- The Washington Times
Thursday, July 30, 2020


Public schools in the District of Columbia just announced that all students will be doing the stay-at-home virtual study thing when the new year begins.

D.C. is not alone in this. D.C. is just the latest.

And make no mistake about it — these virtual classes have virtually nothing to do with protecting staff and students from the coronavirus and actually everything to do with scoring wins for the teachers’ unions.

There’s nothing the socialist-driven top tiers at the teachers’ unions would like more than no work, all pay. A close second — and this is virtual learning, at its root — is easy work for same pay. A real jammies and slippers work environment is simply icing on that cake.

“Teachers are wary of returning to class … as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage,” The New York Times reported.

But that wariness is hardly based on science and fact.

The coronavirus is deadly to the elderly; the vast majority who are infected either recover with nary an issue, or don’t even show symptoms of infection — meaning, they’re barely impaired. Teachers who are too afraid to teach can surely safeguard themselves by staging some see-through plastic shields around their desks, by wearing face masks and goggles and eye shields, by social distancing 6 feet and beyond — or whatever, right?

Apparently, not.

“Teachers Union Considers Strikes Over School Re-openings,” US News reported.

Whah. Teachers are always whining about something. If it’s not more pay, it’s more days off. If it’s not more days off, it’s more tax-paid benefits — and more pay. If it’s not more days off, it’s — hmm, once again, more pay.

Those days of kids coming first in public school teachers’ minds are long gone. The unions have made sure of that.

Los Angeles school districts are going virtual this fall. So, too, San Diego. And New York City, somewhat. And Atlanta — all virtual. And San Francisco. And more will come.

“St. Louis teachers union recommends online learning,” KMOV reported.

“Maryland teachers unions, PTA call for virtual-only start to school,” the Baltimore Sun reported.

“Wisconsin’s largest teachers unions call for online school,” WISN reported.

But all that counters best-practice medical advice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children get back to school and offers ways those with COVID-19 concerns can protect themselves. Federal health experts agree.

“The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote. “Death rates among school-age children are much lower than among adults. At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional and behavioral health, economic well-being and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.”

Right. Quite right.

And then there’s this: What about the poor children in minority neighborhoods — you know, the ones the leftists like to pretend they oh-so care about and protect?

As CDC noted: “[T]he lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities. These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources, like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs.”

And never mind the physically and sexually abused children, the ones who escaped their torture for a few hours each day by attending school — the ones who could be identified by trained staffers in schools as possibly, potentially at-risk at home, leading to saving interventions. What about them?

Casualties of unions.

Casualties of crybaby bureaucrats who masquerade as loving, child-centered teachers.

It’s all about the money.

Unions want to use the coronavirus to win big policy concessions that will solidify the power of the public school for decades to come — specifically, they’re using COVID-19 to demand wealth taxes and government bailouts to meet rising pension obligations, bans on charter schools. And of course: More money. More federal spending on schools. More state tax dollars on schools.

And by schools, it’s meant, union and pet teachers’ pockets.

Locals should have the say over the direction of public schools. Not feds, not unions. Locals. That keeps the teachers accountable and ensures students and staffers are being adequately and fairly provided for — with the emphasis on students.

That constitutional ship has sailed long ago. Today’s public education decisions are driven by the whips of the power-hungry bureaucrats in socialist-minded teachers’ unions.

And that’s the way it’s been for decades.

But using COVID-19 as justification to kill an emerging generation’s chances for proper education — that’s a new low for the teachers’ unions. That’s a new, shameful low for America’s public schools.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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