Progressives like to brag that they prize science over politics. Indeed, it’s a major talking point in their effort to “transform” America from the greatest nation on Earth to, well, something else. But one look at the debate over reopening schools this fall shows just how absurd that assertion really is.
Los Angeles, home to the nation’s second-largest school district, is a case in point. The city has long been governed by far-left Democrats, to its detriment. But the local teachers’ union really takes the cake when it comes to extremist positions on COVID-19 and school closures.
The 35,000-strong union put out a staff “research paper” — it was in fact merely regurgitated leftist talking points and propaganda — telling local politicians they would refuse opening unless, among other things, there was a “moratorium” on charter schools and the police were defunded.
Among the “other things” in the union demands were a national Medicare-for-All program, new taxes on the wealthy, and, of course, a federally funded infusion of cash for the near-bankrupt Los Angeles school district.
The proposal would place so many restrictions on students and their interaction with teachers that it would make the educational experience nearly meaningless. But the document went way beyond just talking about education. Here’s a taste:
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States underscores the deep equity and justice challenges arising from our profoundly racist, intensely unequal society. Unlike other countries that recognize protecting lives is the key to protecting livelihoods, the United States has chosen to prioritize profits over people. The Trump administration’s attempt to force people to return to work on a large scale depends on restarting physical schools so parents have child care.
So much for “it’s all about the kids.” Or “science.” It’s really all about Karl Marx – and more money and more control.
Los Angeles is an admittedly extreme example, but similar things are happening around the country in other union-run school districts.
Unfortunately, most parents don’t fully understand the damage being done to their kids as a result of the teachers unions’ COVID-19 power-play. It’s a real pity.
As we noted, so-called Democrat “progressives,” which includes teachers unions bosses and members, like to say that “science” should drive public debate over COVID-19 and school openings.
Fair enough. So let’s look at the “science,” shall we?
One of the surprising revelations from the COVID-19 nightmare is that doctors and scientists strongly agree that it would be better for young people to go back to school in the fall than to stay at home.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, told The Hill last week that keeping schools closed this fall “is a greater public health threat to the children than having the schools reopen.”
That follows a June 25 American Academy of Pediatrics suggestion that local officials “should start (their deliberations on the coming school year) with a goal of having students physically present in school.”
The AAP noted that not only are kids the least likely to have serious coronavirus infections, but that any actions taken should consider “the known harms to children, adolescents, families and the community by keeping children at home.”
It later backtracked, issuing a “joint statement” under pressure from the two largest national teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, along with the education bureaucrats’ interest group, the School Superintendents Association.
Sure, the statement pays lip service to science, saying that “Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools,” and that “Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics.”
Unfortunately, the science on the transmission of coronavirus by kids at school is pretty clear.
A number of studies and reports in the U.S. and around the world (here, here, here, here and here, for example) show that, in the words of one study, “children play a minor role in the spread of the novel coronavirus. The virus is mainly spread between adults and from adult family members to children.”
So the medical danger to kids of reopening schools is minimal or nonexistent, while the danger of having parents out of work and unable to pay their bills is very real and has already affected millions due to needless lockdowns.
Think rising suicide rates, more child and spousal abuse, soaring mortgage default rates, increased stress and depression. Better for kids to be in school, learning.
And this is a commonly held idea among leading doctors and researchers.
“Of course, we can (reopen schools.) Everyone else in the world and the western world, our peer nations are doing it. We are the outlier here,” Dr. Scott Atlas, former head of Stanford University Medical Center’s neuroradiology department, told Fox News on Wednesday.
“If you believe in science, science says that 99.97% of deaths in the United States are in people over 15, 99.9 are people over 24,” he added. “The hospitalization rate for influenza according to the CDC is much greater than from COVID-19 for children.”
We don’t close schools because of the flu. Why do it for the coronavirus?
“There is virtually zero risk for children getting something serious or dying from this disease,” says Scott Atlas. “Anyone who thinks schools should be closed is not talking about the children. It has nothing to do with the children’s risk.”
A study by World Bank education economist Harry Anthony Padrinos showed that, among rich nations such as the U.S., an additional year of schooling adds about 10% to a child’s lifetime income.
Based on that, since poor and disadvantaged kids are most likely to be hurt by continued school closures, keeping doors closed this fall could add to inequality and poverty.
It seems clear that the teacher unions and others pushing to keeps schools closed in the fall aren’t really interested in science. Nor do they have kids’ best interests in mind. Instead, they are more interested in their own pocketbooks, expanding their own power and getting rid of a certain president for whom they have a near-pathological loathing.
Yes, they should be ashamed. But shame has long ago left the building.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board