I’ve been homeschooling my son since March. He is seven years old, and he’s obsessed with dinosaurs and the pyramids of Egypt. So most of our curriculum revolves around velociraptors, King Tut, or a combination of both. And yes, King Tut fighting velociraptors would be an awesome Bruckheimer movie.
However, and this may shock you, I cannot replace a trained teacher who actually knows what he or she is doing. So just a few months ago, I was hopeful that our local schools would at least partially open, and my son could continue his proper education and socialize with his friends.
In retrospect, that idea seems so naïve that perhaps I should be the person in my house who is heading off to second grade soon.
Although to be fair, I did not believe at the time that my fellow Americans would be so foolish, so reckless, so gobsmackingly selfish that their insane actions would cause the pandemic to not only linger at lethal levels, but soar to deadly new heights. Even at my most cynical (and I can be crazy cynical), I still thought we had a chance at joining the civilized world by cobbling together some kind of semi-organized, barely coherent plan for self-preservation.
No, thank you. We would all rather die.
Despite the clear statistical and anecdotal evidence that it is idiotic to open schools now (when the situation is actually worse than when we closed them in the first place), our rejected Veep character of a leader is insisting—even demanding—that we flood kids back into their classrooms and hope for the best. Of course, in this scenario, hoping for the best means “only a hundred kids die and maybe a couple thousand teachers, tops.” Hey, we can’t let the science get in our way.
The president apparently believes that reopening schools and further spreading the virus will boost his chances of reelection. No, I don’t understand the logic either. But keep in mind that this is the same guy who thought sending in federal troops to rough up protesters would somehow make suburban moms vote for him. So who knows what the hell he’s thinking.
In any case, Trump’s bellicose stance on schools is one of his least popular positions (and the guy has lots of opinions that people just hate). In fact, a majority of Americans oppose the administration’s demands for schools to reopen, with an overwhelming 65% against “cutting funds to schools that do not physically reopen, as Trump had threatened.” And of course, school districts from LA to Chicago have ignored the president’s whining and made plans for virtual learning instead.
Yes, even some of Trump’s hardcore supporters draw the line at sacrificing their own children just so he has a better shot at winning North Carolina. Sure, they’ll happily sacrifice other people’s children, but not their own, so maybe there is an upper limit to the cult’s power.
Now, this whole scheme—to call it a “plan” is absurd—is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s general incompetence. After all, there is no national strategy for reopening the schools, no real guidelines on how to do it safely, and no ideas for how to deal with a viral outbreak in the classroom. Call it the return of Republican magical thinking or “no exit strategy, part two.” Either way, it illustrates how conservatives cannot think even one step ahead, no matter how predictable, logical, or necessary that step might be.
But wait, it gets worse.
Because in addition to the haphazard flailing from the White House that we’ve seen so many times before, this debacle in the making is fresh proof of the administration’s complete indifference and/or active contempt for the well-being of Americans.
It also reinforces the conservative disdain for education in general, and for public education in particular. Republicans are always freaking out that their children are being “indoctrinated” by teachers who point out that climate change has a scientific basis and that the Tulsa Massacre actually happened. More specifically, this administration has not been shy about its goal of making sure that only rich kids going to private religious schools actually get instruction.
Speaking of instructors, I’m still trying to figure out how, according to the GOP, teachers are lazy morons and a scourge to America, but they also should be trusted with firearms (you know, to defend against all those school shootings that are the price of freedom). And in today’s world, teachers should be happy to die of coronavirus if it means kids can get out of their parents’ hair for a few hours.
And speaking of kids, conservatives have made it clear that they really don’t care about educational excellence (that’s something those socialist losers in Finland inexplicably prioritize). To the GOP, school is just glorified daycare, which allows parents to work, which keeps the economy going, which is the most important thing in the universe. And since we should all be willing to die for the sake of the stock market, opening schools is a natural extension of the Republican death cult.
As a final insult, we hear that we cannot possibly take even minimal efforts to safeguard classrooms because it would cost too much. This argument is never—as in never, never, never—made when we are talking about, say, a new aircraft carrier or a pile of bombs that can blow up a continent or invading a foreign land. For those items, we have infinite cash. Also, we can always cut taxes for millionaires, but hand sanitizer is a fucking handout.
As a not-so-wise man once said, “It is what it is.”