In several parts of the country, public school teachers are all but refusing to work.
Members of the Chicago Teachers Union voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to stay home and continue to teach remotely even though district officials are trying to reopen schools for in-person learning. Fairfax’s union is threatening to do the same thing if administrators ask teachers to return to the classroom next fall — regardless of the fact that teachers will have been vaccinated by then. And in Los Angeles, public school teachers are saying they won’t go back until every single student is vaccinated as well, even though children under the age of 16 are not even medically permitted to receive the vaccine right now.
They ought to be fired — every single one of them. But because of legal statutes protecting public sector unions and the logistics of firing hundreds of teachers en masse, city officials’ hands are tied. However, parents can take action to hold these teachers accountable — and they must if their students are to have any hope for a normal academic future.
It’s time for parents to pull their children out of the public school system if they can afford to do so. These teachers are not just sacrificing the academic and social well-being of their students anymore; they are literally endangering their lives. This is not an exaggeration: Young students are facing a suicide epidemic thanks to prolonged isolation. In fact, Las Vegas officials recently made the decision to reopen the county’s schools because so many students in the area were taking their own lives.
Leaving public schools may not be an option for every family. Many still rely on the public school system because of its accessibility and affordability. But those who can should at least consider enrolling their students in a nearby charter school or homeschooling pod if they are able — many of which are free.
In the meantime, city officials need to find some courage and put these unions in their place. There is no excuse whatsoever for the continued delay tactics. Teachers in most parts of the country are at the front of the line for the vaccine, and several studies prove that schools can reopen safely without significant COVID-19 spread.
But many cities continue to allow teachers unions to bully them into submission anyway. In Chicago, for example, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Janice Jackson agreed to push the city’s return to in-person learning from Monday to Wednesday, saying that, “Additional time is needed to reach a resolution.” The Chicago Teachers Union took this concession and ran with it, arguing that it does not agree with the district on any terms and that it will not allow its teachers to return any time soon.
Enough is enough. The city needs to file a complaint with the state’s labor board immediately, and the board should then declare this an illegal strike, fine the teachers union, and allow schools to punish the teachers responsible for this negligence. There must be consequences, and they must be severe.
However, the only permanent solution is a mass exodus, which is well-deserved. The public school system is just as responsible for students’ decline as are the teachers unions because it is the public school system and the officials who run it that enabled poor union behavior. Instead of reopening the minute it became clear schools weren’t the coronavirus superspreader sites the unions made them out to be, the city officials in charge entertained the unions’ political demands for months. The only reason they’re acting now is because the pressure from parents and other critics has become too great.
Parents, your students deserve better. They deserve teachers who will put the educational needs of their students ahead of their own. They deserve a school that will defend their right to an education and work to make sure every student has the chance at academic success. They deserve an advocate that will not bow to the political demands of wannabe tyrants. Unfortunately, the public school system has proven over the past year that it can’t even stand up for itself.