Report from Louisiana: Education Disparity during Covid Closure

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – One of the issues this pandemic has exposed has been the complete and utter lack of preparedness by education systems for such an event. Granted, nobody could have expected a nationwide shutdown of the economy and stay-at-home orders for weeks on end. But, in Louisiana at least, this is not completely without precedent. When Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans, we dealt with extended school closures in specific areas of the state. The difference, of course, as far as education goes at least, is that those displaced students had other school systems still in operation where they could transfer. That is not the case now.

What has emerged is a patchwork of fixes and plans between school systems. Each district is working in different ways to educate their students and there is little uniformity between systems much less within each individual district.

The result is that some students are receiving an education and others are not. The Advocate reports on survey results by the state Department of Education:

Educators said the coronavirus pandemic has exposed a national digital divide that is especially jarring in a state like Louisiana, where about two-thirds of students — nearly 500,000 youngsters — live in low-income households.

When the shutdown order came, the school in which I teach, for example, was winding up Spring Break. We walked out of our classrooms that previous Friday fully expecting to return in ten days. My classroom right now is exactly as I left it on March 6.

School districts across the nation scrambled to enact a plan. Nobody knew how long we would be closed. Students did not leave the campus with textbooks, work packets, or technology.

In a Title I school, like mine, the problems are compounded by the fact that many of our students do not have home computers or Wi-Fi.  But, in another school across town, kids have Wi-Fi, strong parental support, and personal computers.  

What were districts to do? How can you level this field over night?

We did the best we could, I guess. We set up dates where students could come to the school and sign out Chromebooks if they needed technology, but that doesn’t solve the Wi-Fi problem. Some students were given copied work packets. We enacted a “do no harm” policy where students can be graded on the work they turn in, but can’t be given a zero for work they don’t do, and overall a student’s grade can not go down from what it was on March 6.

Is this ideal?  Nope. But what’s the answer?

And how do you prepare for something like this?

Some school districts across the country have set up mobile Wi-Fi hotspots in buses parked in the neighborhoods, but obviously this has not been a uniform practice.

According to the survey:

Officials in the East Baton Rouge Parish school district told the state that 55% of their students lack access to a laptop; Central, 50%; Jefferson Parish, 40%; Livingston Parish, 38%; St. John the Baptist Parish, 65%; West Baton Rouge Parish, 65%; and St. Landry Parish, 60%.

At the other end of the spectrum for students lacking laptops is Ascension Parish, 1%; Lafayette Parish, 20%; Orleans Parish, 20%; St. Bernard Parish , 15%; St. Charles Parish, 5%; Plaquemines Parish, 10% and Zachary, 0%.

The shortage is even worse in rural areas, where five mostly north Louisiana school districts say 75% or more of their students lack access to a laptop or tablet at home.

Governor Edwards is planning to begin to reopen Louisiana for business at the end of the week and will announce his plans during a press conference later today. He has cautioned residents to temper their expectations and notes that this will be a very gradual process.

One of the things we certainly must address in the near future is to develop some kind of emergency plan that does not contribute to the already huge disparities in our education systems. While it’s impossible to prepare for what you don’t know, it is possible, now that we DO know, to create some kind of contingency plan for our students.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Opinion: I think CNN Believes Tara Reade’s Charges vs Biden are True

I have to give the MSM in general and CNN in particular credit. Every time I think they are incapable of surprising me in terms of how low they will go they manage to surprise me.

To wit:

This is actually even worse than the whole: “Beware of the Leopard “ business that MSNBC played with their Morning Joe Jeffrey Epstein clip during Election 2016. You could find it if you jumped through hoops, these guys have removed this clip from a public archive where it has been presumably for decades.

The embarrassment of this clip being uncovered by the MRC from their own archives actually forced CNN to cover the story on air for the very 1st time this weekend. That was telling but the removal of this clip without comment is more so.

If they thought that this clip was no big deal, if they thought that the evidence in it was at best circumstantial, which it might be considered, then they would have left it be.

But they took the proactive stance to have it removed from Googleplay, and yes I said proactive because unlike Hotair I’m not going to give them the benefit of the doubt here:

I originally had reservations about the episode because the caller isn’t identified by name and she doesn’t specifically mention which “prominent senator” her daughter worked for or what her “problems” were that prompted her to leave that job. But it’s since been confirmed that Jeanette Altimus did indeed live in San Luis Obispo at that time. It was also the exact period when Tara Reade was leaving Washington. That’s a few too many coincidences to write this off, and Reade has confirmed that it’s her mother’s voice we’re hearing and that she knew her mom had called King’s show.

The real question here is how the show wound up not being listed in the Google Play directory, assuming this isn’t just some bizarre technical glitch. (I have an account and checked myself. It’s not there.)

I suppose, just to be fair, we should at least mention the possibility that either the episodes are mislabeled or the original was never loaded. But the dates of the shows all line up until August 10th, episode 154. And the next entry is dated August 12th, but it’s labeled as episode 155. Again, we’re asking the word “coincidence” to do a lot of heavy lifting to sweep this away as some sort of glitch.

Or to put it another way, if there had been a clip of Christie Blassey Ford’s mom talking calling into a Fox show about her daughter getting assaulted at a party from two decades ago and Fox removed it from their online archive the entire Corona Virus story would disappear from CNN’s airwaves, smothered by their coverage and every single GOP senator would be asked about it.

Of course in fairness every Democrat Senator has been asked about this, but their offices won’t even acknowledge the questions:

Every Democrat in the Senate has refused to acknowledge the sexual assault allegations against 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden that were brought forward by a former staffer, even after new evidence lends credibility to the alleged assault.

The Daily Caller contacted every Democrat in the Senate, asking them if they would even consider the allegations by Biden’s accuser, Tara Reade, who has accused the then-senator of kissing her, touching her and penetrating her with his fingers without her consent in 1993. Each Senate office was given 24 hours to respond but not one did.

Given the proactive move by CNN and the unanimity of the silence of Senate Democrats I am forced to conclude that this is not because they believe Ms. Reade’s accusations to be false, but because they believe them to be true.

Fyi here is the video via The other mccain

Who comments:

This is far more solid corroboration for Reade’s claim against Biden than there was for any of Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers, yet the media devoted round-the-clock coverage to the Kavanaugh accusations. Scott Whitlock at the Media Research Center asks:

Journalists have largely buried this story. ABC, NBC and CNN have not reported on it AT ALL. CBS, PBS and MSNBC have offered very minimal coverage. How long will journalists keep covering up this explosive story?

How long, indeed?

This is why I no longer give Joe Biden the benefit of the doubt here.

Update: CNN is denying it did anything with the Larry King stuff, here is my response

After all after “Hands up Don’t shoot”, the Covington Kids and their regularly featuring the creepy porn lawyer why on earth would I presume their denial is true?

DaTechGuy off DaRadio Midnight Court Livestream: Today Tara Reade CNN Larry King and Googleplay 12:35 AM EST

Today’s podcast talks about the incredible coincidence of an episode of Larry King from 20 years ago that the MRC found with corroborating evidence of Tara Reade’s accusation vs Joe Biden that was abruptly pulled from Googleplay.

Watch the podcast live here

My post on the subject is here.