SL 787

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Essay about academia — Fuck the Bread. The Bread is Over.

A war between influencers and the lifestyle gurus, who are taking advantage of this moment of social distancing to push their recipes for banana bread and yoga stretches.

We’re thinking about allowing Jonah to take a job in a COVID lab at his college this summer. Is this a really, really bad decision?

What’s going on private schools right now is VERY different from public schools. Think that the current education gap is scary? Ha! Wait until next year.

Check out the sketches of John Singer Sargent.

The pandemic is a family emergency.

42 thoughts on “SL 787

  1. Where better than a COVID lab to find limitless PPE’s and co-workers who are attuned to the risks of infection? I think it sound like a great opportunity. Plus the future benefits of having direct knowledge of what it takes to counter a pandemic, both personally and possibly professinally.

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    1. Yes, absolutely a great opportunity and a place where he is more likely to be safe in other in person opportunities. Also a great opportunity scientifically.

      My concern would be living accommodations, not the lab (if he wouldn’t be home).

      Kiddo just learned she’ll get her stipend for her internship even though it will be remote, which is pretty great.

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  2. Laura said, “We’re thinking about allowing Jonah to take a job in a COVID lab at his college this summer. Is this a really, really bad decision?”

    If you guys can deal with the risk level and think he’s up to it, it could be the making of him.

    “Worked in COVID testing lab” is a fantastic resume bullet point, even if he doesn’t go into science.

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  3. From the article, “Rachel Warach is a first-grade teacher at Chicago Jewish Day School, which provides its students with four hours and 15 minutes of daily live instruction, including yoga, art and music.”

    I’m sorry, that’s ridiculous for 1st graders, given that the parents need to oversee and provide materials for that, there will be additional seat work and reading practice and there are probably other people at home who might need the computer. When my 1st grader’s work was taking that much time, I complained until they backed off–and they have barely done any live stuff. The 20 minute math videos and 15-minute spelling videos are annoying enough. Four hours of Zoom for little kids is absurd.

    Our one classroom social Zoom for the 1st grader was very disappointing for her, as she wasn’t speaking loud enough for anybody to hear her and it’s very difficult for a little person to manage the oddities of Zoom interaction (the pauses, the weird delays, people talking at the same time, sound problems).

    The mandatory subjects for 1st graders at our private school are currently: math, reading, writing and spelling. It takes 2-3 hours a day, which is about right. Our private school has provided a lot of optional activities. We’ve done modified versions of most of the optional science, history and Bible (sorry, no, we’re not going to write 3-5 sentences with an illustration for optional assignments!) and I’ve totally skipped the optional art and music, because we just didn’t have the time or energy, as our 1st grader needs extra reading and math practice. We may look at the art and music materials after school gets out, if it’s still available online.

    “Students even do messy baking projects over Zoom, with parents as sous chefs.”

    Kill me now.

    “Now Jacob’s teacher, Dolores Morris [a public school teacher], meets with her students each morning for an hour — Jacob’s only live video instruction, according to his mother. About 11 of the 26 students in the class attend daily, Ms. Morris said.”

    Again, our private school 1st grader has had no live instruction. We’re going to have a Zoom Monday where she will read out loud to her teacher so the teacher can evaluate her reading level, but that’s it. The big kids have had a bit more, but probably not even one hour daily mandatory.

    “But what the pandemic has made clear is that remote education, especially of the youngest students, requires a rare mix of enthusiastic school leadership, teacher expertise and homes equipped with everything children need to learn effectively.”

    …which includes mom-the-teacher’s-aide and a tech support parent.

    “The [private] school has sent home books, dry-erase boards, markers and other needed supplies.”

    Our school sent home every bit of the kids’ school supplies, their math textbook and workbook, and they’ve subscribed the 1st grader to a bunch of online book and video libraries. One of the online libraries has a set-up where the kid can read a book and record themselves reading for the teacher on the site.

    “But there is little doubt that in a nation of over 100,000 shuttered schools, these children continue to receive a luxury good — one whose list price is $28,000 per year.”

    Those private school kids are not getting $28k a year in education at home.

    There’s a really misguided focus in this article on the benefit of lots of hours of large-group real time teaching online. I’d be more on board with some combination of fewer hours live, more individual or small group meetings, and use of video clips.

    “The [private] school’s curriculum is based around hands-on activities and discussion, which means young children learning from home do not need to be as adept at typing as in schools that assign more structured, written worksheets.”

    This is really annoying. Hands-on activities are HARDER on the parents than worksheets.

    “They are both working from their apartment while taking care of their two young children. Having 6-year-old Shira engaged with [private] school for most of the day, sitting across from her parents at the dining room table with headphones on, provides some respite.”

    All the ADHD or special needs parents reading this are going Hulk right now.

