Opinion | Quarantine May Negatively Affect Kids’ Immune Systems – The New York Times

By Donna L. Farber and 

Dr. Farber is a professor of immunology and surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, where Dr. Connors is an assistant professor of pediatrics.

Credit…Dave Woody for The New York Times

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is unwittingly conducting what amounts to the largest immunological experiment in history on our own children. We have been keeping children inside, relentlessly sanitizing their living spaces and their hands and largely isolating them. In doing so, we have prevented large numbers of them from becoming infected or transmitting the virus. But in the course of social distancing to mitigate the spread, we may also be unintentionally inhibiting the proper development of children’s immune systems.

Most children are born with a functioning immune system with the capacity to respond to diverse types of foreign substances, called antigens, encountered through exposure to microorganisms, food and the environment. The eradication of harmful pathogens, establishment of protective immunity and proper immune regulation depends on the immune cells known as T lymphocytes. With each new infection, pathogen-specific T cells multiply and orchestrate the clearance of the infectious organism from the body, after which some persist as memory T cells with enhanced immune functions.

Over time, children develop increasing numbers and types of memory T cells, which remain throughout the body as a record of past exposures and stand ready to provide lifelong protection. For other antigen exposures that are not infectious or dangerous, a type of healthy stalemate can result, called immune tolerance. Immunological memory and tolerance learned during childhood serves as the basis for immunity and health throughout adulthood.

Memory T cells begin to form during the first years of life and accumulate during childhood. However, for memory T cells to become functionally mature, multiple exposures may be necessary, particularly for cells residing in tissues such as the lung and intestines, where we encounter numerous pathogens. These exposures typically and naturally occur during the everyday experiences of childhood — such as interactions with friends, teachers, trips to the playground, sports — all of which have been curtailed or shut down entirely during efforts to mitigate viral spread. As a result, we are altering the frequency, breadth and degree of exposures that are crucial for immune memory development.”

Opinion | The Problem With Coronavirus School Closures – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

“Some things are true even though President Trump says them.

Trump has been demanding for months that schools reopen, and on that he seems to have been largely right. Schools, especially elementary schools, do not appear to have been major sources of coronavirus transmission, and remote learning is proving to be a catastrophe for many low-income children.

Yet America is shutting schools — New York City announced Wednesday that it was closing schools in the nation’s largest school district — even as it allows businesses like restaurants and bars to operate. What are our priorities?

“I have taught at the same low-income school for the last 25 years, and, truly, I can attest that remote schooling is failing our children,” said LaShondra Taylor, an English teacher in Broward County, Fla.

Some students don’t have a computer or don’t have Wi-Fi, Taylor said. Kids regularly miss classes because they have to babysit, or run errands, or earn money for their struggling families.

Opinion | Joe Biden and the Leaders of 2020: Educated by Public Universities – By Sarah Vowell – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Gregobagel/iStock, via Getty Images

“Since the Harvard-Yale game that was the 1988 general election, all U.S. presidents, including the Wharton School graduate currently occupying the White House, have been Ivy League alumni. President Gerald Ford (University of Michigan, ’35) often ditched “Hail to the Chief” as his walk-on music and replaced it with his college fight song, but he never won the Electoral College, having assumed the Oval Office after Richard Nixon resigned.

So if Joe Biden (University of Delaware, ’65) prevails in November, he will be the first graduate of an American public university to be elected president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Technically, the University of Delaware bills itself as “private-public” because of an arcane corporate charter. Yet it is a state-funded land-grant college charging out-of-state students about $11,000 more in tuition than residents, and it was defined as public by the court that ordered it to desegregate in the 1950s. So we state school alumni will be claiming Mr. Biden’s potential victory as our own. And just as L.B.J. had a fellow state schooler on the ticket in Vice President Hubert Humphrey (University of Minnesota, ’39), Mr. Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, is a Howard alum who also graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

A flashback in Richard Ben Cramer’s book “What It Takes” found Mr. Biden, as a young father and Senator, holding court in a Delaware backyard pontificating on college to other parents: “‘There’s a river of power that flows through this country … And that river,’ Joe said, ‘flows from the Ivy League.’” “

A Defense of Cursive, From a 10-Year-Old National Champion – By Tracey Tully – The New York Times

By 

“A fifth grader in New Jersey is a master of curlicues and connecting loops. His technique is so good he was named a state and national champion of a dying art: cursive writing, a skill that once seemed destined to go the way of the typewriter.

