The Bottom Line Chicago Teachers Are Teacher’s Pets

Parents and students can go it on their own with remote learning, they say — despite all the evidence. Originally published at The American Spectator

Tuesday, 73 percent of Chicago teachers voted to compel their school district to ditch classroom instruction in favor of remote learning because of COVID-19.

So, it’s official: Some urban public school districts are employment programs first and institutions of learning secondarily.

The union claimed to be promoting safety. But really, the union was leaning on the early myopic response officialdom adopted to prevent COVID-19 at all costs while ignoring the hazardous-to-health side effects of lockdowns.

The Chicago Teachers Union posted a 10-page paper on “safe and equitable conditions for reopening” Chicago public schools. The paper argued “institutional racism” is behind the higher incidence of COVID-19 among Black and Latino children — unperturbed by the damage remote learning poses for minority students.

McKinsey reported last month that students in majority-Black schools remain five months behind their historic levels, while students in majority white schools are two months behind — “widening pre-pandemic achievement gaps.”

Remote learning robbed students of the joy (and pain) of being kids around other kids, and it’s not healthy for child fitness.

An August paper published in JAMA reported that overweight and obesity for 5- to 11-year-olds increased from 36 percent to 45 percent during COVID-19 — overweight and obese children are at risk for contracting serious COVID-19.

The union 10-pager also suggested Chicago “defund the police” and shift $33 million from police to health care. The paper concluded, “Normal wasn’t working for us before. We can’t go back.”

Chicago parents, you’ve been warned.

Be it noted, more than 90 percent of Chicago teachers are vaccinated, which vastly reduces their risk of serious COVID-19. The district should work to accommodate the needs of the immunocompromised but otherwise treat staff like other essential workers. Like the people who work in grocery stores.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot took back the reins when she shut off access to Google Classroom remote programming in a bid to get teachers back in the schoolhouse. She also has threatened to withhold pay.

“Nobody signs up for being a home-schooler at the last minute,” the progressive mayor explained. “We can’t forget about how disruptive that remote process is to individual parents who have to work, who can’t afford the luxury of staying home.”

Again, the harm of the union’s vote falls disproportionately on those disadvantaged individuals the union claims to champion. (READ MORE: Teachers Unions’ Unreasonable, Unscientific COVID Response)

Schools never should have been shuttered after the 45 days to slow the spread in 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not recommend mass schoolroom shutdowns. CDC guidelines instead recommended closing schools for two to five days only where confirmed cases were discovered or in districts with high community transmission.

But once a handful of elected officials decided to ignore the CDC and ordered long-term shutdowns of schools, others succumbed like dominos to the magical thinking that staying home was the ultimate public virtue.

Chicago has been joined by Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Newark.

During Wednesday’s press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined an opportunity to challenge the Chicago union during Wednesday’s briefing. She only would say President Joe Biden “wants schools to be open.”

Apparently, if the radical teachers unions choose to deprive urban kids of classroom instruction, Biden doesn’t want to go all wild and crazy by criticizing them.

That leaves an opening for the Right.

Corey A. DeAngelis of School Choice Now responded that when Safeway workers go on strike, “families can take their money elsewhere. That bottom-up accountability provides pressure” on employers. “The only way out of this mess is by funding students directly and empowering families to access alternatives.”

That’s right. School vouchers. Brought to you by the Chicago Teachers Union.

Debra J. Saunders

Fellow, Chapman Center for Citizenship Leadership
A fellow with Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership, Debra J. Saunders worked for more than thirty years covering politics on the ground and in Washington, as well as American culture, the news media, the criminal justice system, and dubious trends in public schools and prestigious universities. Her column is nationally syndicated with Creators Syndicate.
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