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    1. Hah, I thought of you when they mentioned the messy kitchen project with parents as sous chefs :-).

      And yes, measuring school in terms of hours of zoom seemed like an off base assessment of the difference between the public and private.

      I’m asking my hs kiddo to do a compare and contrast from the students point for what his classes are like v his private school friends.

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      1. bj said, “I’m asking my hs kiddo to do a compare and contrast from the students point for what his classes are like v his private school friends.”

        My senior had a Harkness table discussion on “The Road” in her lit class a week or two ago. Interestingly, they’re not required to participate in every single online discussion that is held. I bet that you get a better Zoom discussion in a smaller group. It could easily get unwieldy and disjointed if everybody showed up.

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  4. On a happier note, our family stumbled onto a very motivating incentive structure for the 1st grader.

    We have been getting the 1st grader $15-$20 prizes when she finishes a Kumon workbook (in addition to a small per page payment of a quarter for 1-4 pages depending on difficulty). Normally, the prize would be a family excursion to Dairy Queen or similar, but we’ve been ordering more stuff of late.

    The 1st grader decided at some point that she wanted a Blue Lion Voltron action figure and we went ahead and ordered it. This was accidentally a brilliant move. It turns out that you need five of the different figures to create a 16″ Voltron mega action figure.

    The 1st grader is really, really motivated now. She has earned or bought 3 of the action figures, and she’s eager to get the last 2.

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    1. I remember, when my daughter was in grade school, I promised her a new American Girl doll–I forget which one–when she had gotten A’s on five quizzes. (They had 2 or 3 quizzes every week, so it was a feasible achievement if she applied herself.) Then when she had two, she scored a goal in a soccer game so I told her that counted as an A and she only had to get two more. The moral, incidentally, is that parental involvement so outweighs everything that the schoolteachers and administrators do that it isn’t worth worrying about the latter.

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    2. I’ve never thought of incentivizing my kids for schoolwork—but I did bribe my son $5/night to sleep in his own bed. Fortunately I set a cap — thirty contiguous nights, or he’d still be earning money for sleeping.

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      1. bj said, “I’ve never thought of incentivizing my kids for schoolwork—but I did bribe my son $5/night to sleep in his own bed. Fortunately I set a cap — thirty contiguous nights, or he’d still be earning money for sleeping.”

        I once did something like that because when we were living in an iffy rental apartment, our 10-year-old’s room was somehow especially roach-y. She was refusing to sleep in her room and begging to sleep in the living room (which her dad and I needed for grownup TV viewing).

        I told her that I’d pay her $10 if a roach actually touched her. Sure enough, she wound up with a huge one clinging to the seat of her pants.

        We were all really happy to leave that apartment.

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  5. OK, this is probably going to sound like a stupid question to everyone else here, but…if he did contract COVID, seriously enough to require hospitalization….who pays that bill? Would it be covered under workers comp? Or would that be under your family plan?

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    1. Does anybody know that yet? Even for health care workers in direct patient contact, I don’t think it’s been clarified yet.

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      1. Health insurance is first party insurance, and covers health care costs regardless of why they were incurred (subject to the limitations of the plan). Since I understand Steve has a well-paying professional job, I presume he has a reasonably generous plan, which would generally cover health care costs of children under 26. (Reminder to Laura: if you took Jonah off the family plan because he was covered by the college plan, he won’t be anymore, and must either go back on that plan or find a job with health insurance.)

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      2. P.S. A health care expense might also be covered by workers’ comp. In that case, the health insurer might try to recover from the workers’ comp insurer. That would be mostly kind of irrelevant to the patient, although the health insurer may want some additional paperwork.

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    2. lubiddu said, “OK, this is probably going to sound like a stupid question to everyone else here, but…if he did contract COVID, seriously enough to require hospitalization….who pays that bill? Would it be covered under workers comp? Or would that be under your family plan?”

      That is a good question.

      If it’s a COVID lab, it feels like it ought to be worker’s comp, but who knows.

      I bet the lab is a lot safer than working a typical kid job with a lot of contact with the public.

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      1. P.P.S. I might be off by a year? Losing coverage under the college plan usually only happens at graduation. I can’t remember where Jonah stands in that regard.

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  6. Health insurance is first party insurance, and covers health care costs regardless of why they were incurred (subject to the limitations of the plan).

    This isn’t true (or at least is not true in Illinois). If you tell a health care provider that your incident happened at work, your personal health care insurance WILL NOT cover it. Which creates major issues for people whose employer denies that it happened at work. Haven’t personally experienced that, but know many people who have (and is a big reason people have to lawyer up).

    I asked because for most people, there is no way to prove one contracted it at work. That’s different for health care workers and I would suppose also for those working in a COVID lab.

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    1. Pennsylvania is similar. I’ve never had an injury at work, but there are signs on every place of employment I’ve been at for as long as I’ve been in Pennsylvania about what to do if injured at work because they are paying for it.

