While there is likely nothing shocking about this to those of you who pay attention, the single greatest threat to the education of America’s children during this pandemic will be the teachers’ unions. In the last few weeks, there are multiple examples, like the Chicago Teachers Union for example, refusing to return to the classroom. Instead they are pushing for continued at-home, virtual learning. All the while, these same “leaders” within our community are vacationing in the Caribbean while advocating for virtual learning. It must be nice to be able to enjoy the beach while your students and their parents or guardians are struggling to juggle jobs and online learning. The hypocrisy should sicken all of us. Likewise, in my neighboring state of Maryland, the teachers’ union is claiming that Md. Gov. Hogan’s call to reopen schools is a threat to their safety. In Fairfax, Virginia, teachers have been prioritized to receive vaccinations ahead of other high risk groups and so far, thousands have received their first vaccination, and yet, there is no current plan to open schools which creates the question, why should you be prioritized?
Furthermore, there is little research at this point that supports the position of the teachers’ unions. In fact, three recent and separate studies have highlighted that actually, when reasonable measures are taken, there is minimal risk of transmission in the classroom between teachers and students. Certainly when the pandemic started and there was much to learn about the virus, the benefit of closing schools outweighed the potential impacts of eliminating in-person learning. However, we are quickly approaching the one-year mark and the information that we have available to us is vast compared to last year. It goes without saying that at this point in time, the initial benefit of continued remote learning no longer outweighs the risk of in-person education. Of course, with proper measures and screening in place. Therefore, we must wonder, why are unions heavily against a return to in-person education? Is it laziness? Or is there some other motivation behind their logic because certainly it’s not science-based.
Now, before you think to yourself that these revelations are an expected opinion from a conservative mind, consider what’s occurring in other developed countries. Schools are open for business and students are learning in-person. What’s perhaps even more important is that they are once again engaging with their peers from a social development perspective which is almost as, if not more important, than the education itself. Of course, there are aberrations and exceptions to every rule and for every open, non-unionized, private school, there are stories of teachers infecting students who end up in the hospital, but this is not a life Americans should lead nor is it a sustainable model.
If this is the apparent conclusion of multiple individual unions, then why is there no national strategy? Why are there so many disparate plans and random closures with little rationale? Should we accept these decisions that seem poorly thought-out from people who are not public health experts? Of course not. So why should union bosses foist that mantle of responsibility on the untrained and overburdened shoulders of parents in the home? They’re making poor decisions with poor reasons and poor rationales with an absolutely lack of scientific support.
In the meantime, parents are not only working they are also being forced to do the job of teachers and they’re struggling. The economy is suffering because businesses are closing, and parents have had to quit their jobs to teach their children. Again, it’s unsustainable. We need some sort of coming together for a national strategy to reopen schools. It will involve risk. But it’s a risk we must take or the ripple effect through the next five decades of an uneducated or under-educated workforce will be clear and present.
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