The boy, Edbert Aquino, who is 10, took home last year’s national trophy, $500 and bragging rights for his Roman Catholic elementary school in Bergen County.”

Image

But competition for the prize might just get stiffer in New Jersey.

Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, a Democrat from Jersey City, has introduced legislation that would require public schools to again teach a skill that had been phased out across the country, but is now enjoying something of a revival.

Opinion | A Better Way to Run Schools – by David Leonhardt – NYT

“Twelve years later, Nigel Palmer still remembers the embarrassment of his first days as a fourth grader in Monroe, La. He was a Hurricane Katrina evacuee from New Orleans, living with his family in a La Quinta Inn, 250 miles from home. As soon as the school year began, he could tell that the kids in his new school seemed different from him.

They could divide numbers. He really couldn’t. They knew the 50 states. He didn’t. “I wasn’t up to par,” he quietly told me. It’s a miserable feeling.

Until the storm, Palmer had been attending New Orleans public schools, which were among the country’s worst. The high-school graduation rate was 54 percent, and some students who did graduate had shockingly weak academic skills.”

David Lindsay Jr:
How complicated. David Leonhardt, your piece was exciting, but in the comments, you appear to have run into a buzz saw of questions and doubts. Well Houdini, do you have the data to back up your enthusiasm, and isolated stories? While your at work, please explain why the 37th percentile is better than the 22nd, and why some commenters say your an idiot to think 37th is OK.

David Lindsay Jr. is a huge fan of David Leonhardt. Lindsay is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

The Teachers Revolt in West Virginia – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Two years ago, The Washington Post ran a long piece about West Virginia called, “How the birthplace of the American labor movement just turned on its unions.” It described how, following the Republican takeover of the Legislature in 2014, the state passed a so-called right-to-work law prohibiting mandatory union dues. Such laws have badly undermined unions in other states, and for people who care about organized labor, it was a bitter irony to see one enacted in a place once famed for its militant labor movement. The state also repealed a law mandating that workers on public construction projects are paid prevailing industry rates.

Labor in West Virginia seemed beaten down.That’s one reason the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia, which on Monday entered its eighth day, is so thrilling. Strikes by teachers are unlawful in the state, and their unions lack collective bargaining rights. Nevertheless, in a revival of West Virginia’s long-dormant tradition of bold labor activism, teachers and some other school employees in all of the state’s 55 counties are refusing to return to work until lawmakers give them a 5 percent raise, and commit to addressing their rapidly rising health insurance premiums.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

This report flunks, like all the others I’ve heard on this subject. No one will say what the salaries of these teachers are, where they start, where they end. What is the average total package. Facts and numbers matter, and it grieves me that the best this lousy op-ed can do, is cite a massive paper.

In Reply to the top comment, I added:

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT 

Lack of numbers in the piece is very disappointing. Here is what I found. “Teacher Salaries in West Virginia by Education As teachers further their educations and gain experience in the field, they receive pay increases that reflect their dedication and hard work. Salaries vary between school districts, but the following are some examples of the salaries you can expect in West Virginia: Experience Bachelor’s Master’s At 3 years $30,871 $33,399

At 6 years $ 32,670 $35,199

At 9 years $34,226 $36,754

At 12 years $35,783 $38,311 Source: West Virginia Department of Education

DL: It’s too bad this piece didn’t include such numbers. They are lower than expected.

Next important question, what are the median salary levels state-wide for West Virginina. Facts matter.

