A Quick Look at Kamala Harris, Jill Biden’s Speech at the DNC, & Complications for Reopening Schools
A Quick Look at Kamala Harris
By Gisha Reji
On August 11, 2020, Joe Biden announced that he had chosen Kamala Harris as his running mate for the 2020 election. She is the first African American, the first Indian American, and the third woman to be chosen as the vice-presidential nominee for a major party ticket.
This pick was predicted many months before the announcement, because of Kamala Harris’ seemingly perfect fit into the position of Vice President to Joe Biden. Many strongly believe that this duo would be a formidable force in the 2020 elections. So, who is Kamala Harris and why was she Biden’s final choice for Vice President?
Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California. Coming from a highly educated and accomplished family, Harris followed suit by actively involving in debate and politics at her university, and attaining her Juris Doctor in 1989.
Harris has had a very successful career as a lawyer and has served as Attorney General twice. She also serves as the United States Senator. She has been a massive advocate for criminal justice reform, environment protection, consumer protection and prevention of cybercrimes with a very high success rate.
However, what makes her an appropriate choice is not only her accomplishments, but also her identity. Being of Indian and Jamaican descent, her voice has become a lot more prominent in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement. She is also outspoken and was never fearful of being critical of Biden’s actions. This brings in a balance where Biden is not surrounded by ‘yes men’ and can make balanced decisions that will benefit the nation.
However, Kamala too has also been in a few controversies where her efforts, such as the anti-truancy policy, backfired and caused negative consequences. Prison Reform too saw some backlash when Harris’ lawyers argued that releasing inmates who worked as groundskeepers, janitors and kitchen staff would drastically reduce their prison labour pool.
In conclusion, the duo has received a lot of support and have successfully posed a threat to the future of the Trump administration. Harris’s arguments against Mike Pence have proven to be powerful, and can seemingly aid Biden in the upcoming election.
Jill Biden’s DNC speech
By Chloe Robinson
Jill Biden, veteran teacher and wife of presidential candidate Joe Biden, urges Americans to vote for her husband in her speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
She starts out the speech by discussing the flaws the pandemic has brought to our country’s learning environments, and sympathizes with parents who may struggle to balance their own work and the education of their children.
She relates to the American people’s worry of losing their family to the pandemic’s deadly wrath, as she brings up her own experiences with motherhood and family.
“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding, and with small acts of kindness. With bravery. With unwavering faith,” she says. Biden suggests that our country is coming together in moments we otherwise would not have, and that people have recently been more appreciative of each other’s differences.
She claims that the “soul of America” that Joe Biden fights for is the kindness and courage he finds lies within our nation. She tells the brave American people, especially those who have overcome adversity in their life, that Joe “does it for [them]”. She praises her husband and talks about his “great faith in the providence of god”.
Biden recognizes the sadness of our empty classrooms and playgrounds, yet adds that there’s “sparks of change in the air.” She acknowledges that Americans of all occupations and backgrounds are coming together to fight against the pandemic, whether it be educators, parents, or first-responders, and says that we need to further come together as a nation. She suggests that Joe and Kamala will “make this nation better” and will serve as a glimmer of hope and possibility for our country’s prosper post-pandemic.
The Complications and Politics Around Reopening Schools
By Brett Moriarty
Six months ago, attending school in-person was a normalcy, and something that wouldn’t have required much thought. As the beginning of the school year approaches, many districts and independent schools are clashing on the best choices for their next steps. As of now, most districts have opted to begin remote learning, despite the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that policy considerations should have “students physically present in school.” Here is everything we know about the current debate:
Many states including Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee have already resumed face-to-face school with new socially distant implementations. This might be a major step in the United States’ recovery from Covid-19, but some school districts have already had to reclose. One county in Georgia was told to quarantine after over 900 students and faculty members were potentially exposed to the virus.
While the virus continues to make its way across the country, northeastern states like Connecticut and New Jersey plan to resume in person as the school year begins. After becoming the epicenter of the virus in America, in the early spring, New York has seen significantly lower numbers through these past few months. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all districts could reopen in the fall but Mayor Bill de Blasio oppositely decided to postpone the school year to September 21st, in order for educators to receive more time for preparation.
The majority of people are very unhappy with the way Mayor de Blasio has handled the reopening of NYC public schools. While many independent schools have reopened with varying days in person, public schools have yet to even publish a plan. Mayor de Blasio has postponed devising a plan multiple times and people are fed up. Not only do they want to go back to school, but they also make sure it is a safe environment. Starting September 21st, NYC public schools reopened, but everything is online till further notice.
Once New York City classes resume in person, they will look very different than in the world before Covid-19. Most students will go into school 1-3 days a week and spend the rest remotely. This helps to limit class size and exposure possibilities. They will also be required to wear a mask throughout their time on campus. Many students and families are still hesitant to return, as 37 percent of NY families have opted for full remote learning.
As for deciding if it’s okay to reopen, there is much debate. President Trump has pushed for schools to reopen full time. He has threatened to cut off federal funding to schools that do not open, even though it has been acknowledged he does not hold the authority to do so. President Trump has also argued that children should go fully back, for the virus does not pose a threat to them. Dr. Anthony Fauci has supported the president in saying the virus does not pose the same debilitating effects as adults and that keeping schools closed could be a stretch. He has still urged caution to schools, as the children could easily bring the virus home to possibly immunocompromised loved ones. Lastly, a recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, came to a similar conclusion that whenever possible, younger children and those with special needs should attend school in person.
There is also considerable pushback from teachers. The American Federation of Teachers has said that they are requiring better testing and tracking of the virus in order for schools to safely reopen. Nearly one-third of NYC public school teachers are over 50, so the AAP recommends that they maintain a physical distance of six feet from other people as much as possible. On July 10, the AAP released a statement in partnership with the nation’s two largest teachers unions, stating that “schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts,” after receiving lots of negative feedback and protests. The American Federation of Teachers has said it would support its members to possibly strike in areas that are reopening without sufficient safety precautions. There is still much going on, but as of now, schools are generally bringing students back in-person step by step with complaints (and praise) from either students, families, or faculty.