I have always wondered how the business portion of the Republican Party, who grasps the economic impact that climate change will have on their profits, or the reason why a highly educated workforce is vital to their success can then cozy up to the most shallow and vacuous of candidates and leaders within their party?
That came to mind again today when Kayleigh McEnany, the dim-witted White House Press Secretary, made a supremely stupid comment before the media.
Stating how Donald Trump wanted schools to open during a pandemic she then added “and when he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.”
Trump continues to prove that he is willing to place anything ahead of reason and logic so to better his chances of the election come November. His narrow self-centered focus is what we have come to expect, but what is most disconcerting are the many conservatives who now also readily follow suit. Putting children in the front lines for partisan gain is most unseemly.
To undermine science, as Trump and his supporters have done, is not new. But to actually state it as McEnany did, was nothing short of stunning.
What can not be dismissed is that the damage to children–and the entire nation–was first done when Trump declared that the virus would just go away. Again and again, he has trampled on data and medical facts to smear scientists and professionals who dare to speak the truth about COVID-19. Trump can now prattle on about the damage to kids who are not in school but let us not forget that it was this White House’s abdication of duty to the nation to deal with a pandemic that has brought us to this most concerning place in America.
I’d watched as the president downplayed the outbreak’s severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals. Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death. So every governor went their own way, which is how the United States ended up with such a patchwork response.
So many nationwide actions could have been taken in those early days but weren’t. While other countries were racing ahead with well-coordinated testing regimes, the Trump administration bungled the effort.
Meanwhile, instead of listening to his own public health experts, the president was talking and tweeting like a man more concerned about boosting the stock market or his reelection plans.
I have posted my desire to have our young people educated this fall, with schools open. But if the data and professional advice from the medical community says otherwise, then it will be long-distance learning for the year.
My husband was a college professor for many years in this city. He noted the challenges which instructors will face this fall due to children not being proficient with last year’s classwork. In addition, comes the reality that the economic disparity is playing havoc with remote teaching across our nation.
The digital divide is real. In many districts, the rush to build a remote learning plan began the old-fashioned way, with paper packets — enough to tide kids over while school leaders take stock. Namely, can they provide hardware and Wi-Fi access to every student who needs it?
The answer for many school leaders has been a dispiriting no.
“I would easily say that less than 50% of our students and families have access to either a consistent learning device and/or Internet access,” says Nikolai Vitti, the head of Detroit Public Schools Community District. “I think that’s our greatest challenge right now.”
I remind my readers it was Governor Scott Walker who turned aside federal monies for broadband expansion in our state. In 2012 our state lost $23 million in federal money to expand broadband. Our school children would have much benefited from that federal assistance. It was a colossal and idiotic move from a conservative who thought he could wreck our state, and then use that harshness as a stepping-stone to the Republican nomination and the White House. That idea was undone like a bug on a windshield, thanks to Governor Tony Evers in 2018.
The only thing that did not happen after the anti-science statement by McEnany was out-right laughter from the press. Her statement was absolutely stupid. But the press knows, as we all do, that the gravity of the time we find ourselves requires a determination to make it through to Election Day.
Then we can again vote for leaders who believe in and value science. Even read books!
And so it goes.