This video speaks for itself!
This video speaks for itself!
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Wednesday July 15, 2020 · 5:13 PM EDT
I don’t last too long in “closed Facebook groups” on community/local issues because usually the admins prohibit political discussion in these forums, on the sensible assumption that these would otherwise degenerate into vitriolic bloodbaths, permanently hampering or killing all discussion. I have nothing but awe and admiration for my friends who manage to navigate such forums with grace and equanimity, but I’ve simply accepted that it would probably be best if I didn’t even try to do that at this point.
Having said that, I’ve managed to lurk around one recently, involving a group of suburban parents—Republicans and Democrats--trying to intelligently address the subject of our township’s plans to open up our public schools in six weeks. After a while you can discern the political leanings of some of the posters, but the one thing they have in common is that they are all very, very concerned about their kids. And they are completely freaked out about how schools will plan to reopen this fall.
I suspect my local “closed group” is being mirrored by other, similar groups in practically every school district in the country. In the context of what we’ve been hearing from the Trump administration—or rather what we’ve not been hearing—I have to think that Donald Trump and his billionaire sycophant, Betsy DeVos, our current Secretary of Education, have absolutely no clue about what is metastasizing in the fevered swamps of American parents of school-age children right now in this country, or its potential to explode in a wave of electoral anger that could dwarf what occurred to the Republican Party in 2018.
I’m talking about a thermonuclear, cataclysmic, event of raw, unbridled voter fury. I’m talking about an existential, political wipe-out of Biblical proportions. A tsunami, if you will.
The most generous characterization of the Trump administration’s approach towards the situation facing our public schools in less than two months—six weeks or less, in fact, for many schools, including ones in Texas-- is one of willful blindness, suggestive of an astonishing degree of deliberate, magical thinking-- that imagines an idyllic sequence of cause and effect, where these schools will miraculously reopen, filled with rows of smiling teens, pre-teens, elementary schoolers and their teachers, happy to share and mingle in their wondrous educational experience in the face of this horrific and unprecedented health crisis.
It is a fantasy world, reminiscent of a Disney (or possibly early Spielberg) film, where the messy issues of the Covid-19 pandemic are swept aside and resolved, by the force and will of the Good Leader and his Education Secretary. Where all that is perfect and hoped for incredibly comes to pass, simply as a result of their willing it to occur. In this magical space, suspended like a gossamer soap bubble in time, pesky “social distancing” problems are easily resolved or mere afterthoughts, piddling problems capable of swift and effective solutions, as students and teachers "knuckle it through" together, bravely swinging open their doors to the unflinching praise of millions of parents of happy, rosy-cheeked school-age children.
Let me explain what I think is going to happen.
I think that for the next six weeks, depending on where you live, there is going to be an intense debate among parents going back and forth about just how much schools should open. I think that debate will be shaded by the pronouncements of local health departments, political affiliations, and school board compositions, by preconceptions, some rigid, some flexible, about the scope of the risk involved and how it can be mitigated, or even whether it should be a concern.
That debate will be shaped by conflicts between parents of small children, who are desperately counting on being able to return to work, and those of children old enough to stay home on their own; by whether the local consensus is for online or in-person learning, or some hybrid of both (which will in turn be influenced by what the wealthier and classier school district down the road is doing); between two-income families and those with stay-at-home mothers or fathers; between parents with special needs children who cannot learn a great deal online, and those with children who adapted easily and even cheerfully to online teaching formats; between those parents who cannot afford Internet access or Google-drive compatible tablets and those who can; between parents whose children are diabetic or immuno-compromised and parents whose sole concern for their child revolves around the fall football season; between those parents with children who simply came home from college and cheerfully plopped down again in their bedrooms last spring when forced to go online, and parents with children in tony private schools and elite colleges who cannot understand why they’re being asked to pay $75,000 per year so their child can Zoom-chat with a teacher three thousand miles away.
All of these swirling concerns will be dumped on underpaid, overstressed teachers and professors who will be forced to cope not only with the health consequences but to adapt new teaching methods to which they may not be suited, not to mention thoroughly besieged and cash-strapped school and college administrators who must endure the political consequences of their decisions.
But, rest assured, plans will be settled upon, procedures will be implemented, and decisions will be made, as always, of course, subject to the ongoing aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic (which by September promises to remain quite out of control). In fact all this is happening right now, everywhere as we speak, and has been happening for months. Because every school district, it seems, is on its own. They have received one simplistic edict from Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education: to reopen, with physical attendance, at all costs.
And after all those plans are made, and those districts that opted for in-person learning have opened their doors for two weeks, one child is going to come to school sick. Maybe whoever he/she goes home to will fall ill. Someone, either a child, a teacher or family member, at some point, will get very sick, and someone may even be hospitalized and die. That news will fly across social media at speeds we can scarcely contemplate. In a matter of hours parents will be screaming at school administrators, at teachers, even at each other, pointing fingers and asking why this particular child was permitted in the school at all. Entire classes will be quarantined and the schools shut down and deep-cleaned. People who had returned to work, counting on their kids being in class during the day, will have to come home to take care of their children. In this Hobbesian work environment Americans are facing, many of them will be fired or let go by employers because of this. Two weeks later, the school reopens, and the same thing happens again. Not only in public schools, but at those nice colleges as well.
And then, suddenly it’s October, and despite all the best laid plans, things are shutting down again. Only a few schools, mostly in outlying, rural areas, remain open with physical in-presence instruction. American parents are helpless and they are infuriated. Infuriated beyond measure. Their kids are home, and although the teachers are making truly heroic efforts, it’s the same substandard instruction. Some parents are infuriated that the schools had to close again, some are infuriated that they were ever opened in the first place. But everyone is angry, angrier than they have ever been in their lives about anything.