Education: Boys Falling Behind Girls in Many Areas – by Peg Tyre – Newsweek

“Spend a few minutes on the phone with Danny Frankhuizen and you come away thinking, “What a nice boy.” He’s thoughtful, articulate, bright. He has a good relationship with his mom, goes to church every Sunday, loves the rock band Phish and spends hours each day practicing his guitar. But once he’s inside his large public Salt Lake City high school, everything seems to go wrong. He’s 16, but he can’t stay organized. He finishes his homework and then can’t find it in his backpack. He loses focus in class, and his teachers, with 40 kids to wrangle, aren’t much help. “If I miss a concept, they tell me, ‘Figure it out yourself’,” says Danny. Last year Danny’s grades dropped from B’s to D’s and F’s. The sophomore, who once dreamed of Stanford, is pulling his grades up but worries that “I won’t even get accepted at community college.”

His mother, Susie Malcom, a math teacher who is divorced, says it’s been wrenching to watch Danny stumble. “I tell myself he’s going to make something good out of himself,” she says. “But it’s hard to see doors close and opportunities fall away.”What’s wrong with Danny? By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind. In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes. High-school boys are losing ground to girls on standardized writing tests. The number of boys who said they didn’t like school rose 71 percent between 1980 and 2001, according to a University of Michigan study. Nowhere is the shift more evident than on college campuses. Thirty years ago men represented 58 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now they’re a minority at 44 percent. This widening achievement gap, says Margaret Spellings, U.S. secretary of Education, “has profound implications for the economy, society, families and democracy.” ”

Source: Education: Boys Falling Behind Girls in Many Areas

The Boys Are Not All Right – By MICHAEL IAN BLACK – NYT

“I used to have this one-liner: “If you want to emasculate a guy friend, when you’re at a restaurant, ask him everything that he’s going to order, and then when the waitress comes … order for him.” It’s funny because it shouldn’t be that easy to rob a man of his masculinity — but it is.

Last week, 17 people, most of them teenagers, were shot dead at a Florida school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now joins the ranks of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine and too many other sites of American carnage. What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys.

America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Thank you Micael Ian Black for a thoughtful set of observations and questions. Socrates calls it baloney, and he misfires which is unusual for him. I grew painfully aware of this difficult topic, when Newsweek ran a cover story on it, just before the magazine sold itself and went digital only. In that historic cover story, Newsweek reported that boys were falling seriously behind girls in elementary and high school, college, and even graduate school. It gave a host of negative national statistics and possible causes. A major cause might be the reduction of recesss and non varsity sports programs in school programs. Others included the natural addiction of young men to computer gaming and especially first person shooter games. In the grossly male hostile public schools of Hamden CT, I saw my two sons slowly decline, while my daughter thrived. What the Newsweek cover story brought to life, was that what we were experiencing in one family, was a national trend. Boys are in trouble, and the country is barely aware of the problem.
x
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Later – The New York Times

“A Brookings Institution policy brief investigated the trade-offs between costs and benefits of pushing back the start times of high school in 2011. It estimated that increased transportation costs would most likely be about $150 per student per year. But more sleep has been shown to lead to higher academic achievement. They found that the added academic benefit of later start times would be equivalent to about two additional months of schooling, which they calculated would add about $17,500 to a student’s earnings over the course of a lifetime. Thus, the benefits outweighed the costs.”

Scientists at Harvard and other places have already published research that teenagers are wired to get up later than other folks, and need more sleep than most everyone else.

Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost. – The New York Times

“The crisis at Carver Academy was not unfolding in isolation. Michigan’s aggressively free-market approach to schools has resulted in one of the most deregulated educational environments in the country, a laboratory in which consumer choice and a shifting landscape of supply and demand (and profit motive, in the case of many charters) were pitched as ways to improve life in the classroom for the state’s 1.5 million public-school students. But a Brookings Institution analysis done this year of national test scores ranked Michigan last among all states when it came to improvements in student proficiency. And a 2016 analysis by the Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education policy and research organization, found that 70 percent of Michigan charters were in the bottom half of the state’s rankings. Michigan has the most for-profit charter schools in the country and some of the least state oversight. Even staunch charter advocates have blanched at the Michigan model.”