It’s galling enough that people who don’t have children in public education have to pay for people who do. What’s downright infuriating is when everyone pays for education while schools remain on lockdown due to teachers’ unions’ intransigence. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:
In many school districts across the nation, public school teachers still don’t want to go back to work. Private sector workers have long been hard at work in kitchens, at construction sites, and in hardware and grocery stores. Meanwhile, from Seattle, to Los Angeles, and to Berkeley, California, Teachers’ Union representatives insist they simply can’t be expected to perform the on-site work in the expensive facilities that the taxpayers have long been paying for.
This week, for example, some schoolteachers in Colorado’s Jefferson County turned out to protest the district’s plan to return to limited in-person learning later this month. These protestors still insist it’s unsafe, even though the very institutions these people have long parroted in favor of endless lockdowns—the CDC and the World Health Organization, for instance—say reopening schools should be a “top priority.” Moreover, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine have concluded “The lower risk of transmission of the virus by younger children and reported milder or moderate illness in this age group suggest the appropriateness of in-person instruction for primary and elementary grades.”
But that’s not good enough for public school teachers. So, in many cases, parents who actually want or need to send their students to an in-person school must go to the private sector instead. The government schools in these places can’t be bothered, but the private schools are racing to serve the public.
The most absurd aspect of all this is that even when public schools effectively tell parents and students to “get lost,” taxpayers still have to pony up the cash to pay for the public schools. If any private sector industry tried to function this way, it would be denounced in no uncertain terms. But it doesn’t happen this way because in the private sector—unlike the public schools—business owners and employees don’t get paid if they refuse to work. In other words, the customers can take their money and leave.
One thing is certain about the coronavirus response: it’s left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths about public education, its bureaucracy, its teachers, and their unions. From Jonathan Turley at jonathanturley.org:
As teacher unions fight to keep schools closed, the true cost is being felt by students who are racking up failing grades, dropping out of virtual classes, increasing drug use, and, in rising numbers, committing suicide. In response, some union officials like the President of the Los Angeles Teacher’s Union has labelled calls to return to class examples of white privilege despite overwhelming science supporting resumption of classes. However, for minority students, this shutdown has taken a dire situation and turned into a freefall disaster. The pandemic led to the closure of an already failing public school system, as evident in a shocking story out of Baltimore. As recently reported, a high school student almost graduated near the top half of his class after failing every class but three in four years. He has a 0.13 GPA. His mother finally went public in exasperation with the failures in the public schools.
Tiffany France is understandably upset. She is a mother of three who works three jobs to support her family. She was never told that her son failed 22 classes and was late or absent 272 days over his first three years of high school. She was called for only one teacher-student meeting and that meeting never occurred at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts.
France ultimately had to pull her son out of the school and enrolled him in an accelerated program to allow him to graduate in 2023.
For decades, we have spent huge amounts of money in school districts like Washington, D.C. and Baltimore as these cities and their leaders have failed to address these failures. We have had a lost generation of kids who have neither the education nor the trained skills to succeed in society. Yet, there is no accountability for the political and educational leaders in these cities.
Public school wasn’t much before the pandemic, and they’re even worse now. Many parents will pursue alternatives after they reopen, if the teachers’ unions ever let them reopen. From Will Flanders and Cori Peterson and realcleareducation.com:
“She’s a happy kid, a good student, and the virtual learning was a disaster for us,” said Erin Haroldson of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, whose eight-year-old daughter was receiving virtual education from her local public school last spring. When it looked like schools would go virtual again this fall, Haroldson asked her daughter if she would rather continue at Mount Horeb or start in person at a new school, where she would need to make new friends. When her daughter responded “Mom, I want to go to a new school,” the Haroldsons enrolled her in High Point Christian School in Madison.
The Haroldsons are not alone. According to a new Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) study, the state’s public schools saw an unprecedented enrollment decline this fall, and the school districts that started virtual learning at the outset of the school year lost the most students. Across the Badger State, the average district saw an enrollment decline of 2.67%. Districts that went fully virtual drove this decline, seeing an average 3% decline in enrollment.
These numbers may seem small, but they represent a meaningful number of kids. In Madison, enrollment declined by 995 students; in Milwaukee, by 2,335 students. These drop-offs were driven in part by smaller pre-kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment.
A lot of cynics think that coronavirus pretty much goes away on November 4, especially if Biden wins the election. We’re probably right. From John Tamny at realclearpolitics.com:
We don’t realistically anticipate that we would be moving to either tier 2 or reopening K-12 schools at least until after the election, in early November.” Those are the words of a west coast health director. No in-person schooling until after the election? Hmmm.
Please think about what was said. It reads as kind of a ransom note. Vote for science-reverent candidate Joe Biden, or else….
Really, what else could the utterance mean? What does November 3rd have to do with re-opening schools? Why would it be safer to open on the 4th of November versus the present?
Unless the implicit point is that corona-reverence is far more political than the believers have previously felt comfortable admitting. If so, what’s happening borders on child abuse. Kids will be held hostage by an election?
Think about what this means. For one, not every parent can afford a babysitter. More than some want to acknowledge, there’s a “day care” quality to schooling. And when school isn’t in person, parents without the means to hire babysitters either must reduce work hours, leave their kids without supervision, or quit work altogether.
Day care aside, what about the kids? While there’s an argument that the learning aspect of education is a tad overstated, does anyone think virtual learning will be very effective? With kids? For the adult readers done with school, think back to how attentive you were on substitute teacher days. Does anyone think a lot of learning is happening remotely?