Written with contribution from Sheriff David Clarke
Sometimes you just have to stop and stare.
The powerful union United Teachers of Los Angeles have voted “overwhelmingly” not to return to in-person learning as part of a re-opening plan that they also declared was “a recipe for propagating structural racism.”
Did you hear that?
Supporters of school choice have been told for years that charter schools, voucher programs, and other state-sponsored options to help kids get out of failing public schools are racist.
Now, getting kids back to the failing public schools is even racist.
This would be funny if it weren’t so disgusting, considering how many children of color are being deprived of education in the most formative years of their life and being used as pawns by greedy teachers unions who can’t even hide the fact that they couldn’t care less about structural racism.
On Friday, the UTLA announced its “members have voted overwhelmingly to resist a premature and unsafe physical return to school sites.”
The Blaze notes this was a 91% vote not to return to classrooms until certain “safety criteria” were provided.
The teachers refuse to return to classroom learning until Los Angeles County is out of the purple tier. According to California’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” restrictions, purple tier regions are areas that have “widespread” COVID-19 infections. In order to get out of the purple tier, a county needs to have fewer than seven coronavirus cases per 100,000 and less than 8% of positive COVID-19 tests. Most of the state of California is in the purple tier, and has been for months.
The Los Angeles teachers union also states that they won’t reopen schools until “staff are either fully vaccinated or provided access to full vaccination.” California entered Phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccination effort this month, which allows coronavirus shots for individuals who are age 65 and older, those who work in agriculture, food, emergency services, childcare, and education.
Before they return to classrooms, the United Teachers of Los Angeles also demanded that “safety conditions are in place at our schools including PPE, physical distancing, improved ventilation, and daily cleaning.”
“This vote signals that in these most trying times, our members will not accept a rushed return that would endanger the safety of educators, students, and families,” said UTLA president Cecily Myart-Cruz said.
Last week, California’s state legislature voted near-unanimously in both chambers to pass a school re-opening bill which would simply withhold $2 billion in grant funding until districts open schools at least part-time for in-person learning by the end of this month.
For every day after April 1 that schools put off in-person learning, they will learn 1% of the grant money.
This is what has the UTLA slamming the plan as racist.
“If you condition funding on the reopening of schools, that money will only go to white and wealthier and healthier school communities that do not have the transmission rates that low-income black and brown communities do,” Myart-Cruz said. “This is a recipe for propagating structural racism and it is deeply unfair to the students we serve.”
“We are being unfairly targeted by people who are not experiencing this disease in the same ways as students and families are in our communities,” she continued. “If this was a rich person’s disease, we would’ve seen a very different response. We would not have the high rate of infections and deaths. Now educators are asked instead to sacrifice ourselves, the safety of our students, and the safety of our schools.”
Reality check: the longer you keep schools closed the wider the gap between impoverished or working-class students and their wealthier, white counterparts grows. Is there any wonder why the Los Angeles public schools are in the lower 50% of all California public schools in the area of test scores?
As Time Magazine noted last year, “41% of the highest-poverty districts are beginning the year with entirely remote learning, according to an analysis by the Center on Reinventing Public Education. That means many of the students who are most likely to need the academic, social and emotional support of in-person instruction won’t receive it.”
Their report also noted that Erica Turner, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who happens to studey racism and inequity in educational policy, is worried that continued school closures will, in fact, further systemic racism.
So which is it, progressives?
When families abandon public schools and turn to private options, Turner wrote, “they undermine the schools upon which less privileged families depend,” making it harder for other students, especially low-income children of color, to get good educations. The guide encourages parents to advocate for more school funding from Congress, demand the resources to make remote learning accessible for all students—including those who are homeless or have disabilities—and keep their own children enrolled in public schools.
Wait. Is Turner aware of the plethora of studies that determine that there is no correlation between school spending and academic performance and achievement?
The teachers’ unions have completely overplayed their hand this time around.