Robert Hampton, American Renaissance, March 11, 2020
The spread of the coronavirus could be devastating. However, several school districts seem more concerned with protecting “diversity” than students.
Elk Grove Unified, the largest school district in Northern California, didn’t close even after officials learned that a family had been exposed to the virus. A principal wrote the staff:
DO NOT PASS ON THIS INFORMATION TO STUDENTS. We have already had incidents in the upper grades of discrimination/teasing towards Asian students due to the hype.
The district preferred to keep students and parents in the dark so as to spare the possible feelings of Asians. Only when the exposed family tested positive did the district close all schools.
🚨BREAKING NEWS: Elk Grove Unified School District cancels classes for all schools after a family tests positive for #coronavirus. This comes after an internal email surfaced showing school leaders knew a relative was exposed to an infected person & kept that info CONFIDENTIAL. pic.twitter.com/tE032KNNsb
— Marlei Martinez (@MarleiMartinez) March 7, 2020
Washington state has the largest number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the country. However, several Washington school districts won’t close.
“Many of our families rely on our schools and staff for basic needs, including regular meals, health care, and child care,” Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced last week. “If our schools shut down, vulnerable families are at a higher risk of being negatively impacted.”
“Due to issues of equity and access, we cannot provide digital learning opportunities in lieu of in-classroom instruction,” SPS’s announcement added (some students might not have a computer or WiFi). But in its letter to families, the district did assure them it had “resources to combat racism, bias and discrimination”:
We are aware of reports that some of our Asian students have been targeted and discriminated against in connection to COVID-19. This is unacceptable and contrary to our values of racial equity and social justice. In SPS, we are committed to welcoming, safe, and inclusive schools, and we do not tolerate hate speech or acts of discrimination.
Some school districts in the Seattle area have since closed, but Lake Washington School District is still open despite many families’ wishes. A white eighth-grader, Michael Finlayson, launched a petition to close the schools. He’s worried he could infect his mother, who has cerebral palsy. About 53,000 people signed the petition, but the district’s schools remain open.
Washington state’s education officials also “recommended against moving instruction online unless they can ensure equal access for all students, including those with disabilities or without internet access.” “We want to discourage practices that disproportionately impact certain populations, especially those that are more at risk,” Rhett Nelson, a director at Washington’s education department, told the Associated Press. At risk of what?
Oregon’s Hillsboro School District announced it would stay open in spite of one of its students testing positive for the virus: “Our schools are not only places where learning can continue, but where our students can be supported, supervised, and fed, which is a necessity for many families.” Oregon’s Health Authority and Department of Education encourages schools to stay open to avoid “negative impacts to groups facing inequities.”
New York City officials told the New York Times that school closures would be a “last resort.” The paper said schools “double as social service centers for hundreds of thousands of poor students.” According to the Times, something besides coronavirus worries teachers:
Teachers said that, at this point, they were much more concerned about racism and xenophobia directed at Asian students because of the virus’s origins in China than they were with the virus itself.
Lynn Shon, a science teacher at New York City’s Middle School 88, said she was distraught when students claimed the virus originated in bat soup. Evidence suggests bats may be the source of the virus, but Miss Shon explained that this view reflects “internalized racism.”
I had a really challenging conversation with my students on Monday after a few students argued that the origin of the virus was “those people who eat bats” with a tone of disgust. 2/
— Lynn Shon (@lynnshon) March 6, 2020
and an opportunity to teach to media literacy (evaluation of sources- an #ngss SEP), and #xenophobia more broadly. Teachers, I urge you all to take the time to teach students about the science, media literacy, and the internalized racism. 4/
— Lynn Shon (@lynnshon) March 6, 2020
Deirdre Levy, a Filipino special education teacher in Brooklyn, told the Times that she lectured students about bigoted responses to the virus. She responded to critics who said her harangue was propaganda:
Attacking a public school teacher, who is a woman and a person of color does not give you the audacity to call this propaganda. Teaching kids to be calm in times of panic and practicing safety measures when teachers are responsible for their well being, is the healthiest option.
— Deirdre Levy (@deirdrelevy2021) March 9, 2020
Nearly 22 million students eat subsidized meals at school. Most aren’t white. A 2009 study found that 29 percent of white 4th graders were eligible for reduced-cost lunches. No fewer than 74 percent of blacks, 77 percent of Hispanics, and 68 percent of American Indians were.
When schools become social service centers, some teachers think fighting racism and feeding non-whites is more important than public health. Thus, many schools will stay open. More people will get sick. More people will die, especially the poor, uninsured families whom teachers think they’re defending.