Schools Reopening And The Callous Adults

Schools Reopening And The Callous Adults

Schools Reopening And The Callous Adults

There has been so much ink – real and virtual – spilled on this subject. A majority of schools across this country remain shuttered, in the tight grip of the teachers’ unions.

In Chicago, which I think is ground zero for the battle between school districts and teachers’ unions, Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave the negotiations a “48 hour cooling off period” on Tuesday. Now, she says her final offer to the union is on the table.

In a statement Friday morning, Lightfoot and CPS Chief Executive Officer said the union provided them with their latest proposal for a deal to end the impasse about in-person schooling and the strike threat, “and responded with our last, best, and final offer. We expect a response from CTU leadership today.”

However, it appeared unlikely the district’s final offer would not be enough to reach an immediate settlement, as the CTU said the mayor and CPS “have walked away from the bargaining table again.”

“This is a pandemic, and that means our schools have to get every single mitigation protection right if we’re serious about keeping children and adults safe,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement Friday afternoon. “We’re deeply disappointed that the mayor has chosen to stop negotiating and instead move to lock out educators and shut down schools rather than work out our differences.”

Will Mayor Lightfoot have the guts to play hardball with the union? Will she continue to kick the can down the road while still trying to sound tough? Or will she simply cave and blame the union? The clock is ticking.

Meanwhile, parents across the country are in limbo. The teachers’ unions are paralyzed by the fear that they have assiduously sowed. The villian was the virus, but it was also the Bad Orange Man. With President Trump no longer in office, elected Democrats across the country are now paying lip serviceand more – to reopening schools. However, the monster that the Democrats have fed all these years has risen up to devour them. The teachers’ unions have bought and paid for most of the Democrats in this country, and they will be damned if they don’t get some kind of payoff now. While red states and red areas are working on opening up, the blue states and blue areas are locked in a titanic struggle between elected Democrats – who are hearing from sad, desperate, and angry parents who vote – and the teachers’ unions. This leads to absolute callousness on the part of many of the adults who are supposed to be working on solutions, with parents and students trapped in the middle. Writer Ann Bauer tweeted about a Zoom meeting between a Minnesota state senator and parents begging for help. The despair in this thread is palpable, and understood by so many parents in this country right now.

Over and over, because these were nice people, they acknowledged how lucky they are. They said they have money for tutors and electronics and they’re worried about families that don’t. I believed them. They were measuring their situation against people with less. With nothing.”

Still. What surprised me is how money didn’t make this OK. These parents looked terrified. Two of the fathers cried; one turned off his video because he could not keep it together. Two of the mom had outbursts, and I couldn’t blame them. Everything they said was true.”

A teen who looked to be about 15 spoke. She was eloquent and dear and intensely respectful. She started sobbing halfway through and said she got to a place so dark she didn’t know if she’d get out. So the senator was in a tough spot. She was gracious. She thanked everyone.”

Then, oh my God, this is true. She talked about the tradeoffs and the fact that ‘other businesses’ also had to deal with shutdowns. Someone reminded her that school wasn’t supposed to be a business.”

At this point she pivoted and for reasons I will never understand started talking about how she herself had to go to the Capitol because she was a public servant and there were “certain partisan senators” refusing to wear masks! I screamed at this point. Luckily I was on mute.”

I want to be clear. She was in an unwinnable spot and probably has no control over teachers unions, but again and again the rhetoric was around safety and infection, variants, systems. There was never a moment when the veil slipped and reality got its due.”

The parents were remarkably controlled. They thanked her for her time and said they understood and promised to stay in touch. I left the meeting and sat there and I had to remind myself that I’m not suffering the way they are. For a minute, the horror was so great I forgot.”

I really feel, tonight, like there is no way to get the train of public education going again. Like we’re just deciding to throw away this generation of kids, like burned toast. There will be virtual committees and task forces assembled while they sit in their bedrooms alone.”

The kids have been feeling abandonded for a very long time by the teachers who used to claim that everything they did was “for the children.” Now, the children will be tossed aside, broken and uneducated, because the adults – who supposedly possess a lifetime of experience and sense – can no longer make individual judgments about risk assessment.

Mary Katharine Ham, who knows something about loss and risk and deciding to live after enormous tragedy, tweeted this out.

But the teachers’ unions, aided by the fecklessness of the Biden administration, is clinging to a binary paradigm. If the schools open, everyone dies. If the schools stay closed, everyone lives. This is no longer “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” This is now the paranoia of the powerful that is condemning a generation to destruction. This is about the so-called “party of science” deciding that science no longer fits their political ambitions, so out the window it goes.

Parents, if you are angry, it’s time to rise up. It is time to stop caring about what people think about your opinions online. Everyone must do what works best for their own student. If that means homeschooling or private schooling, then Godspeed to you. For those of us who cannot (and this is not the forum to get into the myriads of reasons that my children are not good candidates for either option, but let’s just say that I have bent the system to my will for two of my children for now), then it’s time to fight for what you know is best for your own children, and for the kids who are being left behind by both teachers and parents. Eventually – and I put no timeline on that word because it could take years if the unions get their way – schools will open back up. What kind of power they possess at that point will be up to YOU.

Featured image via Pixabay, cropped, Pixabay license

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1 Comment
  • Hate_me says:

    Eh. It’s not like public school was doing a good job to begin with.

    The biggest casualty is the socialization that is lost with these schools being closed – but that was already a losing battle.

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