Schools have been closed for the better part of a year now, for the putative reason that COVID-19 makes them unsafe. Only distance learning and Zoom and other online classes are safe enough for both teachers and kids, we’re told. Even though the science says otherwise, powerful teachers unions keep schools closed anyway. But why?
Let’s start with a blunt fact: The teachers unions — including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), along with a host of radicalized local unions — don’t have your kids’ best interests at heart, despite their well-funded, slick propaganda to the contrary.
They oppose reopening schools, despite overwhelming evidence they should be reopened immediately.
As a must-read piece in the American Institute for Economic Research recently noted:
Significant evidence shows that a truncated school year supplemented with online learning is vastly inferior to the education children get in-person. Virtual learning is particularly harmful to students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds who do not have sufficient resources to support their learning.
This is a looming disaster for all children, but especially for poor and minority kids.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimated that school closures could cost the 24.2 million affected U.S. students nearly 5.53 million total years of life, largely due to lower incomes, less educational achievement, and worse health outcomes.
Higher levels of drug abuse and overdoses, massive increases in mental health hospital visits, along with surging suicide rates among children have been cited by the Centers for Disease Control as stemming from pandemic school closures.
Meanwhile, fears of schools becoming incubators for renewed surges of COVID-19 infections are grossly exaggerated, other studies and data show.
Start with the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, just 168 kids 17 or under have died from COVID-19 through Dec. 19. That’s less than 0.05% of the total of nearly 300,000 COVID-19 deaths. By comparison, those aged 65 to 74 accounted for more than 21% of the total deaths.
Studies this year by peer-reviewed journals back these data up.
“COVID-19 is generally a mild disease in children, including infants,” a study in the British medical journal Lancet found.
Even the usually union-friendly New York Times was recently forced to admit: “Researchers once feared that school reopening’s might spread the virus through communities. But so far there is little evidence that it’s happening.”
The most cynical expression of unions’ lack of concern for students came earlier this year in Los Angeles, where the 35,000-member United Teachers of Los Angeles demanded, among other things, that local officials defund the police; pushed for a “moratorium” on charter schools; and insisted policymakers enact Medicare for All, provide more welfare for illegal immigrants, and levy enormous new taxes on commercial properties and “wealth.”
Of course, none of these things have anything to do with education. They’re just part of the much broader extremist agenda of the far left, which now largely controls American education.
The frightening thing is leftist teachers unions seem to have a strong ally in Joe Biden, who recently suggested that it might be better to keep schools closed all year.
So what is the unions’ price tag for reopening schools nationally? A cool $100 billion “investment,” as the left calls it. Smells more like ransom to us. The Democrat progressives and unions are holding your kids hostage.
Too cynical, you say? Not at all. Unions have been behind the closures all along.
As a recent study of 835 school districts asserted: “Using data on the reopening decisions of 835 public school districts in the United States, we find that school districts in locations with stronger teachers’ unions are less likely to reopen in person even after we control … for differences in local demographic characteristics.”
But health concerns weren’t the reason for closures. They were a pretext.
As the study cited above noted, closures “provide additional benefits to union members by reducing childcare responsibilities, hours of direct instruction, and commute times. Furthermore, because teachers’ unions with more power are in better positions to influence school districts, we expect that school districts in locations with stronger teachers’ unions will be less likely to reopen with in-person instruction.”
In short, teachers unions are using COVID-19 to extort more benefits and more money from the education system for their members. They don’t care about the kids.
For his part, if he gains office, Biden will be more interested in keeping his solid union support happy than in sending kids back to school.
Polls show parents want their kids back in school. The only people who don’t want the schools to reopen appear to be leftist politicians and their union supporters. For the record, since 1990, the the NEA and AFT, the two largest teachers unions, have given Democrats at least 94% of their political contributions.
There’s a solution for this dilemma. De-unionize the nation’s public schools. Unions have damaged American education, dumbing down curricula, filling kids’ heads with anti-American socialist dogma, and presiding over decades of rising costs and declining or stagnant test scores. It’s time to restore local control by parents over education. A system that works.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board