Should Schools Be Fully Reopened in the Fall?

The Reason Roundtable weighs in on the latest coronavirus policy debate.


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made the chat-show circuit on Sunday to argue that the federal government should withhold money from public K–12 schools that don't fully reopen in the fall.

"There's nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous," DeVos told Fox News host Chris Wallace. "We know that children contract and have the virus at far lower incidence than any other part of the population, and we know that other countries around the world have reopened their schools and have done so successfully and safely, and kids there are going back to school every day. And so that has got to be the posture here. Parents are expecting that this fall, their kids are going to have a full-time experience with their learning and we need to follow through on that promise."

Is the Trump administration right on the science? The policy? The federal government's role thereof? These are among the questions bandied about on today's Reason Roundtable podcast. Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, and Matt Welch also debate President Donald Trump's commutation of Roger Stone's sentence, Charlize Theron's action-star chops, and, of course…The Letter.

Audio production by Ian Keyser Regan Taylor.

Music: "The Great Unknown" by Audionautix.

Relevant links from the show:

"Don't Force Schools to Reopen, but Don't Force Families To Pay for Closed Schools Either," by Corey A. DeAngelis

"Families Turn to Homeschooling as the Education Establishment Fumbles Its Pandemic Response," by J.D. Tuccille

"Mr. de Blasio: Open Up Those Elementary Schools!" by Matt Welch

"Reopen the Schools!" by Robby Soave

"Trump Commutes Ally Roger Stone's Prison Sentence," by C.J. Ciaramella

"President Trump's Use of the Pardon Power," by Jonathan H. Adler

"Would a Presidential Pardon for Roger Stone Be Unconstitutional?" by Jacob Sullum

"Stone Cold Justice," by Jacob Sullum

"Trump's Continuing Commentary on Criminal Cases Reflects His Disdain for the Rule of Law," by Jacob Sullum

"Roger Stone Deserves a Lighter Sentence, but Not Because He Is Trump's Buddy," by Jacob Sullum

"Lefties Hate on Liberal Open Letter on Free Speech," by Matt Welch

"The Reaction to the Harper's Letter on Cancel Culture Proves Why It Was Necessary," by Jesse Singal

"Are We Living in Crazytown?" by David Bernstein

NEXT: Michael Shellenberger: Environmental Alarmism Is Wrong and Harmful

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  1. First

    1. Wrong answer.

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  2. Charlize Theron's action-star chops

    Probably better than Steven Seagal.

    1. Disagree.

      Steven Segal wouldn't, and didn't, need Tom Hardy in the lead role to legitimize his action chops.

      Steven Segal's peak height was 6'4" and his lowest weight was on the order of 165 lbs. at 68 he's still more intimidating than Theron's 5'8", 130 lbs.

      Not that her replacement as Imperator Furiosa will be any more intimidating.

      1. legitimize his action chops.

        If only as "action chops".

        It's not like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Sheen, Swayzee, Murphy, etc., etc.'s action bona fides were all that rigorous.

      2. Charlize was pretty damn good in Atomic Blond.

        Nice little lesbian scene in there too

        1. Charlize was pretty damn good in Atomic Blond.

          You mean the movie where she disarms and incapacitates four(+) cops with a rubber hose (or was it an extension cord?) just by being in the CIA? At least Segal used knives and samurai swords.

          I'm pretty sure it grossed less in 2010s dollars than at least a couple of Segal's movies in 80s-90s dollars and that's actually a bit embarassing.

          Nice little lesbian scene in there too

          I don't even think it was her best lesbian scene on film. Most explicit/pornographic maybe but there are way better movies and actresses for that sort of thing and, not to join the SJW bandwagon, but I'm loathe to substitute lesbian erotacism for action chops.

          Atomic Blonde made Salt look good and Charlize Theron apparently watched Kirsten Stewart behave like an unsuccessful SJW idiot and thought "I should try that at my age."

        2. Helga Svelgen is one of the greatest characters ever, and while 2 Days in the Valley isn’t really an action movie, she has an action packed cat fight with Teri Hatcher.

  3. One again, this has all become politicized. There are Top Men (TM) out there insisting that there can be some balance of "Hybrid" or whatever schooling with Extra++ Special Masks & Social Distancing.

    What the world needs is someone to be honest.

    1) If you send your kids to school, they are going to get Covid. Sending them 2 days a week or 1 day a week, or in masks, or with social distancing isn't going to do a damn thing. They will get COVID. Especially your elementary school kids. And any teacher there will get the same.

    2) If you are in a situation where that risk is intolerable, please take advantage of Distance Learning.

    The same goes for teachers.

    This attempt to cram hybrid solutions down peoples' throats as if it will change anything is just leading the public to believe that some Top Man can stop the spread of COVID. And like is happening today, when those efforts fail, they will blame all those grubby kids who can't wear masks correctly, or respect social distancing.

    1. You can't give the hysterics an inch.
      Stop tolerating their bullshit.
      Call them out everywhere, and refuse to give ground.

      They are using their fear to take away your rights.

      1. Don't you ever get tired of losing the culture war and whining about complying with others' preferences -- while you obsequiously comply?

        Carry on, clinger . . . but only so far and so long as your betters permit.

    2. 3) Even if you don’t send your kids to school they are going to catch the virus unless you seal them up and never let them out.
      This virus is not going away and the quicker everyone gets exposed and builds immunity the quicker we can get back to normalcy.

