To be honest, I have stopped following most of the coronavirus “news” because it’s all too agenda-driven and stupid for words now. Living in an aggressively open state that isn’t hell-bent on committing economic suicide or censoring well-meaning dissent, it feels like the descriptions of life in other more… draconian? fascist? cruel? … places relate to an entirely different country. As far as I’m concerned, blue states like California, Washington, and Illinois might as well be communist China, socialist Venezuela, or theocratic Iran at this point. People choose to live there – I don’t know why, maybe because they are true believers or financial prisoners or so high they don’t know what day of the week it is – and their lives are irrational and miserable tributes to the madness of crowds because of it. De gustibus non est disputandum. I’ve watched enough failed states through a financial lens and consumed enough history books to understand how this is all going to end, and it’s more depressing in its predictability than interesting for its novelty. I’d rather go work in the garden.
But a friend sent me the CDC guidelines for opening schools and childcare facilities this afternoon and it really began to wash over me what the true believers and their political agenda were going to do to a generation of children. Having Karen from Facebook as a mother getting you worked up emotionally over every manufactured crisis is nothing compared to what truly malicious institutions can achieve.
This cohort of perpetual bureaucrats has wrecked the lives of earlier generations already, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Millennials are approaching middle age with negative net worth after receiving an education that was more sentimental than academic. Common Core and outsourcing classrooms to gadgets has produced an innumerate and illiterate generation. And somehow all these problems have some Bill Gates origin story, but no one has locked the world’s most counterproductive philanthropist in a closet yet. But the idea of state and local governments actually following these guidelines and turning public (and private!) schools into something worse than prison? Maybe I really should start writing more how-to posts on how to homeschool your child.
I posted a link to the full guidelines above, but this image that is going viral does a decent job of summarizing them.
Most state and local governments simply cannot afford to implement these provisions. They are almost universally facing budget deficits of upwards of 20% after the lockdown, and the ones that have not been serious about re-opening their economies are only watching those deficits balloon even further. They aren’t going to go out and purchase a new fleet of school buses so only 20 students can ride on each bus. They were pushing purchases of school supplies off on parents during robust economic times, so they aren’t going to increase their purchases of classroom equipment exponentially. I’m not exactly sure how they think schools are going to keep kids and teachers in static cohorts, either. Are English teachers going to start teaching AP Physics? That should be good for a belly-laugh, but that’s not an education.
I have the vague sense that institutional true believers are going to advocate for online learning to become a semi-permanent feature. And that’s going to create some interesting all-animals-are-equal-but-some-animals-are-more-equal-than-others social dynamics. (And probably a lot of layoffs in education.)
First, the guidelines state that schools and daycares should initially only open for the children of “essential” workers. Everyone else’s career is less important. And beyond that, the education of their children is less important. If your daddy is the governor or a doctor, then you deserve to be in school. All your less important peers can do ABC Mouse.
Second, if online learning becomes the norm, much of the progress that has been made in getting women into the workplace is likely going to be annihilated. And the kids who will do the best over time will be the families where the parents can still afford to supplement their online learning with something closer to real instruction and mentoring.
Third, the only way to have a social life is going to be outside of school. This eliminates the biggest bullshit criticism of homeschooling there is, which is that homeschooled children do not socialize enough. That’s not true and never was – and it’s not like the socialization that takes place in traditional schools is generally positive – but now the families that don’t play by the rules will be the ones who are unquestionably better off in terms of nurturing human relationships.