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Masks, Restricted Mobility, and Children’s Health

The harm in masking children and restricting their mobility leads to more long term harm for them than COVID

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Much has been said or written about whether or not school children should be vaccinated, wear masks, and attend on-site classes. Many voices on the right say that children’s propensity for contracting the virus and having any lingering ill-effects is rather small.

Voices on the left, well, who can be sure what they’re saying? Some have health concerns, but most seem to favor anything that will disrupt the nation and potentially cause harm to conservative politicians.

Under-explored is the effect of children wearing masks, incurring a lack of physical activity, and staring at screens. What about the impact of children not being able to see full faces and the resulting damage to their social development and skills? Should that be a topic of interest in the national conversation? If not, why not? What about children who already are over-connected to the internet and unconnected from nature, and from each other?

Many Schools Have the Space

Since social distancing is the order of the day, why has little discussion taken place about the creative ways in which schools can uphold social distancing for mask-free children who should be attending them? Nearly every school, from elementary to high school, has a gymnasium, and much of the time there is room within the gymnasium for 20 or 30 students to sit spaced apart and receive instruction.

For many hours each day, school cafeterias are not widely used. Cafeterias include tables and chairs which can be arranged to practice social distancing while enabling mask-free children to learn first-hand from an on-site teacher.

Most schools across the nation have auditoriums or theaters, or rooms of some sort where performances, assemblies, speeches, and presentations take place. In such gathering halls, a mask-free class of 20 or 30 students could meet in one corner, another class in another corner, and so on, thereby maintaining distance. Also, in many parts of the country during late August, September, and October, the weather is palatable for holding classes outdoors.

The Fuzzy Future

Nearsightedness among all ages groups in society is on the rise: Since the 1970s, nearsightedness has increased nearly 70 percent. Whereas 35 years ago, roughly a quarter of the population between ages 12 and 54 required corrective lenses for nearsightedness, today that figure is above 50 percent.

Myopia is likely on the rise because of the increasing use of electronic devices, notably among young children, and starting at an early age. From age three on up, kids today stare at screens incessantly. Susan Vitale, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in the Clinical Trials Branch, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications, National Eye Institute, notes that our affinity for electronic devices, especially among young children, could explain the sudden jump in nearsightedness.

It appears that the time spent indoors, which has been on the rise since the computer revolution of the early 1980s, doesn’t help. Children spend more time indoors today than children of previous generations and, thus, the peril of myopia looms. For eye health, indoor lighting cannot compare with sunlight. When too little ambient light infiltrates their fields of vision, it sends a signal to each eye to stop growing. That can lead directly to myopia, and hence, a lifetime of trips to the optometrist.

Children are Vulnerable

Often, kids are allowed to stay connected to the Internet and electronic gadgetry, staring into screens for more hours each day than any futurist could have imagined, and all the while being subjected to the negative consequences of such actions.

Each of us, from childhood on, need to spend more time outdoors, at the least to enjoy nature’s bounty of vitamin D and for the stimulation of the pineal and other glands. Being outdoors also leads to more exercise. Yet, how many parents ensure that their children spend the requisite amount of time outdoors each day?

For children, the threat of spending too much time indoors is perilous for other reasons. More than ever, children today are subject to Type II diabetes and other afflictions normally associated with adults.

All the above points to the conclusion that the harm in masking children and restricting their mobility leads to more long term harm for them than COVID.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Education

Texas School District Says Enough is Enough

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Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

BREAKING: The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in North Texas voted last night to:

1) Ban the teaching of critical race theory. 

2) Wait until students are in the fifth grade to teach them sexual orientation and gender identity. 

3) Ban boys from playing in girls’ sports.

4) Encourage the use of pronouns that align with student’s biological gender and require them to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with their biological gender.

5) Require that library materials be posted online and readily available for review by parents.

6) Not teach The New York Times “1619 Project”.

7) Implement a strict process for reviewing library books, so as to allow To Kill A Mockingbird and disallow Daddy, Papa, and Me and others.

It seems nearly incomprehensible that a school district would have to vote on measures like these. In fact, to many thoughtful Americans, it seems utterly Orwellian. How can truths about gender and the proper use of pronouns suddenly seem controversial rather than commonsensical?