Let’s just stop there, because this is an important point, and it relates to what I’ve been seeing in this Facebook group. It’s something that I think people like Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos are constitutionally incapable of appreciating because of who and what they are. Trump, as we all know, is a product of privileged, private schools where he was ferried along thanks to his father’s wealth, cheating his way into Wharton. DeVos is a scion of a rapacious billionaire family that essentially tries to suck the blood out of public education to enrich their private-school, for-profit corporate interests and obscure religious convictions. Neither appears to have any conception of the intensity which ordinary Americans view their childrens’ futures, because neither have had to work for anything in their lives, least of all in providing for their children.
But these parents—both Republicans and Democrats alike—that I’m seeing on Facebook are intimately wrapped up in every detail of their kids’ futures. They are attentive—they are exacting. They inform themselves like crazy, reading and sharing everything. Many, if not most have spent enormous amounts of time and sacrifice trying to provide their children the best possible futures (some have gone quite overboard in fact, but that’s another subject). Their children are the most important thing to them, by far. There is no sacrifice many of these parents would forego for their children, even if it meant sacrificing their own lives.
That’s how wrapped up these parents are in this school reopening issue. It’s more than just simply reopening schools, it’s their lives, hopes and dreams for their children that are being sacrificed during this pandemic. Nothing is more important to them--even politics.
Yes, when this “reopen at all costs” bubble bursts and the scope of the school calamity crashing down around them comes into full focus, some of those Republican parents will blame the media, or Democrats, or Anthony Fauci or anyone but Donald Trump for overreacting to the pandemic, for the fact that their kids cannot attend school, and maybe even for the fact that they can’t go back to work. There are some people in this country, maybe even 35-40%, who are so brainwashed by right-wing media that they won’t be able to relate the catastrophe in the schools to the administration’s (and the GOP-controlled Senate’s) complete lack of assistance or guidance in simply urging schools to “reopen, or else.”
But those aren’t the parents I’m seeing in this Facebook group, at least in this suburban enclave. They are simply going to be furious, furious at the disruption to their lives, and furious at the heedless, unthinking destruction of their childrens’ futures. Many are going to comprehend then and only then what the the wholesale folly of attempting to reopening the U.S. economy without proper deference and regard to a deadly viral pandemic has truly wrought. They’re going to take out that fury on those who did nothing, who offered no financial assistance to either ordinary Americans or the schools where they send their children. Those who offered no help or guidance--just a stupid, mindless and insensitive exhortation to fully open the schools, and the consequences be damned.
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Florida’s new Forced Parental Consent Law was signed by Governor DeSantis on June 30th. Per TBAF Board Member April McGrath, "This law is just another way for the government to interfere with our right to obtain a safe abortion."
For teens who cannot involve a parent or legal guardian in their decision, a judicial bypass is their only resort. However, as the Tampa Bay Abortion Fund learned today, the courts still do not have updated documents for minors seeking a judicial bypass.
Meet Jane, 17 and a senior in high school. On her own, she navigated the internet to find resources to help her terminate her pregnancy.
She spoke with a case manager in Texas, a lawyer in Florida, and then an underground transportation network that would drive her to court, to her appointment, help her pick up her prescriptions and safely deliver her home.
When asked if Jane would be safe at home, all she said was, "as long as no one finds out."
For heightened security, her court appointment was made in a nearby county, and she was picked up in her neighborhood, out of sight from her house.
Despite being assigned an attorney, the hearing on Jane's petition was delayed for over a week. When her petition was finally brought to hearing, the judicial bypass paperwork provided by the clerk was out of date and not reflective of the new law. Jane left the courthouse without the judicial bypass she needed to obtain an abortion.
Fortunately for Jane, a special arrangement was later made for the judge to approve an amendment to her paperwork to acknowledge the new law and the need for an additional waiver for consent, so an additional hearing wasn't required. The amendment was hand delivered to Jane’s chosen clinic.
Jane was lucky to have connected with a group that could provide support despite the multiple hurdles that were placed in front of her.
For teens unable to talk to their parents about their pregnancy, there are options and mutual aid organizations are poised to assist where possible.
The struggle that gave birth to this nation was driven by the determination to create a government “by the people, for the people, and of the people”. There was just one flaw in the plan. In the minds of those who led the revolution, “ the people” were white male heterosexuals. And today – well over two hundred years later – very little has changed.
Lesbians, gays, women, African – Americans, Native Americans, anyone not white, male & heterosexual: none of us has yet achieved an equal voice in the political process. Politically and economically we share a common oppression and we must recognize this fact if we’re ever to change our lot.
Think about this for a moment. Those who control the economic and political power are not the majority – repeat that – not the majority. Together WE are the majority. So how then does a minority continue to hold on to its power? Answer: By pitting one group of us against another so that we do not join together to seize the power. Fear-mongering is the weapon they use to ensure we are fearful & suspicious of one another and don’t get wide-spread support when any of us enters the political arena.
When individuals and groups put aside their differences and focus on the common oppression we face, we’ll build alliances so strong that we will seize the political power and then ultimately economic power.
Believe this - a few of your dollars and a few hours of your time together with that of your sisters and brothers can elect those who will truly represent us.
We’ve already seen what has happened because the religious right has made a concerted effort to gain school board seats, city and county commission seats, state offices and judicial seats. The results are what we are living with every day.
Believe this - no issue that separates us is more important than the common oppression and inequality we share. The survival of our democracy depends on each of us.
There is one more thing you can do, especially if you are a younger person considered to be less vulnerable to the COVID19 virus and have the time to do it. Sign up to work the polling place on Election Day. You will be making it possible for more people to vote without having to wait hours to do so and protecting their right to do so. You will be paid to do it!