it was wonderful.
The quick news is that the southern border states are mostly past the peak (we hope!) of their COVID surge with deaths still coming in and likely to peak in the next week or so. With the exception of Missouri, there don’t seem to be any really frightening case spikes. We’re seeing some slow case growth in most of the country that could be controllable and attributable to testing… or could be the first stages of a surge toward the end of the month similar to what we’ve seen in the southern border states.
Maybe I’ll make “COVID Across the Country” a monthly thing.
A Plea for Leadership in Education
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Disney Shorts: The China Plate
A Plea For Leadership In Education
Kids are starting to go “back to school” this week, which means an incredibly wide range of things to different people. In the past, I’ve considered myself only qualified to speak for my own region outside Seattle, but the last few months of the school year were not that terrible. The teachers did really great work under enormous pressure and I was pretty satisfied with the range of assignments and online interactions. Overall the experience was about as good as I could have hoped under the circumstances.
But in the last few weeks, I discovered that I’m really not even qualified to speak for the Seattle suburbs, but for only two classes in one school in one district.
Several of my friends with children the same ages as our kids had really horrible experiences, from wild wild west Zoom calls to teachers who simply disappeared as soon as school moved online. The reasons seemed varied, although I got the sense that many teachers were simply unable to manage the fairly hefty technology lift that was suddenly required of them.
Twitter being what it is, I keep seeing Very Bad Behavior from teachers claiming that they cannot return to teach or that they cannot teach remotely. This is where I remind myself that news is dead and I can’t possibly trust anything unless I hear it first hand from someone I trust.
Speaking only for what I know, I was happy with the plan our school was putting together. Split the classes in two, group 1 would come in Monday, Tuesday, clean the school on Wednesday, group 2 comes in Thursday, Friday. Anyone who feels like the risks are too great was welcome to opt for the remote-only option. There was never a hint from the principal or teachers that they feared or resented coming back to school. Instead there was a determination to make this work, to do the hard things and make this happen.
The educators had been working hard on this guidance, but you could see their helpless frustration bubbling through. In a slide-deck from 11 days ago (when they were still planning to open), there were several fairly passive-aggressive text overlays so that a slide of Governor Inslee re-opening plan became
Additional slides clearly required by various authorities were included and then modified to convey the frustration. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Guidance was mealy-mouthed and vague. Over their slide, the school helpfully annotated:
OSPI has stated they do not intend on updating this guidance.
The Department of Health issued a set of boilerplate bullet points about hygiene, face coverings, and physical distancing. Over that slide, the black box of clarity informs us:
Currently, the Department of Health has not provided guidance or metrics to support the evaluation for re-opening schools.
At the moment, all the families I know are making alternate plans. No on thinks that remote-only learning will be sufficient and no one wants to be subject to the dice-roll of getting the teacher who might actually be able to pull this off. We all feel like we have to fend for ourselves.
I’m disinclined to cast blame, but I certainly share the frustration these school administrators have. They are the retail clerks of the education system. They see all the customers and are the brunt of all the complaints but they don’t actually have any power in this scenario or make any of the key decisions.
I am quite frustrated with our leadership in Seattle, Washington, and on the federal level. Every level of leadership seems to be abdicating their responsibility and either hoping that no one notices or blaming the next level up for their lack of coherent leadership.
The inevitable result is that there is an “every family for itself” sense in my peer group. We’re starting to coordinate and considering getting together weekly for group lessons. I’m lucky in that we have friends with kids the same age, but I can’t help but imagine that there is about to be a rather severe divide between the families who have the time, energy, money, and ability to organize this way and those who do not. There is little choice but to see where this takes us.
Support Rodney With Me
Have you met Rodney Smith Jr? He is the purest joy on Twitter.
Rodney runs a non-profit called Raising Men Lawn Care Service which promotes building community and a hard work ethic among young people by encouraging them to mow lawns for those in need (veterans, the elderly, the disabled, and single mothers). The big task that RMLCS sets to young people (men and women) is to mow 50 lawns for people in need, the 50 yard challenge.
I don’t know how to normally do something like this, but I want to do a matching campaign for Rodney. I can match up to $1000 in donations either through his website or through the purchase of lawnmowers from his Amazon Wish List that he gives to kids who complete their 50 yard challenge.
If you want to take a screenshot of your donation or lawnmower purchase, DM it to me on Twitter (@politicalmath) or email it to me at politicalmatth (at) gmail.com and I’ll match it. We need so much encouragement these days and Rodney is certainly that encouragement to me.
Disney Shorts: The China Plate
I’ve been watching through the Disney shorts for some time and when I came upon this one I was surprised at what a delightful change of pace it was from Disney’s early work. The short begins with a view of an elaborately patterned China plate and the camera zooms in to show the scene on the plate come alive. The short begins with a meal and entertainment in the court of an enormous and cruel emperor, but turns into a delightful romantic adventure with rescues and fight scenes and chases and dragons.
As I was reading more about this short, I discovered that it actually fits within Disney’s drive to retell folk stories in animated form. The plate in the story is very nearly identical to the Willow pattern of china that was popular when Disney was young and the story this cartoon tells is similar to the folk tales associated with the Willow pattern. Fascinating stuff!