      Read that a innovative vaccine, one that uses the body to generate the rods that the virus uses to attach itself to the cells instead of dead or weakened virus themselves. It has just been approved for testing and if it does work, and the big question continue to be effective against the virus as it mutates, it will be a real game changer. The issue in the past, and the reason we have never had a Cold vaccine, the viruses mutated too fast for them to be feasible. This technology might be used to create a more effective Influenza vaccine as well, or even one for HIV…look out Ebola were comin for yah.

  4. Schools should never reopen, as the Communist Chinese Virus is with us forever.
    So end all public schools, end all contracts with unionized teachers, sell the buses and buildings, lower taxes to compensate, and let freedom ring.

    1. Second that -- How about Fully Close commie "supposed education" and let the free market ( competent workers ) educate. Let's face it; if Amazon worked like the Board of Education our products would be even worse than China's.

      It's like asking homeless bums to teach our children how to be successful because lets face it - almost all teachers know nothing about being successful without enslaving society for their commie pay.

  5. The public re-education camps and indoctrination centers should be closed but the teachers and administrators should still get paid.
    After all, they're producing as many illiterates not teaching as they were teaching.

  6. I couldn't care less. The kids aren't getting a worthwhile education anyway. It's just indoctriation. If you put your kids in public school you are harming them.

    1. This isn't true. Yes, there are many horrible schools and school districts, and vouchers, charter schools, etc., should be expanded, but there are many fine public schools. More than are bad.
      Children will not learn online. Children will not learn if the whole day is devoted to safety theatre. Children will not learn if they can't see a teacher's face because she's wearing a mask. Children will not learn if they only go to school half a week. Children will not learn if they are not allowed to play with their friends in different classrooms. Children will not learn if they are being taught by parents who have. Ot been taught how to teach. And children will not learn if they are homeless because one of their parents had to quit their job in order to babysit and teach a child that they are already paying the fucking government to babysit and teach.

      1. Can't tell if sarcasm. Children are incredibly adaptable and can learn in a wide variety of situations. Whether the parents will learn the difference between what their kids need and what society says they need is a different matter.

        1. "Children are incredibly adaptable and can learn in a wide variety of situations."

          While that may be true, I am sick of spending years of my kids' life to adapt. It didn't work during the last few months, and I can't blow another year of education to figure it out.

          This is super simple. Parents get 2 options: Keep your kids home on distance learning, or send them to school as normal. Teachers can either teach distance learning or go to school.

          Trying to play this hybrid approach is pure stupid. You are forcing the kids to adapt, while pretending that social distancing works with 6 year olds.

          1. Try to get some new schools going.
            Get together with other parents.
            Give The State a competitor, and make them try to crack down.
            If it's widespread enough, we've solved the immediate problem of covid bs and possibly longer education reform.
            Get the market involved

      2. Sorry to disagree with you Denver, but no there are not a lot of good schools, just as there are not a lot of good teachers. I hear this trope all the time “There are a lot of good teachers”, it is so disingenuous. Like the attorneys in movies before they let into the witness saying how sorry they are that what happened to them happened. It is meaningless and just something we say before we get to the argument, so what we need to say more often is there are only a few good teachers, a lot of bad teachers and a lot of ok teachers. Same goes for schools there are only a few good schools, and very few of those if any are traditional public schools. We believed our daughters school was a good school until they moved to remote in March, the drivel they were pushing was stuff she had done in pre-school. When my wife asked the teacher when this would improve and move on to what they were teaching in class the teacher said this is what they were doing in class! Watching Randy Whinegarden talk, I see their goals, one of course is to keep the schools closed to try and help Biden and the Dems, the second is to force districts to enlarge, build more classrooms and hire more teachers (union members of course). Our only hope is more parents say enough of this crap, see it for what it is and demand school choice, by that I mean vouchers so we can pick were we send our children and were we send our tax dollars.

  7. How about leaving it up to the kids? Isn't it all about them?

  8. My main takeaway from this whole shift to distance learning during the pandemic is how schools are so full of shit.

    They can 100% go back to the way things were this fall and it doesn't change the fact that they were taking the same amount of funding for either A. The same value in education which proves that the traditional way is extremely bloated and they know it but wint admit it or B. Worse value in education which proves they don't care about the people they are supposed to serve.

    It would be great if this eventually this clicked for people, but I'm not that optimistic

    1. *won't

      Gah I hate posting here on my phone

  9. it should be not open also its matter for saftey

      1. Umm...if gizmonotch's an example of what public schools produce, I say keep them closed.

        Also: Tony.

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  11. It depends on the severity of crisis in a particular region. So if the area is safe for people and specially for kids then yes schools should be opened else not. However government can consider providing training online.
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  12. Funny that the liberals who always say, "Look at what Europe is doing about (whatever)" don't say that about opening schools. Probably because Orange Man Bad thinks it's a good idea.

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  14. They should never have been closed.

  15. If schools remain closed, teachers pay should be cut and admin pay should be utterly eliminated.

    Then we will see how important the issue is for them.

  16. Schools should never be opened.
    "In all countries, in all centuries, the primary reason for government to set up schools is to undermine the politically weak by convincing their children that the leaders are good and their policies are wise." ~ Marshall Fritz
    "And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps." ~ H.L. Mencken
    "Governments have ever been known to hold a high hand over the education of the people. They know, better than anyone else, that their power is based almost entirely on the school. Hence, they monopolize it more and more." ~ Francisco Ferrer
    "Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery." ~ Benjamin Disraeli

  17. Are we supposed to believe that college aged kids that only do remote learning will also be practice social distancing? That has not been my experience albeit a small sample size. Kids are out and about now and more than likely going or not going to school will make little difference in that.

    BTW: they should be out and about.

  18. If schools remain closed, teachers pay should be cut and admin pay should be utterly eliminated.

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