DaTechGuy off DaRadio Livestream 49 Black Lives that Didn’t Matter to the NBA Edition 3 PM EST

Today on DaTechGuy off DaRadio we’re going to have a lot to talk about the topics so far

  1. the 49 Black Lives that didn’t matter to the NBA/NFL/NHL & MLB enough to boycott anything
  2. The Rittenhouse Method of not getting shot by police.
  3. Riots Outside the White House house grounds vs Ave Maria inside White House
  4. Pat Austin on the 1st week of Covid School in practice.

It will all be here at DaTechGuy off DaRadio, you can watch it here at 3 PM EST (the placeholder is last week’s show)

Hope to see you there.

fyi I’ll be a guest on Fault Lines radio in DC and KC this Thursday between 9 & 10 EST talking election, RNC and more

Report from Louisiana: Phase 2, Hybrid School

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Louisiana is number 1 in cases per capita in the nation for Covid-19.  Governor John Bel Edwards has implemented a mask mandate across the state, closed bars, and continues to limit occupancy in restaurants. We are in Phase 2 of reopening for a few more weeks.

Meanwhile, schools are opening. This model looks very different from parish to parish. Most districts have delayed opening of school by a few days or a couple of weeks. Some districts are going virtual only for a period of time while others are using a hybrid model.

I’ve written a great deal about teacher anxiety, and maybe I need to just step away from the computer and the news for a while, because the anxiety is very real to me. What is intolerable to me, however, is the condescension I get over this. How dare anyone judge my feelings and fears. There are several factors that contribute to my fears of bringing Covid home from school to my family; absolutely nobody has the right to judge me for that.

There is a great deal of pressure on teachers right now to be silent about those anxieties, even to the point of reprimand from their administrators. This has not happened to me, but it has happened to someone I know. As teachers, we are expected to put on an enthusiastic face, all optimism and excitement, in order to quell the fears and anxieties of our students. I understand this, and it makes sense (well, not the reprimand). Teachers should never cause anxiety for their students on something like this! As professionals, we know this. Still, it doesn’t mean that in our personal and private lives, we don’t have that fear.

My district is one that is going to try the hybrid model. My day will begin at 6:55 in the classroom receiving students for breakfast, which will be delivered from the cafeteria. When they leave to go to their first class at 7:30, I will have to clean and sanitize the desks. I will have to clean and sanitize desks and computers between each class change throughout the day, as well as any high touch surfaces like door handles, pencil sharpeners, etc. I’ll need to ensure that students sit in the appropriate A/B desk assigned to them for the purpose of contact tracing should someone become infected. Students will eat lunch in my room, and we will have to sanitize desks after that, too.  I’ll have to leave my room by 2:30 everyday (school ends at 2:15) so that the room can be cleaned and sanitized by the custodial staff with the foggers.

In between all of this cleaning, sanitizing, and care, I’ll have to somehow teach the standards of my ELA curriculum, and prepare and upload virtual lessons for the “at home” kids who will be in class the next day. At this point, that almost seems secondary, doesn’t it?

My plan is to do all work 100% digital; I’m going to avoid touching paper and passing papers around. We will do the majority of our work in Google Classroom. When I come home, I’ll leave my shoes outside, shower and change clothes immediately. Overreaction? Maybe. Maybe not. I’d rather be sure.

Louisiana, all across the state, has a very high community spread – it’s anywhere from 94% to 98%, depending on the day. Under the mask mandate, we do seem to be leveling off a bit and hospitalizations are down slightly. The trend is good. There are many, many people who oppose the mask mandate and simply refuse to do it; you’ll see them with masks hanging from one ear, pulled below the nose, under the chin….you’ve seen them. Maybe you ARE them. Whether you believe they work or don’t, just do it. Wear the mask. See if it helps.

As schools across the country have opened, Covid exposures are being reported. Sometimes as “outbreaks” when only a couple of kids have been exposed and are just fine, really. I mean, you have to read these things and make your own judgments. In the Atlanta school with the crowded halls and few kids wearing masks we all saw in that viral photo is reporting nine exposures. The school is closed for two days and is doing virtual instruction. There was no mask mandate in place for that district.

I personally know two teachers who have retired or resigned from our district because of fear of Covid. I am certain there are more. I’ve seen the comments on social media: “Good! Make room for younger teachers!”  Well, no. One of these people IS a young, very gifted STEM teacher. The other is an experienced math teacher who is regarded as one of the top math teachers in our parish. These resignations are a loss to our profession.

