In the wake of the Black Lives Matters protests and the increasing calls to “defund the police” (whatever that means), it’s not encouraging to read reports like this one from the Manhattan Institute. As explained by Robert Verbruggen at National Review Online, several provisions in collective bargaining agreements have made it more difficult to investigate police officer wrongdoing. This doesn’t justify the over-the-top anti-police rhetoric, but these are all items which should be carefully re-considered.
As difficult as it has been for police officers and their unions over the past year, no one has discredited themselves more than teachers unions. Their intransigence against re-opening public schools flies in the face of science and has relegated many children – especially the most vulnerable – to a year of almost worthless virtual “learning.” And now, even as vaccines begin to rollout, some don’t seem to be that much of a hurry to get back into the classroom. The same Robert Verbruggen relays his experience in Fairfax County, Virginia:
I recently got an email from the school district saying that “access to the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all FCPS employees” and “will be administered . . . beginning as early as Saturday, January 16.” Meanwhile, the district just delayed in-person instruction again for at least a month, at which point a new, to-be-determined plan will be announced.
He also relays news out of California where, despite impending teacher vaccinations, there doesn’t seem to be a rush to re-open school.
But vaccinating teachers may not be enough to earn support for a quick reopening of all schools from teachers’ unions, who must consent to reopening plans.
“It’s certainly an important part, but remember, right now there’s no research evidence that the vaccine alone eliminates or reduces transmissions,” said Claudia Briggs, spokeswoman for the California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union. “It reduces illness.”
Who are we protecting by refusing to open schools even after teachers are vaccinated? If the teachers are vaccinated, they don’t need to worry about transmission. As for the children, I am at the point where I think there’s no substantive difference in the mental capacities of those who refuse to accept the election results and those who fret about COVID transmission among children. The risk to otherwise healthy children from COVID is just about zero. Moreover, when schools follow basic CDC guidelines, the amount of transmission has been miniscule.
Schools are not anywhere close to being a major source of COVID transmission. Even without vaccinations being widely distributed, their continued closure has been a national disgrace. If vaccinated teachers still refuse (or the unions which represent them refuse on their behalf) to return to school, then it will be way past time (if it isn’t already) to question their oversized political power.