Parents Resort to Extreme Tactics in Ongoing School Masking Debates
State-level bans on mask mandates and school districts’ decisions to ignore them have both drawn fire from parents.
Escalating Battles Over Masking
The fight over mask mandates in schools has continued to escalate in recent weeks, driving some parents to violence and others to unusual methods of protest.
On Wednesday, the father of a high school student in Florida was arrested and charged with child abuse after allegedly pushing a student over a masking dispute.
According to NBC News, the man, Dan Bauman, was recording his own daughter entering the school without a mask when another girl tried to grab his phone. Bauman reportedly pushed the girl into a fence and twisted her arm “in an aggressive manner” before a school resource officer and a security guard pulled him off her.
Elsewhere in Texas, Tom Leonard, the superintendent of Eanes Independent School District, wrote in a letter to parents and staff last week detailing “a few sad moments” in the first week of the school year.
In one instance outlined by Leonard, a parent in the district assaulted a teacher by tearing off her face mask while other parents yelled at a different teacher.
On the opposite side of the debate, a dad in Texas stripped down to his underwear during a school board meeting Monday to argue that face-coverings in schools are necessary after the Dripping Springs Independent School District announced that masking would be optional.
“At work, they make me wear this jacket. I hate it. They make me wear this shirt and tie. I hate it,” the parent, James Akers, said while taking off the items of clothing.
Akers continued, amid cheers from the audience, arguing that people have to obey rules they may not like, like traffic laws and dress codes, but such policies are necessary for the safety and protection of society.
“It’s simple protocol, people,” he said while standing in his underwear as guards came to escort him away. “We follow certain rules for a very good reason.”
A Spotlight on Florida and Texas
While other extreme examples in the school mask debate have been documented in other states, Florida and Texas have received the most national attention for the mandate bans imposed by their governors.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has repeatedly threatened schools that disobey his executive order prohibiting mask requirements with funding cuts and other sanctions regardless of the legal questions over his authority to do so.
Despite those threats, several of Florida’s largest school districts have decided to buck the governor as the state continues to report the nation’s highest hospitalization rate and second-highest new caseloads.
As of Tuesday, the majority of public school students in the state are now being required to wear masks after two additional school districts approved mandates.
Similar battles have taken place in Texas, where several judges have blocked Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to prevent mask mandates in the state.
On Wednesday, a state district judge issued a temporary injunction against Abbott’s ban, ruling it cannot be enforced in Dallas County on the grounds that it impedes the ability of local officials to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
However, on Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the ban could stay in place while the legal proceedings played out.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Washington Post) (Bloomberg)
White Supremacist Propaganda Reached Record High in 2022, ADL Finds
“We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
White supremacist propaganda in the U.S. reached record levels in 2022, according to a report published Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center of Extremism.
The ADL found over 6,700 cases of white supremacist propaganda in 2022, which marks a 38% jump from the nearly 4,900 cases the group found in 2021. It also represents the highest number of incidents ever recorded by the ADL.
The propaganda tallied by the anti-hate organization includes the distribution of racist, antisemitic, and homophobic flyers, banners, graffiti, and more. This propaganda has spread substantially since 2018, when the ADL found just over 1,200 incidents.
“There’s no question that white supremacists and antisemites are trying to terrorize and harass Americans with their propaganda,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “We cannot sit idly by as these extremists pollute our communities with their hateful trash.”
The report found that there were at least 50 white supremacist groups behind the spread of propaganda in 2022, but 93% of it came from just three groups. One of those groups was also responsible for 43% of the white supremacist events that took place last year.
White supremacist events saw a startling uptick of their own, with the ADL documenting at least 167, a 55% jump from 2021.
Propaganda was found in every U.S. state except for Hawaii, and events were documented in 33 states, most heavily in Massachusetts, California, Ohio, and Florida.
