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.
Quickly jump to key parts of the episode by clicking the links below…
- How did we get here?
- Who can we blame?
- The Economy vs. Children
- Maintaining a tax base
- How Education was dropped from the Direct Aid discussion
- Charters and Parochial Schools
- The CDC Arguments for opening
- Learning from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
- Parents were on their own
- Next Steps
- Looking Forward
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.
This is a complicated subject with a hell of a lot of gated research, so for overly simplistic summaries of all points:
- The basics of “summer learning loss,” the origins of the research, and basic theories of how it functions
- An article by Megan Kuhfeld, one of the main scholarly voices questioning learning loss and the data she uses
- An interesting thought piece about how schools in New Orleans were impacted by Katrina, and how that informs our thinking about COVID
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.
- Check out Erik’s blog over at VeryGoodPolicyShop.com to read more about his educational policy analysis.