Gobbledygook is not ‘sound public policy’

Gobbledygook is not ‘sound public policy’

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to play out, so, too, does government illogic expand into decipherable gobbledygook that defiles anything resembling sound public policy.

To wit:

In case the first, it has been revealed that the Pennsylvania Department of Health “quietly announced” late last month that it has suspended – for two months – regulations surrounding childhood immunizations.

The rationale for the move – if, that is, such a decision even rises to the term – is that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a backlog of those seeking and/or scheduling immunizations.

The Health Department says children should not be penalized for not having their shots (for, say, mumps, measles, rubella, etc.) and be allowed to attend school or childcare facilities until everyone can “catch up.”

Heretofore, students were required to have grade-appropriate immunizations within five days of the school year starting.

But consider this context:

“The State” that has kept schools closed for months on end because of arguably questionable concerns over coronavirus transmission in those schools yet now very well could expose countless students, faculty and staff to quite well-known transmissible diseases clearly proven to sometimes have devastating consequences.

As past has been prologue in this era of pandemic governance, “The State” clearly has run amok in Pennsylvania.

In case the second, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ (PPS) directors have voted to start the new school year the way it ended the last school year – out of the classroom and “teaching” students remotely.

The politicizing teachers’ union, no doubt, played a major role in this edict.

You’ll note “teaching” in quotation marks for a very good reason: Thousands of PPS students did not even have laptop computers that have become a staple in classrooms and, in these times, an absolute necessity in remote learning.

Despite that shortcoming, among others, many students who should not have been passed on to the next grade were. The “rationale” was that such students should be held harmless because of the pandemic.

But, and even more unprepared than they already were, harmed they will be as they struggle even more in higher grades.

And as various news reports have it, with a month to go before the fall nine-week period bows, thousands of students likely still will not have those laptops.

Such iffy instruction, again, likely will spell disaster.

This, in a district that while spending far more per student than other districts has been academically regressing for years with far too many students – and many of them minorities – failing to achieve anything approaching proficiency in fundamental subjects critical to later learning.

And all this in a climate of questionable administrative spending on junkets, equally questionable contract-letting and “five-year plans” after “five-year plans” not worth the paper they are printed on.

It was in 1887’s “The Pleasures of Life” that John Lubbock reminded that “the important thing is not so much that every child should be taught as that every child should be given the wish to learn.”

Sadly, tragically, too many Pittsburgh Public Schools students have seen that wish quashed.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).