“The sheer volume of white supremacist propaganda distributions we are documenting around the country is alarming and dangerous,” Oren Segal, Vice President of the ADL’s Center on Extremism said in a statement. “Hardly a day goes by without communities being targeted by these coordinated, hateful actions, which are designed to sow anxiety and create fear.”
“We need a whole-of-society approach to combat this activity, including elected officials, community leaders, and people of good faith coming together and condemning this activity forcefully,” Segal continued.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (The Hill) (The New York Times)
Adidas Financial Woes Continue, Company on Track for First Annual Loss in Decades
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
Adidas’ split with musician Kanye West has left the company with financial problems due to surplus Yeezy products, putting the sportswear giant in the position to potentially suffer its first annual loss in over 30 years.
Adidas dropped West last year after he made a series of antisemitic remarks on social media and other broadcasts. His Yeezy line was a staple for Adidas, and the surplus product is due, in part, to the brand’s own decision to continue production during the split.
According to CEO Bjorn Gulden, Adidas continued production of only the items already in the pipeline to prevent thousands of people from losing their jobs. However, that has led to the unfortunate overabundance of Yeezy sneakers and clothes.
On Wednesday, Gulden said that selling the shoes and donating the proceeds makes more sense than giving them away due to the Yeezy resale market — which has reportedly shot up 30% since October.
“If we sell it, I promise that the people who have been hurt by this will also get something good out of this,” Gulden said in a statement to the press.
However, Gulden also said that West is entitled to a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Yeezys per his royalty agreement.
Adidas announced in February that, following its divergence from West, it is facing potential sales losses totaling around $1.2 billion and profit losses of around $500 million.
If it decides to not sell any more Yeezy products, Adidas is facing a projected annual loss of over $700 million.
Outside of West, Adidas has taken several heavy profit blows recently. Its operating profit reportedly fell by 66% last year, a total of more than $700 million. It also pulled out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine last year, which cost Adidas nearly $60 million dollars. Additionally, China’s “Zero Covid” lockdowns last year caused in part a 36% drop in revenue for Adidas compared to years prior.
As a step towards a solution, Gulden announced that the company is slashing its dividends from 3.30 euros to 0.70 euro cents per share pending shareholder approval.
Adidas has labeled 2023 a “transition year” for the company.
“Adidas has all the ingredients to be successful. But we need to put our focus back on our core: product, consumers, retail partners, and athletes,” Gulden said. “I am convinced that over time we will make Adidas shine again. But we need some time.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)
Immigration Could Be A Solution to Nursing Home Labor Shortages
98% of nursing homes in the United States are experiencing difficulty hiring staff.
The Labor Crisis
A recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper has offered up a solution to the nursing home labor shortage: immigration.
According to a 2022 American Health Care Association survey, six in ten nursing homes are limiting new patients due to staffing issues. The survey also says that 87% of nursing homes have staffing shortages and 98% are experiencing difficulty hiring.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) outlined in their paper that increased immigration could help solve the labor shortage in nursing homes. Immigrants make up 19% of nursing home workers.
With every 10% increase in female immigration, nursing assistant hours go up by 0.7% and registered nursing hours go up by 1.1% And with that same immigration increase, short-term hospitalizations of nursing home residents go down by 0.6%.
Additionally, the State Department issued 145% more EB-3 documents, which are employment-based visas, for healthcare workers in the 2022 fiscal year than in 2019, suggesting that more people are coming to the U.S. to work in health care.
However, according to Skilled Nursing News, in August of 2022, the approval process from beginning to end for an RN can take between seven to nine months.
Displeasure about immigration has exploded since Pres. Joe Biden took office in 2021. According to a Gallup study published in February, around 40% of American adults want to see immigration decrease. That is a steep jump from 19% in 2021, and it is the highest the figure has been since 2016.
However, more than half of Democrats still are satisfied with immigration and want to see it increased. But with a divided Congress, the likelihood of any substantial immigration change happening is pretty slim.