While Americans across the country continue to work despite the many hardships of COVID-19, teachers’ unions want none of it. They want to keep schools closed, which will benefit their own members greatly but seriously harm school-age kids.
The Twitter hashtag “edupocalypse” has seen some use in recent weeks and months as our nation’s schools closed down and all but stopped teaching. It’s leading to what we think can be called, without exaggeration, an educational crisis. Public schools may never be the same.
You can blame it on the shameful display of self interest by a powerful, politically connected lobby that spends millions on elections every year to make sure they have good friends in Washington, D.C., and every state capital: the teachers’ unions, in particular the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
Guess who their “best friends” are? Hint: They control the House of Representatives. That’s right, since 1990, America’s teachers’ unions have given more than $207 million to political campaigns, according to Open Secrets. Over that time, they’ve never given less than 93% of their total donations to the Democrats and average just over 95.7% per two-year political cycle.
The average for Republicans over that 30-year span: 4%.
We mention this because the far-left-of-center teachers’ unions seem to be in a full-court press on keeping schools from opening, despite plentiful evidence from studies that show it’s in children’s best interest to return.
The New York Times, to its credit, revealed the sweeping nature of the teachers’ agenda and their bold attempt to blackmail America’s parents. And it appears to be backfiring:
“(E)ven as unions exert their influence, they face enormous public and political pressure because of widespread acknowledgment that getting parents back to work requires functioning school systems, and that remote learning failed many children this spring, deepening achievement gaps by race and income.”
The Times piece adds: “Some critics see teachers’ unions as trying to have it both ways: Reluctant to return to classrooms, but also resistant in some districts to providing a full day of remote school via tools like live video.”
The idea that for unions this is “all about the students” is false.
“More than 10 teachers unions – including those in Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul – have joined up with the Democratic Socialists of America to say that ‘schools cannot continue in this crisis without the resources our students need and deserve,’ ” Reason Magazine recently commented.
It went on to note the egregiousness of the local and national unions’ extreme demands:
“For starters, those unions want a national ban on evictions, a moratorium on charter schools, an end to voucher programs, and the abolition of standardized testing. They also want a ‘massive infusion of federal money’ – though it is unclear how much that actually is – paid for by, of course, ‘taxing billionaires and Wall Street.’ “
By “massive infusion of money” unions mean more pay for teachers doing less.
Meanwhile, apart from the quasi-Marxist blather, there really is no reason to keep kids out of school.
As the Federalist points out, “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the nearly 150,000 Wuhan virus cases in the United States from Feb. 12 to April 2, only about 2,500 were in kids. That’s a mere 1.7% of all infected, which is itself a minority of the country.”
In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that since the pandemic began, at the state level children have accounted for just 0-0.8% of fatalities. Twenty states have had none.
COVID-19 is a major threat mainly to elderly people with lots of comorbidity factors, not to healthy kids. Teachers can be safe by taking the normal precautions of masking up and social distancing – just as store cashiers, doctors and nurses, plumbers, electricians and so many other working people are doing today.
Falling behind academically is a big problem for America’s kids. As studies have shown consistently, lower academic achievement leads to lower incomes and can contribute to all sorts of social ills, ranging from higher levels of drug abuse and alcoholism to higher rates of suicide and mental illness.
What remains unsaid in all this, of course, is that unionizing teachers was a massive mistake in the first place. President John F. Kennedy did some good things while in office. But one of his worst was allowing public workers to unionize in 1962.
Kennedy’s executive order created a slippery slope. By “the late 1960s and 1970s, federal and state union-promoting laws produced unprecedented strikes by teachers, garbage collectors, postal workers and others, even though every state prohibited strikes by public employees,” according to a 2012 piece in the Wall Street Journal. This isn’t a new problem.
Today, teachers’ unions have unprecedented power over how your kids are educated. The national associations, and their state and local counterparts, have immense clout within school systems. They can dictate per-student spending, class size, administrative decisions and, of course, curriculum and teachers’ pay and perks.
Twenty-first century students know little about their nation’s actual history. They’re taught we’re all racists and America is both immoral and irredeemable. Oh, and capitalism is evil. By the time they’re in college, they’re already spouting neo-Marxist nonsense. It’s a big reason why we’re having riots today.
This is galling, and not acceptable. We would encourage all parents who genuinely care about their school-age kids to look carefully at how the unions wreck educations.
Union bosses know they can fight, buy-off left-wing politicians, and slam the brakes on meaningful school reforms. They wait out each new generation of parents, knowing full well that their kids will soon be out of school and then they’ll have a new group of parents to bully, confuse and placate.
If we’re all lucky, this generation of parents will tire of the lies and promises not kept by the unions and the administrative educrats, and begin seriously looking at alternatives, including charter schools, proven private-school programs, and successful online academies, among other elements of school choice.
At the very least, parents should have the right to opt out of a dysfunctional educational system. They should have real “choice”: Their tax money spent on local failing schools should be rebated for the schooling of their choice.
Even so, in the long run, the goal should be to de-unionize public schools. As an experiment, it’s been an abysmal failure.
As an I&I op-ed recently explained, “the latest DOE data show that inflation-adjusted spending per public school student is at an all-time high and has grown by 20% since 2000, 93% since 1980, and (380%) … since 1960.” And yet, scores on national tests haven’t budged.
Can we change this? We can, but it will be hard.
“Unions block the reforms that will structurally change a broken system and in return, promise increased funding, which will, in turn, be drained away by the broken system,” wrote Wisconsin public school teacher Daniel Buck for the Foundation for Economic Education in early 2018. “Namely, they oppose school choice, merit-based pay, standardized tests, and the Praxis, an entrance exam for teachers.”
Nothing has changed. And nothing will, as long as Democrats control one or both houses of Congress. They’re in the unions’ pockets.
This is the “edupocalypse” in a nutshell. More spending, more left-wing political indoctrination, less real learning and lower test scores. It’s time to crack the shell, and make real reforms to our educational system before it’s too late. And it starts by eliminating teachers’ unions and giving control back to parents, taxpayers and local teachers. Or at least letting them choose to opt out of a failing system.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board