This school year has been, without compare, one of the most disaster-ridden, confusing, frustrating, and infuriating years for everyone involved. Not only were we woefully unprepared for a global pandemic at the infrastructure level, but our community was let down by a lack of political leadership, clear guidance, and even the most basic presumption of what information was true. No surprise, then, that we saw these negative feelings amplify when, after a two-month long attempt at hybrid learning, NYC schools shut down.

In this episode Dan interviews Erik Shell, education policy expert and Radio Free’s Senior Education Corespondent, about how we got here, what we could have done different, and what we can do to make sure this never happens again.

We talk about how the lack of national response cornered New York policy makers into a lose-lose situation, how political fights were dropped out of fear and convenience, and how progressive ideas like city-wide broadband access have a huge impact on schools whether we’re in a pandemic or not.

Schoolchildren practice gargling in school during the 1918-19 Influenza pandemic | Vintage_Space / Alamy Stock Photo

Audio Bookmarks

Show Notes

First off, here are those contradictory Duke and Princeton studies regarding the role children play in virus transmission. Neither are universally conclusive, both are being used to drive political messaging rather than public health decisions.

Learning Loss

This is a complicated subject with a hell of a lot of gated research, so for overly simplistic summaries of all points:

The CDC Guidelines

To prevent myself from writing three pages of vitriol, here’s just a simple link to those CDC guidelines for why schools should reopen. If you want a more detailed rundown of my arguments against each and every point made by the CDC, you can read that here.

The 1918 Influenza

With more NYT PDFs than you can imagine, here’s the result of Dan and Erik’s deep dive on how schools handled the 1918 flu pandemic.

School-age children wearing masks during the 1918 Influenza epidemic | Vintage_Space / Alamy Stock Photo

Further Reading…

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