Teachers unions care about power, not about children
Decades ago, teachers unions stopped focusing on traditional labor problems such as wages, benefits, and hours and instead became political entities pushing the Left’s agenda. Now they obsess over feeding our children the latest propaganda emerging from the radical schools of education. That means advanced math and sciences are out and critical race theory and radical gender theory are in. When the interests of the union conflict with the interests of children, the union prevails. Every time.
Just look at what’s happening in Chicago. The Chicago Teachers Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, staged a remote walkout to force the school system to return to remote learning. The union is also demanding the school district require negative tests from students and staff before returning to school. The union chose this action knowing full well the terrible effects closing schools has had. It does this knowing that the omicron variant amounts to little more than a cold for many people infected. Those who are vaccinated and boosted shouldn’t have to suffer the debilitating effects of virtual schooling.
Schools in cities such as Chicago are a lifeline to many students. They are a place of stability and safety where children are given healthy meals. Schools serve an integral part in helping students socialize. Beyond the obvious educational experience, schools are often the one place where children can go to find refuge in an otherwise chaotic world.
When schools are closed, all students suffer, but the most vulnerable are the ones really hurt. Children with learning disabilities cannot virtually access the curriculum in a way that is beneficial. These students need in-person learning. Can we really expect 13-year-olds with ADHD to get through seven hours a day of remote learning? It didn’t work last year, and we are just now seeing the terrible effects on a generation of students. By any metric, children are worse off after a year of virtual schooling. Depression, anxiety, and suicide among the young are at all-time highs, and what do teachers unions want? More of the same.
It’s no secret that teacher unions enjoy access to the president and wield incredible political power. They spend millions of dollars trying to get compliant politicians elected to office at all levels. Because of this, when they scream, they usually get their way. In fact, they are often the loudest (and only) voice in dictating terms before boards of education or getting a city mayor to comply with their demands.
Across the country, parents are stepping up. But there is much more work ahead. Every effort should be made to oppose the attempts unions are making to return to virtual school. Schools need to be kept open, and we need to remedy the damage done last year. When a union is the only voice, it will often get its way. When parents and community members rise and fight to keep schools open, elected officials will listen. Virtual school didn’t work for most students, and we shouldn’t let the fearmongering and power-hungry unions continue to lead us down a path of destruction. The health and well-being of our children is too high a sacrifice to appease the demands of the radical Left.
Michael O’Neill is the assistant general counsel at Landmark Legal Foundation.