So, going forward, I think the point is this. We need to be tolerant of each other’s fears and anxieties. This is all unprecedented and people have heath issues about which you may not be aware and are in no position to judge. We need to be a little patient with teachers too. Yes, it’s true that workers have been out there doing their jobs since March: law enforcement, heath care professionals, store clerks, etc., but as I’ve said before, teachers are a little different in that we are in a closed, unventilated room with up to thirty-three (sometimes more) students. Multiply that by however many classes, three in my case, and we are exposed to nearly 100 kids a day in close contact. It’s daunting.

Be patient with us teachers. Be kind. Be helpful. If your kids are sick or exposed, keep them home.

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.

Report from Louisiana: National Anxiety over Return to Schools

By: Pat Austin

As we begin to explore strategies to reopen school this fall, teachers across the country are experiencing anxiety about their own safety, that of their students, and that of their own families. It is an agonizing position.

Many teachers feel they must choose between their health, and the health of their family, or their career.

Teachers are collecting Lysol wipes, pricing room foggers for sanitation, and stockpiling gloves and masks. Some are collecting page protectors that can be sanitized and plastic pencil cases.

Let’s be clear. If we are talking about putting pencils in individual plastic boxes so nobody else touches them, if we are worried about getting Coronavirus from a pencil, we have already lost this debate.

This back-to-school debate has exploded since the President spoke last week and said that schools must reopen or risk losing funding. I’ve been reading one article and study after another all week long, and they keep on coming.

Districts across the country are trying to figure out how to do this safely. It is a Herculean and perhaps impossible task and I do not envy these decision makers.

What absolutely must be done is that each community must decide if opening school is safe for them; to do this there must be low community spread of the virus. Currently, Louisiana has a 97% community spread.  As of this writing, cases are climbing as are hospitalizations.

Across the country, it is estimated that at least one-fourth of our teachers are 50 years old or older. Many teachers are themselves in a high-risk group and many more live with someone who is. While teachers are worried about their students, we are also worried about the health and safety of our own families.

For some teachers, a return to the classroom would also mean self-quarantine from their elderly parents to avoid risk of exposing them as well.

And yes, it is true that essential workers have been on the job for months. But unlike a grocery cashier, a delivery driver, or even a doctor or nurse, a teacher will be confined in a classroom with 25 or more students every single day for at least seven hours. Many of these classrooms are in older buildings with poor ventilation and windows that cannot be opened.

We are looking at returning to school with daily temperature checks of students and staff, seven hours in face masks, and a barrage of cleaning chemicals and heavy sanitation measures. Students will have to keep six feet apart (maybe three feet with masks, but I’d prefer six), there can be no sharing of materials like pencils or Chomebooks (what about library books?). Hand washing has been recommended every two hours. How many portable hand washing stations will that mean for a school with 1200 students or more?

And  all that hand washing goes right out the window once the kid pulls out his cellphone, doesn’t it?

It’s all very dystopian.

We can’t let our overwhelming desire for a normal return cloud our better judgement for safety of all of us.

Teachers across the country have come up with some sensible strategies, and while they are not always easy to do, some of them make sense, like keeping upper grades virtual for nine weeks, or until this is under control, and using our buildings and classrooms for lower grades where kids are less at risk, and for kids needing special services. This would enable classes to be quite small and spread out.

Teachers have a lot of questions and here are just a few of mine:

1. Who is going to wipe down my room between classes every day? Where will all of these disinfectant wipes come from? I haven’t seen any since March. Will we use bleach? How will this affect kids with asthma?

2. Will my classes truly be 10 to 15 students? I normally have 25 or more and we are literally on top of each other in my small room.

3.  Under our proposed Phase 2 hybrid model students will be on an A/B schedule and attend every other Friday. If little Johnny shows up on the wrong Friday, are we sending him home? Keeping him? In class? Who will watch him?

4.  Will there be an isolation room for kids with fever or symptoms to stay until a parent comes to get them?

5. Will there be daily temperature checks? At the front door or in homeroom? Once an infected person is in the building, what’s the point? By the time he gets to homeroom he will have exposed many other people.

6. Who will be quarantined if there is a positive case of COVID-19 in a classroom? For how long?

7. If students have to eat lunch in the classroom, masks will be off and there will be much talking; exposure will still be high. When will the teacher get a break?

8. When the inevitable teacher shortage comes due to early retirements and illness, where will all of the subs come from? Subs are often in high risk categories themselves.

9. Will teachers be required to cover classes when there are no subs?

10.  If masks are required, what of the student who shows up without one, wears it improperly, refuses to wear it, takes it off, shoots it across the room, wears a bra cup on his face instead of a mask, etc. Are we to be mask police, too?

