Millions of California students – and parents – at home this fall: This week, the Los Angeles Unified School District acceded to teachers union demands and canceled in-person classes when the school year begins. The San Diego Unified School District made the same decision. These two biggest districts in the state educate more than 720,000 students. Each of these students becomes part of a lost year of learning and social development, with a disproportionate impact on minority students and working-class families.
Gov. Newsom’s take: Gov. Newsom praised the LAUSD/SDUSD decision, saying, “Two things are non-negotiable: our children’s health and the absolutely essential importance of educating our children. To me it’s an 'and,' not an 'or.'” Contrary to the governor’s implication, it’s also an “and” for supporters of in-person school reopening. And given the disaster of the virtual education experiment, this side has a stronger case.
Other places across the state follow suit: Following LA’s precedent, other major districts in the state also announced this week that they would not reopen physical classrooms when the school year begins. Sacramento County, which educates more than 250,000 students, said its schools will remain closed. The Fresno Teachers Association demanded classes in the state’s third-largest district remain entirely online. Long Beach Unified, the state’s fourth-largest district, and San Francisco Unified, the state’s sixth-largest, announced they will remain remote when the school year begins.
The Californian redoubt of Orange County: The Orange County Board of Education, hewing to scientific and empirical evidence showing that children face far less risk from Covid than the flu and don’t seem to transmit the virus, voted to open schools as normal.
Teachers unions’ ransom note: In the latest episode of National Review’s Radio Free California, David and Will discuss the LA teachers union’s ransom note to the public demanding higher taxes, the termination of school police, universal healthcare, and more money in return for reopening schools.
Teachers unions use kids as pawns in their charter chess match: As I told The Center Square, “The LA teachers union is shamelessly exploiting COVID-19 and holding children's education hostage to achieve its ultimate goal of banning school choice. Rather than looking at the widespread evidence and expert opinion, including the American Association of Pediatrics, that schools can reopen safely, unions are using kids as pawns for their own benefit.” (The National Academy of Science has since come out in support of school reopening as well.)
One rhetorical question destroys the teachers union position: The LA teachers union, unsurprisingly, frames its broad demands as a way to help poor kids. But as CPC contributor Edward Ring points out in his latest contribution, “The problem with this [teachers union] litany is it predates COVID-19 and ignores a crucial question: Are disadvantaged communities going to be better off or worse off if schools don’t reopen?"
Biden’s “teachers’ unions first” agenda: CPC contributor Larry Sand discusses how Joe Biden promises to put teachers unions before students. “In fact, Biden said in May that if he is elected, “Charter schools are gone.” Every parent of the 600,000 California students in charter schools should hear Joe’s threat.
Teachers unions’ sweet deal. Susan Shelley reminds us in her OC Registercolumn this week that teachers unions face no potential consequences for holding kids’ education hostage:
California teachers’ unions won a victory when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a budget trailer bill that bases school funding levels for the new school year on the attendance in the previous school year. This cheats growing charter schools, often non-union, of the revenue to educate newly enrolled students. The new law also prohibits layoffs of teachers or other school employees through June of 2021.
So even if the schools are closed, everybody gets paid. That’s a very sweet deal courtesy of taxpayers, many of whom are currently on hold with the Employment Development Department, trying to get their unemployment benefits.
O say can you… lean on me? The LA Times ran a 3,000-word op-ed this week arguing that the national anthem should be canceled. Apparently, it’s racist. “Its lyrics are ornate and Anglophile, with syntax that frustrates the efforts of normal human Americans to follow along — to deduce who or what, exactly, is gleaming and streaming. As for the music: It’s as British as beef Wellington.” (Some cultural stereotypes are apparently still OK.)
The clickbait headline -- “It’s time to cancel ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Here’s what should replace it” -- doesn’t try to hide its cancel culture motivations. The proposed replacement? “Lean on me” by Bill Withers. It’s a classic song, no doubt. But one of its lines -- “You just call on me brother, when you need a hand” – is surely a little too “problematic” for today’s zeitgeist.
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