Americans have mixed feelings about opening schools this fall. Some — like the Trump administration’s Department of Education — want schools to reopen, withholding federal dollars from those that remain closed. However, the majority of Americans see opening schools as a health risk to their children.
After two-thirds of teachers opposed the reopening of schools, the Los Angeles School District will not be returning to in-person classes this fall. However, United Teachers Los Angeles, the main teachers’ union in the city, seemingly wants to suspend the return of quality instruction indefinitely.
UTLA — composed of 35,000 teachers — released a list of policy demands that must be met before schools reopen. They ask for face masks, contact tracing, and similar coronavirus-related precautions. These measures sound somewhat reasonable, but UTLA jumps the shark with the rest of their demands: Medicare for All, a wealth tax, a millionaire tax, defunding the police, a ‘moratorium’ on charter schools, and other far-left fever dream policies. The union admits elsewhere in the document that they are using the COVID crisis as an ‘opportunity’ to further its progressive politics.
The last paragraphs of the document likewise identify the reason that LA’s children cannot return to school in the fall: billionaires and politicians.
‘The United States leads the world in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths — and not coincidentally, also leads the world in number of billionaires, per-capita energy consumption, prisoners, school shootings, and medical bankruptcy’, reads the report. ‘When politicians exhort educators and other workers to “reignite the economy,” UTLA educators ask: who are you planning to use as kindling?’
According to the document, ‘The only people guaranteed to benefit from the premature physical reopening of schools amidst a rapidly accelerating pandemic are billionaires and the politicians they’ve purchased.’ The report’s authors must have been picturing Betsy DeVos wringing her hands and cackling maniacally as she watches case counts surge on Fox News from her Department of Education lair.
It is abundantly clear that online learning is not working for America’s students, especially those coming from low income backgrounds. Across the board, students would prefer physical instruction. An Axios poll found that 90 percent of American college students do not like online classes, and more than three in four see distance learning as ‘worse or much worse’ than in-person learning.Students will continue to suffer unless there is a return to in-person instruction. In Los Angeles during the first weeks of lockdown, roughly one-third of high schoolers — 40,000 students — were failing to stay in daily contact with their teachers. Another 15,000 students had not logged into class or completed any work at all.
The conclusion of UTLA report bears the title ‘Normal Wasn’t Working For Us Before. We Can’t Go Back’. This is a fitting name, although not for the reasons UTLA may think. Even before schools closed due to the pandemic, LA’s public schools had an average math proficiency of 28 percent and an average reading proficiency of 38 percent. Doubtlessly, these rates will drop even further in 2020.
Denmark and Finland were able to reopen their schools without furthering the spread of the virus, suggesting fears about public health are overblown. It seems that the ensuing crisis in public schools is not coronavirus, but plummeting graduation rates, rising crime and gang membership, and other calamities that will come downstream of increasingly abysmal educational achievement.