School culture war: ‘You brought division to us’
“I want my child to go to school without a mask,” a woman shouted at a union official In Broward County last week, protesters held up signs saying “My Body, My Choice” and “Mask = Child Abuse.” Broward County voted to require masks despite the governor’s order.
The rhetoric was also in St. John’s County, 300 miles away, where masked parents demonstrated with young children and urged school officials to defy the governor’s order. “Dead children are not acceptable harm,” read a sign. After a school board meeting that lasted more than seven hours last week, masks remained optional.
“We have been handcuffed,” said the school board chair.
Also, at least 28 states, largely Republican-controlled, have moved to restrict education on race and history. Another 15 states, mostly run by Democrats, have moved to expand racial education, according to Chalkbeat, a non-profit education news outlet.
Understand the status of vaccines and masks in the US
- mask rule. In July the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places within areas experiencing outbreaks, a reversal of guidance given in May. See where CDC guidance will apply, and where states have established their own masking policies. Mask battles have become controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state restrictions.
- Vaccine Rules. . . And NSUtilities. Private companies are increasingly making coronavirus vaccines mandatory for employees in different ways. Such a mandate is legally permitted and upheld in court challenges.
- Colleges and Universities. More than 400 colleges and universities require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.
- schools. On August 11, California announced that it would require teachers and staff from both public and private schools to be vaccinated or face routine testing, the first state in the country to do so. A poll released in August found that many US parents of school-age children are opposed to mandatory vaccines for students, but were more supportive of the mask mandate for students, teachers and staff members who have had their shots. are not.
- Hospitals and Medical Centers. Many hospitals and major health systems require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, citing the growing caseload fueled by the Delta variant and the stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even as their Even within the task force.
- New York. On August 3, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that indoor dining, gyms, performances and other indoor situations would require proof of vaccination of workers and customers, the first to require vaccines for a wide range of activities. became an American city. . City hospital staff must also get a vaccine or be subject to weekly testing. Similar rules apply for New York state employees.
- at the federal level. The Pentagon announced it wants to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty soldiers “no later than” no later than mid-September. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to routine testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
Much of the debate has centered on critical race theory, an advanced academic concept that analyzes racism at systemic levels and is not usually taught until college.
“It’s not really about important race theory,” said Dorinda Carter Andrews, a professor of race, culture and equity at Michigan State University, where she teaches such a course. “It’s really a distraction,” she said, “to suppress the way teachers engage young people in race dialogue.”
Keith Ammon, a Republican state representative in New Hampshire, is among those who have sought to regulate how teachers talk about race. He said concepts such as white privilege can create a “divisive worldview” and that he was wary of teachers who “bring their activism into the classroom.”
As a legislator, he said, he has the task of “giving some guidelines on how taxpayers’ money is used.”
As these laws take effect, teachers may increasingly find themselves in the cross hairs.
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