11. What will be done to improve ventilation in classrooms with windows sealed shut?

12. How do we ensure students are washing hands every two hours as the CDC guidelines, and the Louisiana Strong Start guidelines suggest? Will there be handwashing stations throughout the schools? Hand sanitizer stations?

13.  Will schools be provided extra personnel to manage all of this?

I feel like I work at the absolute best high school in the world and I work for the best administrators ever born — no doubt. And our students? They are solid gold; they are loving, kind, wonderful kids and we all feel like family. I want normal school. Don’t be confused. I want normal school. I want to look my students in the eyes, I want to be able to tell if they are okay, and I want to help them when they need me to. I want to keep that crate of snacks for the hungry ones, and I want explain a concept in class so that everyone understands what we are learning and why. I love my kids. I love the hugs in the hall, the high-fives, the ones that come stop in on their way to the bathroom or office just to say hi.

School gives me joy. But how can we have that if we are worried about dying from a pencil?

How?

Here is a short list of some of the things I’ve been reading this week; it’s not homework, you don’t have to read them. But I decided I wanted to collect them in one place, so here they are.

Further Reading:

I Don’t Want to go Back: Many Teachers Are Fearful and Angry over Pressure to Return. (New York Times, 7/11/2020).

“Teachers say crucial questions about how schools will stay clean, keep students physically distanced and prevent further spread of the virus have not been answered. And they feel that their own lives, and those of the family members they come home to, are at stake.”

E-Learning is Inevitable for US High Schools Next Year (Medium, 7/10/2020)

“However, the only way to eliminate the risk of transmission during in-person school would be to know with certainty that no one who enters the building is COVID-19 positive. Unless schools can accurately test every person who enters the building every day with real-time results, the spread of COVID-19 in schools will occur and that type of real-time accurate testing capacity will not be possible by this fall for any school let alone all schools.”

Epidemiologist: Schools Can Open Safely, and Here’s How. (Sherman, TX Herald Democrat, 7/11/2020)

“The focus should be on protecting teachers. It begins with a robust testing program, so they feel safe in the classroom. We know that uncertainty about one’s health and the health of others makes it difficult to feel confident enough to return to work.”

No One Wins, but No One Dies: What School Must Look Like… (The Suitcase Scholar, 7/9/2020)

Because no matter how much you want this school year to look like any other school year, it can not and it will not. If we want to accomplish all three of these goals, here’s how it can be done…

How to Reopen Schools: What Science and Other Countries Teach Us (New York Times, 7/11/2020)

“As school districts across the United States consider whether and how to restart in-person classes, their challenge is complicated by a pair of fundamental uncertainties: No nation has tried to send children back to school with the virus raging at levels like America’s, and the scientific research about transmission in classrooms is limited.”

Nobody Asked Me: A Teacher’s Opinion on School Reopening (Teacher Life Blog, 7/9/2020)

“Remote learning isn’t most people’s first choice, but it is a safer solution in the meantime, while we figure out this global health crisis. It is also hard to imagine how much learning would be taking place in the classroom anyway after they wait in their 75 foot long lines to wash their hands for 20 seconds multiple times a day. School days are already crammed full and now we will be adding in disinfecting constantly, monitoring for symptoms, sending kids to “quarantine”, trying to get ahold of parents, dealing with masks, giving “mask breaks”, etc.”

Study of School Reopening Models and Implementation Approaches During the Covid-19 Pandemic (Covid-19 Literature Report Team whitepaper PDF, 7/6/2020)

“This document is a brief summary of the models and implementation approaches to re-opening schools that focuses on the approaches used in 15 countries for which we were able to identify data.”

One in Four Teachers at Greater Risk from Coronavirus (CNN, 7/10/2020)

“Nearly 1.5 million teachers are at higher risk of serious illness if they contract coronavirus, according to an analysis released Friday evening. These teachers and instructors, about 24% of the total, suffer from health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity, or are older than age 65, which make them more vulnerable, the Kaiser Family Foundation report found.”

These Arizona Teachers Shared a Classroom for Summer School: All 3 contracted Covid-19, 1 died. (USA Today, 7/10/2020)

“The educators decided to teach virtually while together in the same classroom, but took what they thought were extensive measures: They wore masks, they disinfected equipment and kept distance between each other.”