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    2. Live and learn. That’s not how my plan works. I guess the moral is that it’s very state-specific (and maybe plan-specific).

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  7. I honestly do not believe that the risk in a “COVID” lab would be higher than any other job where you worked in person with others. And, there are lots of labs now doing covid-related work for which there would be no risk (except the other people you are working with). If my child was considering such an opportunity I’d want to know more about the specifics, but off hand, would be less concerned than if she wanted to work in a restaurant or in daycare (which I think would be her go-to job if she were looking for one).

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    1. This is my guess also. The traditional teen/college jobs sound much more dangerous than any lab. This virus is going to kill mostly those in institutional settings and blue collar or service sector jobs where the barriers to recruiting new employees are low enough that it is cheaper to replace sick employees than spend on protections to keep them safer.

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  8. I just heard more about what a public elementary school in MA is doing from a friend and I would be very happy with it, if my child was there. They are trying to provide one/one instruction for students struggling with reading and for ELL students. They are facilitating student lead book clubs (even for 2nd graders) for more able readers; they are helping students put together teams for other activities (marble runs, poetry, research club. . . .) with facilitated activities (and google hangouts for those activities). That’s what I think I would have wanted, something that recognizes the asynchronous learning, the leveraging of outside resources, and lets the kids be more independent. But, my kids are motivated and independent would have had adult help to facilitate and would have worked together. I suspect that even more so than in a classroom individualized solutions are necessary. The school is >50% non white and >40% free lunch, so not a rich suburban school (though not, either, a poor urban school).

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  9. The Alison Roman thing blew up on twitter because both of the women she names are POC. She doesn’t name, e.g., Gwyneth Paltrow or Martha Stewart.

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      1. Outdoor classrooms are a good idea. There are German “outdoor kindergartens.” Sunscreen, a hat, bug spray, suitable outerwear, and you’re good to go.

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      2. Cranberry said, “Outdoor classrooms are a good idea. There are German “outdoor kindergartens.” Sunscreen, a hat, bug spray, suitable outerwear, and you’re good to go.”

        Some areas would have a lot of outdoor noise (street noise, planes overhead, etc.), but if it’s possible, it’s a great option.

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      3. Suitable outerwear for snow: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/18/t-magazine/germany-forest-kindergarten-outdoor-preschool-waldkitas.html

        Though it was below freezing and we had been outside for five and a half hours by the time we made our way to the bus stop, nobody — besides me — wanted to go back inside. When we returned to Robin Hood’s modest three-room building, which is filled with indoor plants and wooden forts, the children immediately kicked off their boots and stripped off their snow clothes.

        I wouldn’t make them go out in a severe polar vortex, but children are suffering a “nature deficit” as it is.

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      4. Well, it’s a question of what’s possible, or choosing the least worst option. For the record, I don’t have young children, but I remember my children’s elementary years well. It is not acceptable to stop education altogether, especially for young children. Lots of brain research shows that childhood is an optimal time to learn. We cannot take years off from teaching children.

        Some imagination could make it possible to teach some things, like taking turns, working together, listening to stories, while outside. I think that the greatest lessons in early childhood education are “how to function in a school, with a schedule and other people,” rather than the letters and numbers.

        Our school classrooms are not built to allow 6′ social distancing between students. They cannot be retrofitted to support social distancing. Virtual education might work as a stop-gap, with educated, furloughed parents at hand to fill in the gaps. It might work with advanced, literate, organized students. However, it is not a substitute for real education.

        While there have been opinion pieces lamenting different levels of internet speeds between districts, no one has been pointing out that only about 30% of students are “proficient (or above)” on NAEP reading tests. Internet instruction is a text-based exercise. If you can’t read, you can’t access it. If your parents can’t read, they can’t help you. If they don’t read well enough to understand your lesson materials, they can’t help you.

        https://www.wyliecomm.com/2019/03/us-literacy-rate/ At Level 4, that means they can read and write at a proficient, or ninth- to 10th-grade level. Yup, just 12% of Americans can read at what we consider the high school literacy level.

        Most can click to the second page of search results from a library website to identify the author of a book called Ecomyth.

        But most cannot review search results from a library website to identify a book suggesting that the claims made both for and against genetically modified foods are unreliable.

        Note that if you write for these proficient readers, you’ll miss 88% of adults in the United States.

        We have to open the schools. It is not acceptable to deny children access to teachers. Real, live, human teachers.

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      5. ” I think that the greatest lessons in early childhood education are “how to function in a school, with a schedule and other people,” rather than the letters and numbers. ”

        I agree with this goal, and, it certainly can’t be fulfilled with online education. That kind of learning is what some homeschoolers are trying to avoid, and replace with more concentrated academics. I think we might figure out ways of delivering reading instruction remotely (and even that it might work well in some circumstances) but I don’t think we can teach the goal of “get along with people” virtually. The interface almost guarantees that we will feel humanly disconnected in ways that interfere with human development.

