Heads they win, tails we lose

Many government buildings are still closed, because it’s far from safe, but S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster (a lawyer) said schools will open on Sept 8. He further directed each district to offer both virtual and in-person learning, but how will teachers provide an equal education to both groups, five days a week, for 180 teaching days?

McMaster has no idea, so instead of leadership based on best practices, he directed each district to develop its own solutions, and he gave them two whole days to turn in their homework. What could go wrong?

S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas (a lawyer) gave us a history lesson: President Wilson reopened the economy and sent the children back to school during the flu epidemic of 1919-20, the economy flourished and we got school nurses and child labor laws. Except the excesses of the “Roaring Twenties” led directly to the crash in 1929 and the Great Depression.

The first school nurse was Lina Rogers, hired in 1902. The first national committee on child labor formed in 1904. Wilson did sign a child labor law (1916). It was overturned by the Supreme Court (1918), and real reform didn’t happen until 1938. Wilson made choices based on ideology, not medical data, leading directly to the second wave of influenza that killed another 50 million people worldwide. Sound like anyone you know?

S.C. Sen. Greg Humbree (a lawyer) said if South Korea and Sweden can reopen their schools, we can, too, except Sweden’s numbers are nothing to brag about and South Korea got the epidemic under control before opening its schools. South Korea listened to its doctors, not its lawyers. Humbree said the virtual learning experiment got a D-minus. S.C. third-graders are a full year behind in math and a semester behind in English, but how did he complete such a detailed assessment of a significant sample of rising fourth-graders when the children are not in school? On the other hand, he might be right. The state offered no leadership based on best practices, but it made each district develop its own unique solutions with meager resources.

Wait. Why does that sound so familiar? Oh, I get it: When this lack of leadership fails — again — Humbree, Lucas and McMaster get to assign blame. Again. Heads they win, tails we lose.

State school Superintendent Molly Spearman is a music teacher with years of classroom experience and was an assistant principal. Why wasn’t she at this news conference? Probably because she does not agree with this trio of lawyers. ... McMaster refuses to give a mask order (that will save lives) but has no problem ordering teachers to the classroom like lambs to the slaughter.

Education is vital to our success, but so are living teachers. If McMaster, Lucas and Humbree sprint ahead, eyes closed, they are forcing state employees to work in an unsafe environment. Therefore, every injury and death will be the direct result of their depraved indifference. Good thing they are lawyers. They know exactly what that means.

CHARLES TRANT, MD

Florence

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