Skip to main content

1889 Institute's Statement Regarding School Closures


The 1889 Institute, an Oklahoma think tank, has released the following statement regarding Joy Hofmeister’s proposal to keep schools closed for the remainder of the school year.

We at the 1889 Institute consider Joy Hofmeister’s proposal to close Oklahoma’s schools for the rest of the school year a gross overreaction to the coronavirus situation. Even in the best of times and circumstances, suddenly shifting every student in the state from traditional classrooms to online distance learning will have negative educational consequences. This in addition to the economic burden on two-earner families forced to completely reorder their lives with schools closed.

We believe many of our leaders have overreacted to worst-case scenarios presented by well-intended health experts with no training or sense of proportion in weighing the collateral damage of shutting down our economy versus targeting resources to protect the truly vulnerable. We say reopen the schools and stop the madness. Only truly vulnerable students and staff should stay home.

Our position is buttressed by Dr. David L. Katz, a specialist in preventive medicine and public health, president of True Health Initiative and the founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. In a recent New York Times editorial, he suggested a more surgical approach given that the current actions shutting down our society and economy are likely worse than the disease. He suggests only those over 75, and other high-risk individuals, shelter in place. Everyone else should take sanitation precautions, practice social distancing, and carry on normally, with those over 60 being especially careful. 

No children less than 10 years old have been documented to have died from Covid-19. Yet, the response on the part of local and national leaders has been as if every individual is at mortal risk and grossly disproportionate to the danger. The same point has been made by Dr. John P.A. Ioannidis, co-director of Stanford’s Meta-Research Innovation Center and professor of medicine, biomedical data science, statistics, and epidemiology and population health of Stanford University. His data analysis indicates that the response to Covid-19 may well be “a fiasco in the making.”

We should follow the advice of Dr. Katz and have truly vulnerable populations shelter themselves while the rest of us carry on our daily lives and provide for the vulnerable, with resources readily available but for hoarding caused by some leaders’ overreactions. This approach would maximize protection for those truly at risk while minimizing losses for the rest of society, including Oklahoma’s children and their parents. 

Byron Schlomach, 1889 Institute Director. He can be contacted at bschlomach@1889institute.org.

Popular posts from this blog

In Response to COVID-19, the Oklahoma Supreme Court Claims Power to “Suspend” Valid Laws

I have referred often to the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s “lawmaking” or to justices acting like “legislators in black robes” as rhetorical devices intended to illustrate a point about judicial activism. I never imagined the Court would go so far as to actually begin legislating. With its latest actions, however, it seems the Court views the exigencies created by our current public health woes as a greenlight to literally change the law in Oklahoma.
On Friday of last week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued (and the Court of Criminal Appeals signed off on) an “Emergency Joint Order” declaring that “all deadlines and procedures whether prescribed by statute, rule or order in any civil, juvenile or criminal case, shall be suspended through May 15, 2020” due to COVID-19 (emphasis added). The Court made this suspension specifically applicable to statutes of limitation in all civil cases. The Court had, on March 16, issued a similar order suspending deadlines for 30 days.
These Emergency Orders w…

Smart People in Charge Screwing Up: Panic over COVID-19

Could the economic shutdown cure for coronavirus be worse than the disease? It appears more likely every day.
As an undergraduate at Texas A&M, I was required to read an essay by Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome and a bona fide genius. I recall Fuller complaining that we hadn’t built railroad tracks with stainless steel, since it doesn’t rust. In commenting on the piece, I pointed out that stainless steel was costly compared to regular steel and Fuller failed to recognize this. It’s more cost effective to use regular steel tracks, which wear out long before they rust away, than to use stainless, despite the likelihood that stainless would wear longer.
We economists point out the reality that there are always costs when choices are made (i.e., scarcity always exists, thus the “dismal science” moniker). Costs might not always be easy to identify, but one thing is absolutely certain, failure to account for the fact that actions and choices always have consequences, pos…

Breaking the ABA’s Law School Cartel: A Proposal to Make Oklahoma Top-Ten in Innovative Lawyer Education

Would we grant Devon Energy a government-enforced veto over whether its competitors should be issued drilling permits? Would we think it acceptable for the government to require new drug applicants to first obtain approval from Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson before applying for FDA approval? Of course not. Generally speaking, we are not in favor of foxes guarding hen houses, and our laws tend to reflect that instinct.
Nevertheless, when it comes to deciding who can and cannot become a lawyer, nearly all states (including Oklahoma) have delegated the design of their hen house security plan to the fox’s self-interested trade association, the American Bar Association (ABA). This is the argument of my policy analysis released today, Breaking the ABA’s Law School Cartel: A Proposal to Make Oklahoma Top-Ten in Innovative Lawyer Education.
The ABA, a private trade association for lawyers, has a government-enforced monopoly over legal education as the only approved accreditor of law schools in…

A Cure Withheld: Education Establishment Kneecapping Distance Learning Already in Place

“We have the cure. We know it works. You’ve used it before. But you’re not allowed to use it now.”
Imagine if your government - federal, state, or local - said those words to you regarding the corona virus. You would be justifiably outraged. If you could access the cure, you would probably defy the ban on its use.
Two weeks ago my wife received an email from my step-daughter’s school. Among the expected notices that in-school instruction would be canceled for a least a few weeks due to corona virus, there was a nasty surprise. “Neither on-site nor virtual [i.e., remote, online and with no person-to-person contact] instruction can occur during the state's window of school closures.” (Emphasis added.) Note that this decision was made by the state Board of Education, not by Epic, the statewide virtual charter school we have chosen.
You see, when we moved to Oklahoma, my wife and I chose Epic because they not only seemed like they would do a better job teaching our kid (so far, in my opi…