Why does it seem radical to return power to parents and reaffirm biological reality? Or to keep boys from dominating girls in sports? Or to let students read revisionist history and propaganda about their nation on their own time? Why teach something that cannot withstand even the lightest objective criticism? 

Perhaps the school district’s 4-3 vote is a sign that there’s hope, that the pendulum has reached its arc and is beginning to move back toward truth and reality. Maybe the radicals are on the run.

No matter what, kudos to North Texas educators for pushing back against the absurdity and reaffirming responsible education.

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Education

Make Universities Accountable for Predatory Student Loan Abuse

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The Biden administration is still talking about delivering on the President’s promise to relieve student loan debt for many Americans. There is continuing discussion on how much debt should be forgiven, how to pay for it, and whether it is fair to all those who have diligently and painfully worked to already pay off their own student loans. After all, if you’re going to eliminate student debt to buy votes, why just limit it to student debt?

Unfortunately for Biden, according to numerous sources including National Review, the executive branch has no generalized power to forgive any amount of student debt. Even Nancy Pelosi confirmed simply that “the president can’t do it. That’s not even a discussion.” The Department of Education came to the same verdict, determining that the executive branch “does not have the statutory authority to cancel, compromise, discharge, or forgive, on a blanket or mass basis, principal balances of student loans, and/or to materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof.”

Of course, even if he had the authority, forgiving student debt doesn’t make the debt go away. Reality has a way of breaking into such “freeloading” dreams. It’s pay me now, or somebody else pay me later. But why should some future taxpayer pay off anyone else’s student debt?

Whatever happened to wise warnings of “student beware.” When you get an education and agree to pay the tuition, you ought to realize that you must at some point pay for that education. You signed on the bottom line. Face your real-world responsibilities. Hopefully, you picked a degree major that will ensure a career capable of paying off your loans. Students clearly have some responsibility, but what about the universities that took advantage of the money coming from those loans?

After all, there is ample evidence that student tuitions exploded far faster than inflation when government funds became readily available for student loans. Complaints of excessive tuition increases by students trapped in their programs tended to be met with a less than caring response—pound sand!

Since 2008, the tuition cost or a four-year college degree has increased nearly 25%. In that same period, student debt has doubled, increasing by 107%. 2015 study found that a dollar of subsidized student loans results in a published tuition increase of 58 cents at a typical university, An NBER paper suggests that changes to federal student loans are more than sufficient to explain tuition increases at private nonprofit colleges. And a 2014 study found that for-profit colleges eligible for federal student aid charged tuition 78% higher than that of similar but aid-ineligible institutions.

In short, there is no doubt that tuition was rising faster than the inflation level. Evidence has been clear for decades. In 1987, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett argued that “increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities to raise their tuition, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”

Bennett pointed out in 1987 that federal student aid had risen 57 percent since 1980, while inflation had been 26 percent. A 2020 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office brought the numbers up to date: “Between 1995 and 2017, the balance of outstanding federal student loan debt increased more than sevenfold, from $187 billion to $1.4 trillion (in 2017 dollars).” What is the lesson? The more federal aid to students is available colleges raise tuition more. Salaries rise and bureaucracies expand. There are more courses, more dorms, dining halls, lavish recreational centers, and more money for endowments.

Far too many students find that once they begin their education, their schools raise the tuition at such a high rate that their debt explodes. The university builds their endowment, and the “trapped” student is compelled to finish what they started at a cost they did not expect to have to pay. In such a situation, should not the university be responsible for any increased cost above the increase in cost of living during the same time? It’s time for universities to take responsibility for their share of student debt.

The universities that benefited from these loans should have a part in footing the bill. That means universities that raked in millions to inflate endowments should be holding the bag for those who can’t afford to pay their loans. With universities holding hundreds of billions of dollars in tax-free endowments, any government program to relieve student debt should be completely dependent on taxing those university endowments.

It’s time to counter the Democrats’ vote-buying scheme by making lasting changes to the student loan process. That means putting universities on the hook for their predatory behavior. That will go much further than a temporary payoff that does nothing to solve what is causing the problem.

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