Teachers Unions Have Abandoned Our Students By Blocking Reopening

The Guardian.com

Los Angeles County, the nation’s second-largest school district, announced this week that students will not be returning for in-person classes this fall and must instead continue to participate in the failed distance-learning experiment it initiated after the onset of COVID-19.

This decision was made not by the parents or the schools but by the teachers union, which has opposed all attempts to reopen the county’s schools.

United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents more than 35,000 teachers in the area, argued at first that the health of its members and the students they teach was the primary concern. How, they asked, would the schools be cleaned regularly with so many different people entering and exiting at all times of the day? And is it even possible for schools to enforce social distancing among young students?

These are reasonable concerns, but UTLA didn’t stop there. In a report released this week, the union made a series of demands the county must meet before its teachers will agree to go back to work. The demands include defunding the Los Angeles Police Department, implementing a federal “Medicare for All” program, enforcing several new wealth taxes, and placing a “moratorium” on all charter schools. Passing these policies, the union argued, is the only way to keep minority students truly safe.

The union’s demands are profoundly unserious. This malingering will hurt rather than help Los Angeles’s students. Study after study has proven that distance learning is not working. Young children, especially those with special needs, are facing serious setbacks that will take months, maybe even years, to address. A Reuters analysis last month found that fewer than half of 57 public school districts were even taking attendance. And in Los Angeles, UTLA made it so that schools could not mandate face-to-face online instruction.

As a result, test scores have tanked. Overall achievement has dropped, and the gap between high- and low-achieving students has become larger — not just in Los Angeles but across the country. Yet, few teachers have been willing to speak up and admit that the current situation is unsustainable. Instead, they’re hiding behind the unions while local and state officials try to find a compromise that will work for both parents and educators.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s idea of a compromise is to delay reopening the city’s schools while providing employed parents with free child care. The city will work with community centers, libraries, and other large community spaces to set up makeshift day care facilities so parents can return to work, according to the new plan.

So essentially, de Blasio is just reopening school but without the learning. Brilliant!

Here’s a better idea for de Blasio: Reopen the city’s schools. Follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which take into account the apparently minimal risk to children and the fact that the drawbacks of keeping schools closed outweigh health benefits.

Every official in this country should be following this course of action. And if that means implementing certain restrictions, such as smaller class sizes, enforced social distancing, and additional cleanings, then do that, too

Teachers unions should be working with government officials to draft these new guidelines rather than blocking all efforts to reopen. Because, at the end of the day, the students must come first. Surely, our teachers should know that.

Author : Washington Examiner

Source : Washington Examiner : Teachers unions have abandoned our students by blocking reopening