There’s a quote I remember but can’t for the life of me find. Google’s been no help. I think it’s from a Hemingway book. I remember it like this:
“He remembered feeling that way in every autumn of his life…”
Reading the words brought memories of forgotten feelings of my youth. Autumn was melancholy and exciting at the same time. Summer was ending. You were losing the slow and easy freedom you’d come to enjoy. It was time to go back to work. But it cools down a bit and the southern air loses some of its weight. Nature gives you a new shot of adrenaline to do the job. The doves fill up the sunflower fields and the footballs fly end over end at Terry Sanford and Kenan Stadium. Friends and companions come back into your life and new crushes stir you inside. In the end, I think God knew what he was doing when he knocked the Earth into a tilt. He gave us an opportunity to grow.
My two boys and the vast majority of American kids lost that feeling and that opportunity in 2020. We took it from them. In a few short weeks, we have the opportunity to give it back.
To the Cumberland County School Board, The North Carolina General Assembly, and Governor Roy Cooper: You’ve been living your life this summer, as you please. Our kids don’t get that choice. As they can’t vote and they can’t get vaccinated, they’re easy targets for your control. But it’s time you take a calculated risk.
Open the school doors on the 23rd of August and keep them open.
Something rare for North Carolina politics happened today. Governor Cooper and the Republicans controlling the North Carolina Legislature actually agreed on something:
The plan calls for all elementary schools to open under “Plan A,” a category that means full in-person classes without the distancing requirements of “Plan B,” which has typically been implemented as a mix of in-person and online instruction to cut class sizes and spread students out.
Middle schools and high schools around the state would pick from Plan A, Plan B or a blend of both under the deal. The difference is based on ages: Older students are thought to transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 more easily than younger children.
All grades still have to provide parents with an online-only option.
Our school board members in Cumberland County should proceed with this plan immediately. They won’t, but they should. Other large counties, like Wake, sent their kids back in February. Instead, the Cumberland School Board will wait until the last possible moment under the law to get our kids in school full-time. It’s looking like April for us, and it’s a lesson that power and control, once acquired, are difficult to give up.
Our constitutional framework gives a great deal of power to the executive branches of our state and federal governments in times of emergency. We gladly handed over control to our fearless leaders when we were afraid last Spring. They’ve kept it since then. Now, a year later, some across the country want to take it back.
When an emergency ends, it’s only reasonable that governors should relinquish some control, or at least give it to the people’s representatives in the legislative branch.
Power, however, is not easily relinquished.
Watch any Star Wars movie for a quick lesson on the dangers of emergency executive control.
In the meantime, here’s what’s happening in 2021:
In N.Y., Cuomo is Being Neutered by His Own Party
Democrats in New York are upset with Governor Cuomo. They are attempting to limit his emergency powers, as we speak.
On Wednesday, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat and chairman of the health committee, said it was now time for action. “We need to remind them that state government is not one big branch: There’s three of them,” he said.
Cuomo literally wrote a book on his covid performance.
Apparently, the people of New York don’t want anymore “leadership lessons.”
In N.C., Cooper Wants More Time
This week, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill to force open public schools. Governor Cooper said he supported reopening, but he didn’t do anything to actually open schools, leaving the decision to local schoolboards. This guaranteed gridlock, status quo, and frustration for parents and students.
Cooper came out against the new bill, wanting to hold onto the emergency power he was afraid to “execute” himself.
Local Democrats Billy Richardson, Kirk deViere, and Ben Clark voted for the bill, against Cooper’s wishes.
The only remaining question is whether Cooper will veto. As of today, he hasn’t decided what he’ll do. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
“Before taking action on the bill I have on my desk…”
That’s a ridiculous statement considering the crisis we’re in. Our kids deserve some action, Governor Cooper, one way or another.
If Cooper does veto the bill, he will likely be overridden. Unless something drastic happens, N.C. schools should all be open in March. It’s about damn time.
What it Means
These two Democratic Governors have higher office in mind, and they have been angling through the crisis to be a future V.P. or Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.
Cooper didn’t write a book about it, but he would often brag about how N.C. was “doing better” than other states in the region. Now, we’re not doing better. It’s all about the same, wherever you go, regardless of restrictions and regardless of whether schools are open.
In the end, we’re left with two governors who tried to turn their covid performance into a political springboard.
Local boards of education shall provide the option of in-person instruction under Plan A (Minimal Social Distancing) or Plan B (Moderate Social Distancing) for all other students enrolled in grades kindergarten through 12 in that unit. It shall be in the discretion of the local board whether in-person instruction shall be provided under Plan A (Minimal Social Distancing), Plan B (Moderate Social Distancing), or both Plans as necessary to address the needs of different school. Local boards of education shall continue to provide remote instruction options for students to elect to participate in, at the discretion of the parent or guardian, for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
Note that you can still keep your kids at home, if you choose to. It’s up to the family, not the government.
Something else happened today:
Governor Cooper and Mandy Cohen actually recommended that schools re-open. This is a first. The timing is not a coincidence.
“It’s time to get students back into the classroom,” Gov. Roy Cooper said.
Well, then get them back in the classroom. You can do it with the stroke of a pen, Mr. Governor.
Instead, Cooper will continue his tap dance:
“I don’t think that’s the way to go,” Cooper said of the bill Tuesday. “I think the way to go is to get our local school boards to take this action. … They have to make some very tough decisions on the ground.”
I’m having trouble with his logic. Cooper shut down the schools. He can open them back up. Why force local boards to carry your political baggage for you?
What it Means
Roy Cooper has flown the banner of “public education” his entire political career. If he honestly believes in his heart that it is safe for kids to be in school, then he should do something about it.
On that note, if our “fearless leader” believes that it’s safe for kids to be in school, then she should do something about it.
I’ve got a suggestion. Instead of giving another press conference, try swinging by a school board meeting in Cumberland County (you can do it virtually) and educating our members about the science you love to tout when it supports closures, but not so much when it justifies getting things back open.
Instead Cooper and Cohen want to make everyone happy, simultaneously.