The Case Against Reopening Schools During the Pandemic: by a Fifth Grade Teacher (Washington Post, 7/10/2020)

“Safety is the prerequisite for all learning. Ordinarily, we offer hugs and reassurance when a child is upset. We encourage students to walk their peers to the nurse’s office when they get injured on the playing field. We give high-fives and pats on the back when students achieve their goals. We provide private spaces for students to share confidential information, or to de-escalate from distress. In a social-distancing school setting, everything is inverted. Closeness and warmth are now dangerous. Students and teachers must remain hypervigilant, watching for face mask violations, friends too near, an uncovered cough, unwashed hands, and unsanitized surfaces.”

Nation’s Pediatricians Walk Back Support for In-Person School (NPR, 7/10/2020)

“The American Academy of Pediatrics once again plunged into the growing debate over school reopening with a strong new statement Friday, making clear that while in-person school provides crucial benefits to children, “Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics.” The statement also said that “science and community circumstances must guide decision-making.”

Covid-19 is as Deadly and Dangerous as Ever. (Medium, 7/8/2020)

“The idea that Covid-19 is becoming less dangerous or deadly is false, the latest data reveals. “The virus is as lethal as ever,” researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute said in a statement. “Deaths and hospitalizations are rising in hot spots around the country. Exactly as public health experts feared.”

Mounting Evidence Suggests Coronavirus is Airborne–but Health Advice has not Caught Up. (Scientific American, 7/8/2020)

“Converging lines of evidence indicate that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, can pass from person to person in tiny droplets called aerosols that waft through the air and accumulate over time. After months of debate about whether people can transmit the virus through exhaled air, there is growing concern among scientists about this transmission route.”

Large Antibody Study Adds to Evidence Herd Immunity to Covid-19 is Unachievable (FOX-17, “Nashville, 7/6/2020)

To achieve what epidemiologists call herd immunity, mathematical modelers suggest at least between 60% and 70% of people would need to be immune to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two paths to herd immunity for COVID-19: vaccines and infection. Vaccines would be the ideal approach, though experts say its effects can wane over time. Another path would be infection, but there’s much still unknown about COVID-19, including if having the virus makes a person immune to future infection.”

Spike in Cornavirus Cases Means some Schools Won’t Open at all this Fall (EdSource, 7/10/2020)

“As coronavirus cases spike across California, some school districts are making the decision to keep campuses closed to most students and to educate them online next school year. Districts in Los Angeles County, which has more coronavirus cases than any county in the state, are preparing for the possibility of classes being completely online at the start of the school year. In neighboring San Bernardino County, its school district this week announced classes would resume next month online.”

I’m an Epidemiologist and a dad: Here’s Why I think schools should Reopen (Vox, 7/9/2020)

The same will likely be true in schools. The potential risk to teachers, therefore, goes beyond the classroom. Staff risk in schools likely looks similar to the risk of any adult working in a crowded indoor environment during the pandemic. School opening plans must consider teacher safety in addition to the well-being of students.

Chicago teachers demand smaller class size by striking, but enrollment is already declining

Chicago Teachers Union member at a 2012 Occupy Chicago rally–classes were in session that day

By John Ruberry

Chicago Teachers Union members are on strike again, 300,000 students and their parents have to reshuffle their weekday routines. 

In Chicago and many other big-cities, school is more than being an educational institution. Three quarters of Chicago Public Schools students qualify for government paid-for or subsidized lunches, many also qualify for breakfasts under similar circumstances. 

Or maybe schools in Chicago are less than being an educational institution as barely one-in-four students read at grade level, despite most schools having “College Predatory” and “Excellence” in their names. But CPS schools serve, even when there isn’t a strike, sadly as day center centers.

While meals are still being provided at CPS schools since the strike began last week, the walkout is hurting those that the Chicago Teachers Union purports to represent, the kids and their families. Parents are taking time off work to watch their children. Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has offered teachers a 16 percent pay raise, but union leaders say that they are striking for, wait for it, the kids and their hard-pressed parents.

On the other hand, the CTU is advocating for a financial program for teachers and support staff so they can purchase a home in Chicago. Wait, aren’t Chicago taxpayers paying teachers and other CPS employees so they can buy a home? There is plenty of affordable housing in Chicago, just not so much in the fashionable neighborhoods on the lakefront.

The quick reaction to the strike is that Chicago has no more money, as the city is essentially bankrupt due to unfunded public worker pension obligations, including those for teachers. But somehow the cash to end the strike will be “found,” although it will likely involve borrowing from Judas so the city can rob Peter to pay Paul. If that last sentence doesn’t make sense then you are not from Chicago

One of the CTU’s key demands is a familiar one, smaller class size. But that issue should be taking care of itself as for three straight years CPS enrollment has dropped by 10,000. Twenty-six CPS high schools have fewer than 270 students and two of them fewer than 100. These schools were built to accommodate much larger enrollments. But that didn’t stop CPS from opening a new high school in Englewood, a neighborhood whose population has dropped by two-thirds since 1960.

