And believe me, many special interest groups watched school openings with a vested interest to sound hysterical alarms should outbreaks occur.
Large teachers unions, of course, made the loudest doomsday predictions. Yet liberal writer Jonathan Chait noted this week in New York Magazine, “Teachers unions have been an influential force against reopening schools even in cities and states where elected officials felt it could be done with reasonable safety.”
Anyone truly following the science in lieu of pursuing craven political power isn’t surprised that health experts found rates of COVID-19 infection at schools are far below what’s found in society.
Evidence straightforwardly suggests opening schools is not as risky as many, like the obstinate unions, proclaimed. Looking at confirmed cases, school rates were a paltry 0.078 percent for students and 0.15 percent for teachers.
Honest observers also knew the latest dereliction of duty was mainly about politics and money. Anti-science Democrats and intransigent unions didn’t mind hurting students and gaslighting well-meaning people if it increased their political power.
We see that here with Education Minnesota. Remember, places with stronger teachers unions are much less likely to offer full-time, in-person instruction. As of today, half of Minnesota’s 87 counties are moving backwards, to less in-person schooling!
The worst-run state in America also has among the worst schools; the strictest reopening rules; and of course, somehow, the highest paid teachers. Yet California students remain locked out until at least 2021.
I taught in the Golden State for five years. All my students received free lunches, and very few had two parents. California, where middle class people have fled for years, has the highest income inequality and poverty rate in America. Surveys showed more than half their parents lost a job due to the pandemic. Did teachers?
Closures like this crush families. They also exacerbate the achievement gap — along with the “homework gap” — as those with parents able to work remotely increase their advantage. That’s untenable.
A buddy in North Carolina runs a private school and was very concerned about the future of his industry three months ago.
Thankfully he reopened school under a clever “masks while moving” policy. Like most private businesses, they’ve been safe and successful.
“The idea is there are times when social distancing is impossible or impractical — hallways too narrow, a 15-student line requires 90 feet of hallway, etc,” he explained. “Once in the classroom and settled, students may remove masks. Teachers teach without a mask, conscious of distancing, unless working one-on-one with a student or a small group.”
Through eight weeks, no student, parent, faculty, staff, or other family members have tested positive for COVID.
“The success is a collective effort of all shareholders,” he boasted. “We want it to work, succeed and, at present, it’s doing both. More than 95% of our students are full-time, on-campus learners.”
We can never fully restart an economy that doesn’t first fully open all public schools. No more hybrid. No more circumlocution. Americans can only go back to work once all teachers finally rejoin society.
Sadly, our largest districts continue locking kids out. It’s a seven-months-and-counting defeat for taxpayers, working families, and the country, as equal opportunity is denied.
A friend in Indiana with three young children, also a former teacher, summarizes well: “School is so important. This virus is not killing kids. I would send my kids back even if I knew they would get it; that’s how important school is.”