Ebola: Public education and politics don’t mix

By CDC Global (Ebola training) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I cleaned my desk for the first time in what may well have been months last night before toddling off to bed, and realized that this very simple physical act heralded a psychic straightening up as well–I feel like I just crawled out from under rock today.

Though this is my 6th year teaching, I still feel incredibly overwhelmed during these first few months. I’m the kind of person who likes to focus on one thing at a time and do it deeply and well, but there’s so many things to juggle all at once during this time that I can barely think straight and yes, lack even the capacity to sift through the piles of spam credit card mailings and other refuse of modern society accumulating on my desk at home. It’s one IEP after another, along with negotiating new ICT relationships and work loads, but I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting a handle on everything again and am able to start looking past the tip of my nose.

Finally. Sort of. Still have a pile of grading I’m supposed to get through tonight which I’ll probably end up postponing until my bus ride tomorrow morning. But anyway. I digress. You clicked on this because I wrote EBOLA in the title, right?

An interesting article I read while experiencing a bout of insomnia last night–“Ebola in the U.S.—Politics and Public Health Don’t Mix” by Judy Stone in Scientific America–outlines an interesting disparity between practitioner reality and policymaker agendas in the reaction to the outbreak of Ebola.

Interesting, because it could just as readily be applied to the realm of education. Don’t believe me? Read the following lines from the article below with the frame of education–rather than health care–in mind:

It’s fine to have policies for isolation and employee health. Administrators love that, and it looks great when JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation) comes around. The problem is that we need training, practice, and the ability to demonstrate our infection control skills. … Unsurprisingly, now US nurses are saying they are unprepared for caring for Ebola patients. …

We don’t need high tech to control Ebola. …

We don’t need posturing from politicians from the 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls and conspiracy theorists. …

We need an infrastructure that considers all the players who need to work together. We need to be proactive, as New York has been, with using “fake” patients to test hospital readiness and practice drills to identify lapses in procedures.

We need a health care system that cares for all, even for those without insurance, without causing them to delay seeking care until they are seriously ill, perhaps infecting others in the process (e.g., tuberculosis, more commonly).

And we need to take the politics out of funding for public health and research.

So, too, in education. In the public, psychological “emergency rooms” of classrooms, we don’t need ideological posturing from politicians and conspiracy theorists about the Common Core. We need training, support, and in-classroom modeling and practice. We need infrastructure. We need equitable funding and resources. And so on.

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