And Chicago’s overall population is declining, leading the charge of the Illinois Exodus that has been going on for five years now

Incompetent and corrupt government reaps a poor harvest. And the money that Lightfoot will need to “find” to end the Chicago teachers strike will hasten the Exodus. And fewer taxpayers means less money.

John Ruberry blogs from the Chicago area at Marathon Pundit.

If Only she wore a “Little Drag Queen” shirt to school instead: Update (or not?) Update NOT

Update: Well I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is apparently the school in question and the district in particular has not in fact lost their minds and that the initial information concerning this story was misrepresented to the author in question.

We do a lot of writing and when one of the Groksters gets it wrong, an apology is required.  Tonite, it is my turn and I apologize to Superintended Steve Tucker, Principal Eric Johnson, and Teacher Lindsey Packer.  I publicized bad information – information for which I fell for. 

Skip, being an honorable man is, unlike ABC is not running away from the difficult task of correcting the record nor the embarrassment of admiting the source of the misinformation which will leave a much larger personal mark than any reporting error.

 Subsequent to my asking my question in her FB post, her post was deleted. She won’t return my calls.
I am left to apologize to all concerned and all of the GraniteGrok readers – 
I got the story wrong. I also apologize to the other Groksters as the credibility of GraniteGrok as been besmirched which does affect them.  It’s all on me – this whole thing has turned out to be a fraud when I truly believed it was true.

The bad news is of course since I picked up the story I am left to apologize as well, I’ve deleted all of the quotes from the base post and put “strikethrough” on any information that is incorrect. I know I could have simply re-written the post but that would distort the record and if I’m admitting to a mistake it’s important to know the mistake I’m admitting to.

So I must join Skip in his apology while remaining pleased that for once the story of a school being a bad actor is wrong.

Closing thought: There have been a large spat of “hate crime hoaxes” over the years, have you ever noticed that those who sounded the trumpet of outrage on them the loudest never rejoice that the crimes did not take place?


Update: Got a heads up that suggests there might be less to this than meets the eye, While that might be embarrassing for me it would be delightful as it would indicate that insanity does not reign at the school in question and that’s more important that a post getting hits. I don’t believe in pulling posts as it changes the record so for now I’m going to put the base post under a “more” tag until I get more data. For now we’ll wait and see and if a correction is warranted I’ll update the post with it.

Continue reading “If Only she wore a “Little Drag Queen” shirt to school instead: Update (or not?) Update NOT”

Report from Louisiana: Locking Up Cell Phones

The new school year is now underway and with it come all of the typical classroom management issues that frustrate many teachers, especially at the middle and high school level.

One of those problems is cell phones. Since the cell phone has become as common as the Number 2 pencil teachers have been struggling to either incorporate the technology into the lesson or ban the devices altogether. There seems to be no middle ground as most teenagers simply can not deny the lure of social media or games on the phone.
It’s so much more entertaining to participate in an ongoing game of pool on the phone with a friend than listen to that history lecture.

In Bossier Parish, Louisiana, one high school English teacher used the first day of school to conduct an experiment: “Students measured how often they received notifications on their cell phones, from text messages, to phone calls, to news alerts, to Snapchat pings,” and by the end of the day there had been 868 distractions, or notifications, from student devices.

How can teachers compete against this?

Benton High School in Bossier City, Louisiana has found a way. The school purchased Yondr pouches, such as those used at some concerts. At the beginning of the school day students are required to put their phones in the pouch and there it stays until the end of the day when the pouches are unlocked as students leave the building. Students rent the pouches for the year and retain possession of the pouch/phone all day.

While teachers celebrate this development, students are nonplussed. Many feel like they are being punished for the sins of others.

As of now, two Bossier Parish schools are participating in this experiment, but teachers across the parish are hoping it catches on. The cell phone has moved beyond a classroom management problem. Many students pull out the phone and check messages simply as an automatic reflex these days and hey, while there, let’s take a cute selfie, and check that email, and check that new YouTube video real quick.

I’m curious to see how this pilot program works. I’m not clear on what happens if a student is caught with a second phone; many students have more than one phone and routinely carry a “throwdown phone” in case a teacher tries to take their device up.

It would all be much more ideal if students just had the willpower to keep the devices put away, but we are talking about teenagers and when many adults can’t even do this, how can we expect kids to?