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      6. “Some imagination could make it possible to teach some things, like taking turns, working together, listening to stories, while outside. I think that the greatest lessons in early childhood education are “how to function in a school, with a schedule and other people,” rather than the letters and numbers.”

        Sure, for a while and on some days. I am not saying kids can never be outdoors, and I don’t know what your area is or your experience with cold.

        But I can tell you as someone who had direct responsibility for getting 24 kids to walk 15 minutes from a school to an after school program in the winter, here in Toronto, there are a lot of hurdles including poor and especially immigrant and refugee kids having the right gear (even my relatively well-off after school kids frequently didn’t. A child whose boots are leaky is in just as poor a position for learning as a child who hasn’t eaten.) Definitely something that can be addressed but the idea that in a Canadian climate you can just take school outside year-round is…a challenge at best.

        I think our schools are much more likely to create smaller pods of kids that do two days one week, three days the next…if the childcare issues can be addressed. I also think there are long-term solutions to the problem if it’s a year or two’s disruption, because you could build some flexibility into the system.

        Of course we’re running the experiment now in Quebec, so we’ll see.

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  10. I liked and shared “Fuck the bread” last week. I put her books in my cart at Amazon and moved them to save for later. Two days later they were all sold out. I’ll get them some other time (or at a library). But I think that’s really great to have an article that speaks to so many people that your books sell out. Still, it would be nice to get the academic prize?

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  11. This is kind of depressing:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/KeithNHumphreys/status/1259828752516706304

    “Most of my great public health colleagues are greatly over-estimating the likelihood that the U.S. can mount a national test, trace, and isolate program as have countries like Germany and South Korea. My friends are mistaking a political-cultural challenge for a technical one”

    “Public health professionals are working out the technical side brilliantly. How many tests? What type? Who makes and processes them? How many health workers are needed for tracing? But solving these technical problems means nothing without widespread political consent”

    “Testing programs depend on all that; they depend on people being so compliant that they will stay home for 14 days because a health worker told them to. Meanwhile, in Detroit last week a grocery store security guard was shot in the head for asking someone to wear a mask.”

    Flint, actually, but point taken.

    “Hard questions public health professionals haven’t answered include “What do you do when millions of Americans refuse to take your tests?” and “What do you do when many of the people you order to isolate, or to close their business, angrily refuse?””

    “That’s why America is more or less going to end up with Swedish coronavirus policy, not because we universally agreed to consciously choose it, but because we couldn’t universally agree – and never have – about fundamental issues surrounding politics and health.”

    There’s also the problem of “rules for me” versus “rules for thee”–i.e. Mayor de Blasio gets to traipse across NYC to his favorite park while you peons need to stay at home or Chris Cuomo being caught out and about while COVID+ (admittedly outside). See also Rand Paul enjoying all of the Senate amenities right up until his positive COVID results came back. There’s been a lot of hypocrisy with regard to rules for the little people versus VIPs–and that’s going to fuel opposition to test-trace-isolate.

    On a happier note–why does it have to be a NATIONAL test/trace/isolate program? People generally have much more trust in their state governments, and the state government has lots of local health and law enforcement employees in a way the federal government does not. The best bet for test/trace/isolate is for it to be done as soon as it can be approved at the state level and then ideally be coordinated federally, rather than waiting for the federal government to figure out a single national plan.

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  12. why does it have to be a NATIONAL test/trace/isolate program?

    Consistency, standards, and resources. Our educational system is done on the haphazard “local” basis, with the predictable haphazard local results. Our citizens shouldn’t have to be at the mercy of crappy good-ol’-boy systems. Whatever flaws that federal regulations have, they are also more visible—and thus more easily remedied—than the local systems.

    Frankly, I have a lot more faith in the federal government than I do in my state, and certainly in my city government. (I like Pritzger, but he’s new. The previous governor was an unmitigated disaster, and the previous few have really sucked—and two of them went to prison, one from each party, so…..matching set). The federal government was the portion of government interested in recognizing women’s rights; smaller units of government not so much. And I’m not interested in having fewer rights as I cross state borders—I want to be a full citizen in my entire nation. Yay, strong federal government! Localism sounds good until you spend more than two hot seconds thinking about it.

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  13. I don’t think we can or will have a national test and trace program. The question is whether we can have one at all with interference from the feds. Take, for example, the stories of how PPE are being acquired (the Illinois health officials back parking lot deal at midnight with a million dollar check being an example).

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  14. If the feds acquire all the tests, testing supplies, and chemicals, even if we have labs to do the tests in WA we won’t be able to. If they distribute aid and resources based on “blue states/red states” we won’t be able to.

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