By Michael O’Neill
Millions of American families want desperately to get their children back to school. At hearings throughout the nation, parents are expressing their frustrations with the fact that schools continue to be closed. The CDC says it’s safe. Teachers are ready to get back to work. So why are so many children stuck at home and falling further behind? The answer is bare-knuckled union politics.
Just a few weeks ago, the CDC concluded that risk of transmission of coronavirus from in-person schooling is low. Reasonable precautions we have implemented as normal such as mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing can be enforced in schools to reduce risk. These measures work in our day-to-day lives and they work in schools. Private schools, for example have been open for months with few reported problems. Yet, in the last two weeks, those same officials have walked back their position. What changed?
The National Education Association (NEA) decided early last year that the coronavirus presented a chance to force school systems to adopt their radical agenda. NEA sees opportunity in the pandemic. While millions of our children forced to attend virtual schools fall further and further behind, teachers and politicians erect roadblock after roadblock to in-school learning. NEA is using the virus to advocate for its version of social and racial justice. Put simply, they have put their agenda ahead of the needs of students.
And who suffers the most when kids are out of the classroom? Students from low-income households where parents lack the resources to supervise on-line learning. Students with learning disabilities who must navigate the online learning system with no support. Kids in rural America and the inner cities who rely on schools to provide meals and structure. How does keeping kids home advance social justice?
Teacher unions like the NEA aren’t suffering. They continue to collect millions of dollars in dues from hardworking teachers and continue to pay their employees six-figure salaries. Wealthy liberal elites aren’t suffering. They send their kids to private schools or work from home to ensure their kids don’t fall behind.
Children need to be in school ASAP. Despite recent retractions from the CDC director, the science supports returning to in-person learning. Rather than being on the side of students, teacher unions have used the Coronavirus as an excuse to hold school systems hostage until their demands are met. They exercise their considerable power to ensure politicians stay on message and keep the schools closed.
Old habits die hard. It looks like the political power of the NEA is on the rise. The NEA and other teacher unions appear to be behind recent decisions on the part of the Biden Administration to walk back its commitment to getting students back into schools.
We’re all familiar with the unreported political expenditures by the NEA. Hidden from its members and nonmember teachers forced to pay fees to the union, the NEA functioned as a massive political organization using teacher’s general treasury dues to fund political activities. The nation’s largest teacher’s union spent tens of millions of dollars annually to fund political campaigns on behalf of endorsed candidates. Teachers unions had morphed into political arms of the Democrat Party.
Local school boards and county officials need to hear the voices of desperate parents who are rightly concerned about the fact their children are suffering – emotionally and academically. Unless parents speak up, the only voices these politicians hear are the ones arguing for closed schools. Finally, when kids do return to school, those who disregarded science and commonsense need to be held accountable.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.