The President’s Traits Undermine the Safe Re-opening of Schools
The turmoil and division surrounding the re-opening of schools are explained by the President’s core traits of dereliction/inability to plan, drive to dominate/hostility, and callousness/tolerance of risk.
Everyone wants to re-open schools. But it is a thorny, complicated task to do so safely. The project requires careful planning; and collaboration with parents, students, teachers and front line workers; and empathic leadership to address the concerns of all.
However, Trump’s response has been right out of the psychopathic playbook. There has been no attention to detail or planning. He has trashed his own CDC’s guides for re-opening as “too tough and expensive.” He has tried to bully the schools into re-opening and downplayed safety concerns. He has threatened to cut off federal funding for schools and politicized the issue.
His recklessness and callousness have, as usual, dictated his response (and our fate). Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, notes “I truly believe in my heart that he doesn’t care whether kids or teachers or parents live or die. There’s no body count high enough that would make him pay attention to science.” Or trigger his conscience since it doesn’t exist.
Trump has reflexively adopted an arrogant stance on re-opening. He stands apart from The National Education Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Federation of Teachers and The School Superintendents Association who insist on a safe return to schools with adequate safeguards and strict protocols. Trump disdains such experts and resorts to threats and bluffs. He views a slow and careful re-opening as a threat to the economy, and therefore to his reelection.
His hard-wired arrogance and aggressiveness may not prevail this time. In a recent Axios poll, seven in ten see a “large to moderate risk” in re-opening. Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers notes, “The irony is his incompetence and his arrogance and his refusal to listen to experts and his downplaying of the virus have made it impossible to do what he thought he needs to run for reelection.”
It is a slender ray of light in this bleakest of all summers: the bus he is driving off a cliff may not contain as many passengers.