by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Parents and community groups in big, Democrat-run cities from New York to Chicago to San Francisco would very much like to reopen the public schools. But parents and community groups in big, Democrat-run cities from New York to Chicago to San Francisco are only incidental inconveniences to the teachers’ unions, who proceed from the assumption — which is far from obviously wrong — that the public schools are run for their benefit.
In Chicago, the teachers’ union voted to reject the city’s reopening schedule, demanding that its members continue to work remotely until all of the city’s educators have been vaccinated, which might well mean that students would still be out of the classroom until the spring semester of 2022 or later. District leaders have described the union’s position of militant noncompliance as an “illegal strike,” which is what it amounts to and how it should be treated.
The story is playing out much the same way in other cities: San Francisco had planned to begin reopening schools on Monday, but the teachers’ union blocked the effort. New York has been in a state of educational chaos with the back-and-forth between its incompetent mayor and its intransigent union bosses. The union rejected a reopening plan in Baltimore, but Baltimore plans to proceed without the union’s blessing, citing the dire academic performance of its students in remote learning, with more than half of students failing a class during the disruption.
Three out of four urban school districts are at this moment offering no in-person instruction.
The best evidence we have suggests that schools are not particularly dangerous environments when it comes to COVID-19 — no more and no less dangerous than any other environment. People can and do work, with the proper precautions, in businesses ranging from banks to grocery stores to warehouses.