Anchorage School District (ASD) announced they would be keeping the public-school system closed to in-person attendance for the first month of the school year starting in a couple weeks, with a possible decision to open completely later this fall.
A cynic would observe the problem goes away on Nov 4 if Biden wins the presidential election, longer should he not.
The excuse given for keeping Anchorage public school students home is safety for students and staff from infection from the Wuhan Flu. This excuse ignores completely the fact that Wuhan impact on K-12 aged children is miniscule at best. No matter to the educrats and members of the teacher’s unions, safety Uber Alles.
Or is it? One of the nationwide things that we have seen during the school shutdown March – May is an uptick in depression, drug and alcohol use, and suicides among school-age students. Shutdowns are incredibly damaging and for 15 solid years before March, every single public health organization recommended against them. And they all had actual science to back that position. In the panic of last March, all that science was discarded.
The other thing the ASD refusal to reopen in-person classes is a direct assault on working families, especially targeting working mothers who will have to stay at home homeschooling their kids. Any other assault on working women of this size and viciousness would be blasted by an outraged media. Here in Anchorage? Crickets.
I saw a short discussion about who in this economy was essential. During the shutdown, we have found that health care workers, care givers, truckers and delivery people of all sorts, store shelf stockers, and manufacturers of personal protective equipment. Are Anchorage teachers telling us they are not essential? Or are they telling us that they are simply better than every single Alaskan who has been on the front lines working during the last five months keeping the lights on in this town. One would be pathetic. The other would be insulting.
Contrast this response with what happened to the 1918 – 1920 Spanish Flu pandemic. A valued reader provided this data with sources.
|1918 Spanish Flu||2020 Wuhan Flu|
|Estimated 20 – 50 million dead worldwide||Estimated 665,000 dead worldwide as of July 31|
|Estimated 675,000 US dead||160,000 US dead by Aug 2020|
|Killed 20 – 30-year olds, more men than women||Killed mostly 65+ elderly, more men than women|
|Social distancing – churches, restaurants, large indoor gatherings, closed. Masks encouraged.||Same|
|Unrest and violence. Letter bombs, anarchists, women gain the right to vote||BLM / AntiFa riots|
|Prohibition passed||400% increase in alcohol sales|
|Schools closed. Some for up to 4 months.||Public schools mostly closed after 5 months. Private schools open.|
What are we to make of all this? Clearly, the decision to keep Anchorage schools is a political one, based on little more than generating a positive outcome for democrats in November. Anchorage teacher’s union members are placing the outcome of an election above the health and well being of their charges. Schools are open internationally. Private schools here in the US are also open. Yet public schools here in Anchorage and nationwide aren’t. There is a reason.
The unions need to be careful as they are well on their way toward making a bulletproof case for vouchers in Alaska, where control of the money is taken from the school districts and the unions and put into the hands of parents, those closest to the children. There has not been a lot of support for that in the legislature over the last few decades but given the number of legislators with children getting jerked around by the Alaska Education Association, I expect that to change a bit. Perhaps even a lot. And now that we have a SCOTUS opinion that will be used to toss the provision in the Alaska Constitution prohibiting public money to parochial schools, we are much closer to vouchers becoming a reality in this state than ever before.
If the AEA wants to keep the public schools closed so as to maximize public pain and push an election result they believe politically favorable to them, be my guest. It will be a Pyrrhic victory at best.
Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.