I have rebutted the talking point that Democrats are uniquely the “party of science” by noting their support for abortion on demand, buttressed by soundbites about “clumps of cells.” After COVID, the largely Democrat-led opposition to opening schools during COVID will be the second data point proving their weak devotion to science and data.
The latest teacher-led temper tantrum in the face of potentially opening schools is taking place in Chicago, where 71% of teachers voted to maintain distance “learning.” In other school districts, teachers are threatening not to return to school not only until they have vaccines, but all the kids are vaccinated as well. The latter threat is absurd for a couple of reasons. If the teachers are vaccinated, why would they be concerned about the kids getting vaccinated? More importantly, the vaccines haven’t even been tested on children, and may not be for another year. Considering that an otherwise healthy child’s chances of dying of coronavirus are a tad less than their chance of being struck by lightning, it makes sense for them remain at the bottom of the vaccine waiting list.
The party of science and data continually ignore the data showing that schools have not been a major source of COVID transmission. To the extent that there have been any mass transmission events, they have occurred in schools where safety protocols have not been safeguarded. But in the places which have observed the safety protocols, transmission has been almost non-existent.
Christine Rosen expresses her frustration, and suggests some ways to deal with these intransigent teachers.
Joe Biden should take a page from Ronald Reagan: In 1981, when the nation’s 13,000 air traffic controllers went on strike after Reagan issued an executive order (backed up by a federal judge) demanding that they do their jobs, he fired the 11,359 who refused to return and issued a lifetime ban on their ability to work in the field again. Air traffic came to a standstill for a short time, but by calling the union’s bluff, Reagan diminished their power and hired a new generation of controllers to replace them. Biden should encourage school districts to do the same.
Some already are. Chicago officials threatened to withhold pay from teachers who refused to show up to work in their classrooms. In the process, the city exposed the utter corruption of many of its teachers, who complained that it was “cruel and illegal” for them not to get paid even after they refused to return to work.
If the Biden administration won’t deal firmly with the unions, parents need to organize and start lobbying their school boards (and, if necessary, recall public officials who put the demands of teachers’ unions ahead of the wellbeing of children.) Those who can afford to are already voting with their feet by withdrawing their children from the public school system. An increasing number of state legislators are considering proposals for school reform that would allow states to fund students (and allow more options for school choice) rather than continuing to throw taxpayers’ money at underperforming schools and their unionized teachers. Lawmakers in Virginia are considering legislation requiring public schools to teach in-person to receive funding.
This is all well and good, but I expect no pushback. The problem is the teachers are supported in their actions by a good chunk of the parents – most parents, in some regions. Most schools which have been open to in-person instruction since the beginning have offered a virtual option, and the number of kids who are attending school virtually in these settings often hovers around 50%.
If parents are quite content to treat their children like veal, where is the mass uprising going to come from? Well-heeled suburbanites aren’t about to raise much a fuss. They either support school closures or can otherwise provide alternative teaching arrangements for their children. Urban parents who most desperately need their children to be in school (and whose children most desperately need to be in school) are too busy trying to provide ends meet to organize protests. So they are stuck and unheard.
When Montgomery County, Maryland threatened to (unlawfully) prevent private schools from re-opening, they were met by the fury of thousands of angry suburban parents. Well, that, and a competent governor concerned more about children’s welfare than placating teachers unions. The schools opened, and have been opened without interruption or breakout. I fear urban parents do not wield that kind of clout.
And so teachers continue to hold children hostage to their political games. I have been reluctant to blame teachers to this point, and instead rather have focused my ire on politicians and unions. But I’ve had it with the teachers as well. Certainly not all of them. A good number are as frustrated by this situation as parents. But it is evident they are a minority. As for the rest of them, they have proven themselves to be less essential to society than grocery store employees.
They should be fired. They will not be.
There will be no reckoning.