What on earth does defunding the police have to do with whether returning to their classrooms sooner rather than later poses a health threat for teachers and kids?
However, as you may have read, the L. A. Teachers Union, which represents the second largest school district in the U.S., is calling for the police to be defunded before they can possibly set foot in their classrooms again.
The L.A. Teachers have other items on their ambitious agenda. Public charter schools must be shutdown and a state wealth tax and Medicare-for-All must be passed.
While you are scratching your head trying to figure out what a wealth tax has to do with safely re-opening public schools this fall, you might pause and notice that these demands echo the more left-leaning elements of Democratic Party.
Ten school districts in the U.S. have signed onto a set of opening requirements put forward by the Democratic Socialist of America. Under the rubric of safety, the Democratic Socialists also demand a charter school moratorium, voucher ban, end to standardized testing, and a national ban on evictions.
Meanwhile, Randi Weingarten, president of the National Federation of Teachers, said earlier this week that her umbrella organization will support local unionized teachers who go on strike.
Why not work instead to ensure that schools are safe and that teachers and students who have special risks are protected? Nobody but nobody wants to send kids and teachers into unsafe environments, and trying to portray those who want to get kids back to school as uncaring monsters is cynical.
The silver lining is that unions may be overplaying their hand, actually making the case for the public charter schools and voucher programs they so despise. In a terrific piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (“The Virus May Strike Teachers Unions”), David R. Henderson, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, seems to think that unions are shooting themselves in the foot.
Citing the nimbleness and responsiveness of alternative forms of education, including public charters, Henderson says that there are several reasons to be optimistic that union overreach will backfire:
Yet there are three reasons to be optimistic about the future of education. First, many parents will be more prepared to home-school their kids than they were in the spring. They or their hired teachers will do a better job of educating children, in many cases, than the public schools.
Second, once the pandemic ends, many parents, perhaps millions, will have a new appreciation of how mediocre a job the public schools were doing. They will continue home-schooling, switch to a private school, or push hard to end restrictions on the growth of charter schools.
Third, as schools sit empty and homebound teachers draw their regular salaries for less effective work, there will be more opposition to more funding for public schools, which, in turn, will make local school boards amenable to lower-cost options such as charter schools.
In short, as Reason’s Eric Boehm points out, striking school teachers may help the competition:
State and federal officials can help by expanding educational choice as rapidly as possible. If teachers unions are keeping public schools closed, parents should be provided with alternatives—or, as President Donald Trump has proposed, parents should get their school taxes refunded in full to use as they see fit.
‘If Walmart employees strike, you can take your money elsewhere,” says Corey DeAngelis, director of school choice for the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit which publishes this website. “If teachers strike, you should be able to take your child’s education dollars elsewhere.’
Hey, teach, maybe you should have thought of this?