Is your child's school open now?
Probably not — because teachers unions say that reopening would "put their health and safety at risk."
They keep schools closed by lobbying and protesting. "If I die from catching COVID-19 from being forced back into Pinellas County Schools, you can drop my dead body right here!" shouts one demonstrator here.
But schools rarely spread COVID-19. Studies on tens of thousands of people found "no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus."
Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, encouraged schools to reopen, saying "close the bars and keep the schools open."
Heritage Foundation education researcher Lindsey Burke points out that studies in 191 countries find "no consistent link between reopening schools and increased rates of COVID transmission."
She says schools aren't COVID-19 hotspots.
"But it's logical that they would be," I push back. "Kids are bunched together."
"Positivity rates in schools are generally below those in the broader community," she says.
Closed schools hurt low-income students most because they have fewer learning alternatives. The privileged get around union restrictions.
Almost all of California's government-run schools are closed, but California Governor Gavin Newsom's sends his kids to a private school that stayed open.
"Choice for me, but not for thee!" quips Burke.
Kids blocked from attending school suffer more than academic losses, she adds. "Kids are social animals. A lack of their ability to interact in person, see their friends, see their teachers, is really having an impact."
That's not a good enough reason to open schools, say the unions. In my video, one San Antonio teacher argues: "We understand that in-person learning is more effective than online teaching, but that's not the question. The question is what is safest."
"But that's really not at the heart of why unions are trying to keep schools closed," says Burke. "It's really a question of politics."
Definitely. Union demands include all sorts of things unrelated to teacher safety. The Los Angeles union demands: defunding the police, a moratorium on charter schools, higher taxes on the wealthy and "Medicare for All."
"The Oregon Education Association ... said they wanted the state to halt any transfers to virtual charter schools," says Burke. "There's clearly no health issue in a virtual setting."
It's revealing that government-run schools fight to stay closed, while most businesses — private schools, restaurants, hair salons, gyms, etc., fight to be allowed to open.
Why is that? Burke points out that government schools "receive funding regardless of whether or not they reopen."
So, union workers get paid even when they don't work. Not working seems to be a big union goal.
At one point, LA teachers even secured a contract saying that they only are "required to provide instruction ... four hours per day" and they will "not be required to teach classes using live video conferencing."
Nice non-work if you can get it.
Yet, the teachers unions keep winning. They will win more now that Democrats control the federal government. Congress' last stimulus package forbids any funds to be used to expand school choice: no "vouchers, tuition tax credit programs, education savings accounts, scholarship programs, or tuition assistance programs."
So, students lose. Parents lose. Taxpayers lose. America loses.
We asked 21 teachers unions to respond to the criticisms in this column. Not one would.
Their behavior reveals their true interest: power and money. Students come third.