Thursday, August 6, 2020

School: Accept No Substitutes


Teachers’ unions across the country do not want their teachers back to the classroom.  In Florida they’ve sued the governor over that state’s efforts to require schools to offer in-person instruction. The unions say it’s a safety concern due to the Wuhan Cooties.

Angela Andrus, who teaches junior high, at a protest in Salt Lake City last week. Utah’s largest teachers' union has called for starting the school year online because of safety concerns.

But if that’s the case I have a couple questions. First, what do the following demands - that unions have tied to their agreement to return to the classroom – have to do with keeping teachers safe from cooties?

In Los Angeles:

  • a moratorium on private schools
  • defunding the police
  • increasing taxes on the wealthy
  • implementing Medicare for all
  • passing the HEROES Act, which allocates and additional $116 billion in federal education funding to the states.

Story Collins, 9, and her mother, Heather Correia, at a protest in Jacksonville, Fla., earlier this month.  Teachers in the Duval County Public Schools say it’s not safe for them to return to classrooms next month as planned. 

In New York City:

  • Cancel rents and mortgages
  • Ban on new charter schools and voucher programs
  • Massive taxes on billionaires and wall street to fund re-openings

Secondly, if this is about staying safe from cooties why are some districts opposed to teaching online classes from home?

United Dade union president,Karla Hernandez-Mats, said her members were willing to follow a more traditional schedule, but many teachers have expressed anxiety about how they and their homes would look on camera during live teaching.”

Sounds like they don't feel like cleaning their house.

Of course, there are plenty of teachers who want to go back to the classroom.

“I’m a public servant, and I’m ready to serve wherever I’m needed,” said Carlotta Pope, a high school English teacher in Brooklyn.

But the unions don’t wish to hear from those teachers, if they’re not spouting the official party line they want them to just shut up - despite the fact that many have acknowledged the fact that classroom education is essential.

But even as unions exert their influence, they face enormous public and political pressure because of widespread acknowledgment that getting parents back to work requires functioning school systems, and that remote learning failed many children this spring, deepening achievement gaps by race and income.

So given all this why are teachers’ unions still demanding that schools remain closed? The same people who, when negotiating higher teacher salaries and smaller class sizes, claim that it’s all “for the children” and  insist they’re putting “children first” now seem to be putting them last. It’s almost as if they don’t think they are providing an essential service. Kristen McConnell disagrees. In an article titled I’m a Nurse in New York. Teachers Should Do Their Jobs, Just Like I Did she argues that if nurses – and grocery clerks – are essential then so are teachers.

So I can understand that teachers are nervous about returning to school. But they should take a cue from their fellow essential workers and do their job. Even people who think there’s a fundamental difference between a nurse and a teacher in a pandemic must realize that there isn’t one between a grocery-store worker and a teacher, in terms of obligation. People who work at grocery stores in no way signed up to expose themselves to disease, but we expected them to go to work, and they did. If they had not, society would have collapsed. What do teachers think will happen if working parents cannot send their children to school? Life as we know it simply will not go on.

  The unions should be careful as they’re likely to be confused with the extortionists and/or Marxists associated with BLM. Of course I’m assuming that’s a bad thing.