School's Out — Forever?
The cartel of teachers unions is making totally unrelated ideological demands.
If the current mindset holds — courtesy of the most successful, media-driven, fear-mongering campaign in the history of the nation — it is likely that going to school will remain off the table for the foreseeable future. And no group is more adamant about maintaining that status quo than one of America’s prominent teachers unions.
“We all want to physically open schools and be back with our students, but lives hang in the balance,” stated United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Cecily Myart-Cruz. “We need to get this right for our communities.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner concurred. “We made the decision to close school facilities before there was any occurrence of the virus at our schools, and this proved to be the right call,” he asserted. “Science was our guide then, and it will continue to be.”
Science? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 children under age 15 have died from COVID-19. By contrast, in a typical year, 190 children die of the flu, 436 from suicide, 625 from homicide, and 4,114 from unintentional deaths. Moreover, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a group representing 67,000 pediatricians, issued a release in which it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
The AAP outlined a number of guidelines that should be followed with regard to minimizing the spread of COVID, but that wasn’t the only aspect of science its experts considered. “Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation,” the release adds.
Nonetheless, if there is one aspect of this pandemic that has been held hostage by media-driven political considerations, science goes to the top of the list. Thus, when President Donald Trump warned he would pressure governors by withholding federal funds from districts that refused to open, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin accused him of wanting “to kill your kids.” When Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stated that CDC guidelines are “meant to be flexible and meant to be applied as appropriate for the situation,” and that a hybrid model of virtual and in-person learning is “not a valid choice for families,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi labeled those assertions as “appalling.”
That Sweden’s schools have remained open throughout the pandemic, and nations like Denmark, Austria, Norway, Finland, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand reopened in April and May, all without significant upticks in virus transmission? That there’s an emerging consensus that children are not significant virus spreaders?
“All over the world … from professors, teachers, mothers, in the United States and elsewhere,” people are “stunned that we are willing to just simply destroy our children on some bizarre notion that’s completely contrary to the science,” asserts Dr. Scott Atlas, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center.
Atlas is naive in one respect. The world is not in the midst of a critical election season, one that will literally determine what kind of nation we are going forward. Nor is any other country in the world afflicted with a similar number of opportunistic attorneys looking to turn even a single coronavirus death occurring in a school setting into a cash cow. Nor do other nations endure a wholly unprincipled media looking to inflict as much damage as they possibly can on the current administration.
Which brings us back to the UTLA. It has issued a policy paper in which it asserts school reopenings must be contingent not just on items addressing the pandemic but on a wholly political agenda that includes placing a moratorium on charter schools — and defunding police. “Police violence is a leading cause of death and trauma for Black people, and is a serious public health and moral issue,” the paper stated, citing assertions made by the American Public Health Association. “We must shift the astronomical amount of money devoted to policing, to education and other essential needs such as housing and public health.”
Thus, some public health is “more equal” than other public health. “Everyone who studies mental health in children is sounding the alarm; it’s not just the fear, stress, and anxiety, it’s the isolation,” columnist Jim Geraghty states. “To the extent we can get kids safely interacting with each other again — making each other laugh again — we need to do that. We cannot allow our kids to pay the price for grownups’ ideological differences or fears of lawsuits.”
Leftists say, “Yes we can.” Unions like the UTLA, and the Democrat Party that receives more than 90% of its campaign donations, are essentially a cartel. One so powerful that a child’s zip code can literally determine whether that child will receive a decent education or be trapped in one of the many union-run “failure factories” that afflict every Democrat-controlled city in the nation. It is a cartel that also despises competition, which is why the UTLA and other unions seek to undermine charter schools, even though the public favors them by a two-to-one margin — a ratio that increases to three-to-one among the black Americans about whom unions and Democrats purport to care so deeply.
“We are so cowed with fear by the unknown potential of this virus that we are willing to sacrifice everything in service to its eradication, which is not even remotely guaranteed,” writes columnist Libby Emmons. “If our nation plunges into chaos at the hands of a generation of people who know nothing about math, science, civics, history, or literature, who get their information from endless YouTube gaming videos, it will not be the fault of the pandemic, but our own.”
Emmons is also somewhat naive. Our nation has already been plunged into chaos by progressives who see that chaos as their surest route to permanent power. And just as it has for the better part of 60 years, the education cartel views thousands of students who know nothing about math, science, civics, history, or literature — and the ultimate dependency on big government such cultivated ignorance engenders — as cannon fodder for the cause.
Thus, it is hardly surprising that a Reuters analysis of 57 school districts reveals that fewer than half take attendance, approximately a third weren’t providing required services to special-needs students, and 47 of 57 are providing elementary and middle-school students with half or less than the usual face time with teachers.
The UTLA? As The Wall Street Journal reveals, its “pandemic collective-bargaining agreement prohibited schools from requiring face-to-face online instruction such as Zoom or Skype. Teachers also don’t have to work more than four hours per day.”
The kids? No classes, no sports, no clubs, no dances, no socialization, no nothing that resembles normalcy. “Keeping schools closed is a way to ensure discord and perpetrate inequity, lawlessness, and stupidity for generations to come,” Emmons warns.
Despite all denials, the educational cartel wouldn’t have it any other way.