| The Soapbox |

De Blasio Needs a Schooling

This is the ugliest face of city and state leadership

M

ayor Bill de Blasio rolled the dreidel in the summer when teachers’ unions were opposing his plan to open schools, and it came out at 3 percent. That is, when the COVID-19 test positivity rates for students reached 3 percent, he assured the unions — against the advice of science — he would close all schools.

The mayor’s announcement last Wednesday that the city has reached that threshold, albeit only according to one metric, put its 1.1 million children out on the streets effective immediately. Well, not exactly out on the streets — there’s telephone and Zoom and dedicated teachers and make-it-work principals — but that’s essentially the outcome.

Now, I’m not personally affected by the move, since private schools may stay open. But if it sounds like I’m opposed to closing schools in this way, that’s because I am.

Not because it goes against science — although it does. The surgeon general, who as the highest-ranking doctor in the country knows a thing or two about medicine, tweeted, “Our review of data over the past several months suggests that kids are as safe or safer in school vs. not.” Keeping schools open was credited for New York City’s success in combating the Spanish Flu in 1918.

Not because 3 percent is a made-up number with no scientific value — although it is. (One of de Blasio’s advisors admitted it was “arbitrary.”) Other states and districts are at 10 percent test positivity rates and have schools open. And even in New York state, the rate in schools is 0.93 percent.

Not because it creates a generation of uneducated kids more likely to turn toward crime and government assistance — although it does. Not because it creates social media resentment against yeshivos — although it does. Not because school closures are cited as a prime reason that a tenth of city households have left the city since March — although it is.

The reason it irks me is because it shows where de Blasio’s loyalties lie. Not with the kids, but with the teachers’ union, and their money and campaign volunteers.

This is the ugliest face of city and state leadership.

Did I say leadership?

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 837)

 

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