Union Dons ‘Content’ With Shuttered Schools

Monopoly-Bargaining Laws Empower Them to Block School Re-Openings

It’s been almost a year now since politicians across America “temporarily” shut down K-12 schools in their jurisdictions as part of an extraordinary effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Last summer, as more and more became known about COVID-19, there emerged a strong, worldwide consensus among public health specialists that schoolchildren face less risk from COVID-19 than they do from the flu and that schools are not important vectors of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, many if not most K-12 public schoolchildren are still not attending school in-person this winter.  

And the principal reason why is the inordinate power wielded by teacher union bosses over school operations in the vast majority of the 50 states.

‘Schools Are Not Hot Spots For Coronavirus Infections’

“It would be reasonable for teacher union bosses to oppose schools being open if COVID-19 posed a major risk to schoolchildren or to educators themselves,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King.

Union boss Becky Pringle apparently favors keeping teachers away from the classroom for as long as possible. (Credit: Andrew Harnik, AP)

“But the fact is that the risk to kids is very low. Children aged 5-17 are far less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than they are for the seasonal flu, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. Children are also far less likely to die from COVID-19 than they are from the flu.

“It’s also true, as an article published in the scientific journal Nature last October noted, that young children infected with COVID-19 are far less likely to transmit it than adults are, and adolescents are no more likely to transmit this disease than adults are.

“The data show ‘schools are not hot spots for coronavirus infections.’ 

“Teachers who offer instruction to children in-person are for that reason almost certainly no more likely to be infected with COVID-19 on the job than people who work somewhere other than at a school.” 

Union Boss:  Teachers Shouldn’t Be ‘Bullied’ Into Returning to Classroom

Ms. King went on to point out that, while there is minimal if any health benefit from keeping schools shuttered, the educational costs are high:

“In school districts where classes continue to be on-line only, there is ample evidence the quality of instruction is inferior to what it was before. Students are failing more classes. And more kids are dropping out of school altogether.”

As the evidence mounts that their kids are being denied the benefits of in-person instruction for no good reason, parents in many school districts are demanding that schools reopen, and this winter more and more city and state elected officials finally seem to be heeding them.

That infuriates union bosses like Becky Pringle, who assumed the presidency of the mammoth National Education Association (NEA) union last year.

According to Ms. Pringle, school officials, mayors and governors who fight to keep schools open, or reopen them, while making good-faith efforts to ensure they operate safely, are “bullying” teachers “into returning . . . to classrooms”!

Even as Ms. Pringle and other powerful teacher union bosses insist that their members be fast-tracked for COVID-19 vaccinations, they also insist that their members should not be expected to return to the classroom after they have been vaccinated.

Expressing sentiments undoubtedly shared by many parents of school-aged children around the country, National Review correspondent Jim Geraghty has noted that Ms. Pringle’s bullying crack epitomizes how “teachers’ unions are quite content” with the status quo “of students attempting to learn from home.”

This attitude, said Mr. Geraghty, is “worthy of scorn.”

Ms. King commented:

“As infuriating as the hostility of Big Labor bosses to school reopenings is, it wouldn’t matter much if politicians in more than 30 states hadn’t passed laws granting union bosses monopoly-bargaining power over how teachers in public schools are compensated and managed.

“These special-interest statutes have turned the NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) unions into political juggernauts across the U.S., even in states like North Carolina and Texas that have sensibly refused to adopt government-sector monopoly bargaining.

“And, as the late Al Shanker, a longtime national AFT boss, bluntly acknowledged, there is no ‘voice for students’ in the monopoly-bargaining ‘process.’  Students’ interests, Mr. Shanker added, are ‘basically . . . left out.’”