Researchers for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have concluded that “there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.” In other words, schools are not super spreaders of COVID-19. There’s barely any spread from children in the schools that have been open at all. CDC guidelines are now recommending that students return to in-person classes where proper safety protocols are in place. But public school teachers unions care nothing about science. They could not care less that a whole generation of children is being left behind educationally and suffering serious psychological damage from social isolation. They demand that all their members have the right to continue working remotely, even though health experts and education specialists say that in-person instruction is too important to delay any longer.
Doctors and nurses did not insist on using only telemedicine until they thought it was safe to provide in-person care. Health care workers risked their lives to save others, including teachers, rather than put their own personal safety first. Food producers and grocery workers didn’t go on strike. They showed up for work, feeding Americans, including the teachers who continue to stay home while collecting their paychecks.
President Biden wants Congress to pass legislation providing $130 billion for public elementary, middle and high schools, on top of the billions of dollars the schools have already received. “School closures have disproportionately impacted the learning of Black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities and English language learners,” Biden said. Then why isn’t Biden demanding that the teachers unions stand down in their resistance to science and allow the public schools to re-open? The reason is simple. Biden owes the unions big time for their support. His selection of union-friendly candidates for high level positions in the Department of Education is telling. What the teachers unions want is what they will get with this administration.
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is one of the more militant teachers unions in the country. It is poised to call a strike of its members rather than comply with the order of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot requiring Chicago’s public school teachers to return to their classrooms. Union leaders believe that they know better than the health experts when it would be safe to resume in-person learning. Some of CTU’s demands do not even have anything to do with school health safety. “Counselors not Cops” is one of their demands. Rent abatement is another.
In the war of wills, Mayor Lightfoot blinked first. She backed off her threat to lock striking teachers out of their online teaching platforms on February 2nd and said that she was “calling for a forty-eight-hour cooling off period that will hopefully lead to a final resolution on all open issues.”
There is only one appropriate resolution – follow the same path taken by Chicago’s private and parochial schools where their students have been safely attending class in person for months. These schools have come through for their kids while keeping the kids and their teachers safe. Tens of thousands of Chicago’s public school students — many of whom are children of color in vulnerable communities – deserve the same opportunity for a quality educational environment that only in-person learning can provide.
The Chicago school system has addressed legitimate safety concerns, including enhanced cleaning protocols, required face coverings, and daily health screenings. Teachers will be treated as front-line essential workers entitled to priority in receiving vaccinations, beginning this month. But the CTU demands that its members receive their vaccinations before being required to return to their classrooms. Police and firefighters have not made such demands as a condition of performing their public service duties.
One of the Chicago Teachers Union leaders, Sarah Chambers, didn’t seem so concerned about the coronavirus when she jetted off for a Puerto Rico vacation at the end of last year. Chambers appeared to be having a splendid time, without mask, relaxing by the pool. However, returning to the classroom fully masked is another matter. While lolling around at her vacation spot, Chambers wrote: “Hearing of an educator revolution happening. Tons of members are emailing their admin: I’ll be asserting my right to continue to work in a safe remote environment on January 4th, 2021. I have signed the pledge, along with over 8,000+ union educators to continue to work remotely.”
Why would Chambers even bother coming back to Chicago if she insists on continuing to “work” remotely? Chambers and her comrades could work remotely from socialist Venezuela, where she and other CTU executives visited in 2019 and lavished praise on the Maduro regime.
Joe Biden needs to have his own Sister Souljah moment and publicly repudiate the radical teachers unions whose anti-science obstructionism is hurting many children.
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