by Dr. Robert Luebke
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
The call to reopen public schools has been gaining volume of late. Parents and students are clamoring for school to open while others say schools still aren’t safe to open.
Were those the key factors in this discussion, schools would be open. Teacher unions have played a critical role in keeping the schools closed in North Carolina and nationally. If you doubt that read the recent Wall Street Journal editorial which pointed out how $130 billion still wasn’t enough for Joe Biden to get teacher unions back into the classroom. Likewise NCAE has long been against school reopening in North CArolina. NCAE went into high gear recently after Governor Cooper expressed his support for having local schools re-open. NCAE was able to get Cooper to not only contradict his own statements about teachers not needing to be vaccinated before schools reopened but also agree to get all educators vaccinated before retuning to the classroom — and before firefighters and other emergency personnel
Let’s face it. Teacher unions are calling the shots. And for many, while there is a the reality of a pandemic, it’s not all bad for teachers. In a recent column veteran K-12 education watcher Rick Hess, offers another perspective in a recent column on why most of the public schools are still closed. He states the schools will open up when the right incentives appear for teachers and staff. Hess writes:
….for many educators, returning to work is less appealing than the status quo. Right now, teachers working from home are earning the same salary and benefits as they would if schools were to reopen. Meanwhile, districts have shortened their workday, created asynchronous learning days that give teachers extra hours to plan and get things done, reduced formal supervision, eliminated commutes, and supplied technology, training, and troubleshooting to support teachers at home. Moreover, returning to in-person instruction may well entail teaching both students in the classroom and those viewing from home—a headache that no sane educator would relish. Practically speaking, from a teacher’s perspective, the status quo has a lot to recommend it, and gives teachers cause to support the unions even as they keep moving the goalposts for what constitutes a “safe” reopening.
Could it be some are getting comfortable with Covid? Parents who are fighting to get their kids back in school would do well to remember these realities and who’s keeping schools closed.
Its’ not about the science.