In a growing number of school systems, school officials, prodded by lazy teachers unions, are closing schools on Fridays. And as John Sexton points out, they are dropping any pretense that it has anything to do with COVID. Now, it’s a pure power play:
Remember when teachers unions around the country insisted they were eager to reopen schools but only once it could be done safely? Unions gave all sorts of excuses. First it was that not all teachers had been vaccinated. Then it was that schools lacked sufficient ventilation. Then it was that not all students had been vaccinated. The shifting list of demands had only one clear goal: Keep teachers (and students) out of classrooms for as long as possible. Even when local authorities tried to twist their arms, they refused to return.
And as the evidence piled up that remote learning wasn’t working for a large number of students, unions simply ignored or denied it. Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the LA Teacher’s Union, claimed no learning loss had taken place during the 18 months LA schools were closed. “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables…They know the difference between a riot and a protest,” she said. Some unions claimed the push to get teachers back to classrooms was racist.
Now, some school systems are closing again, one day a week. But this time, the teachers’ unions aren’t even pretending school closings are needed for students’ health.(When schools closed, student obesity rates spiked, and students’ health suffered. Shutting schools actually increases COVID-19 deaths, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh.)
The New York Times reports that schools are extending time off and resorting to one day a week (or a month) as remote learning only:
Caitlin Reynolds, a single mother, was happy that her son, L.J., was finally settled into fourth grade after a rocky experience last year with remote learning.
Then, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, an announcement: Detroit public schools would close their classrooms every Friday in December. There would be virtual school only.
On Friday, a follow-up announcement: School was also canceled starting that Monday, for the entire week of Thanksgiving…
At least six other school districts in Michigan extended Thanksgiving break, and three districts in Washington State, including Seattle Public Schools, unexpectedly closed on Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day.
“Why is this happening?,” asks Sexton. “unions have mostly given up on COVID related excuses. Instead, they are now blaming the same parents who were unhappy schools remained closed in the first place.” As the New York Times reports:
Battles in the classroom — from mask mandates to debates over critical race theory — have also taken a toll, said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-biggest teachers’ union.
“What you hear from teachers is that it’s been too much,” she said.
Sexton predicts that “this trend will spread. As word gets around that teachers are deciding to take a weekly break or additional days off, more teachers will decide that sounds good and do likewise. Is that good for students? Almost certainly not, but unions stopped worrying about that more than a year ago….Days stuck at home doing nothing are just … time for parents to step up,” according to a veteran teacher quoted by Sexton.
This teacher and many others, think that “teachers, who already have 8 weeks off every year, are … overworked and parents need to just stop complaining,” notes Sexton. “Parents are free to get credentialed and apply for jobs as teachers themselves, to fill some of the shortages. Otherwise, they should probably stop complaining,” the teacher said.
How this plays with parents remains to be seen. Even some Democratic parents may be getting fed up with Democratic school closings. As one commenter puts it:
I’m a lifelong liberal Democrat. I live in a big blue city in a blue state. I’m also a father of young twin sons who has seen up close how teachers unions and DOEs in blue states have behaved during the pandemic. This no-school Friday is merely the latest example of self-serving decisions. They have done zero risk balancing, have acted in the interests of their most extreme members, and accused parents who want their kids in school of being white supremacists who just want free childcare. The result has been learning and social-emotional loss that has hit poor students harder than anyone. I cannot think of any other industry where you just get to decide not to work a certain number of days, but still get paid. Most people don’t have school-age children so they don’t understand the tremendous welling of parental anger about their childrens’ needs being ignored. I was not surprised by the election in Virginia and I won’t be at all surprised when the country swings right in 2022 – at this point, Randi Weingarten and the UFT are the best friends of the Republican Party.