“They are in violation of the law and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.” – President Ronald Reagan.

In 1981, thousands of air-traffic controllers went on strike after the federal government did not meet their demands for increased pay and a shorter workweek. President Ronald Reagan was not having it. He was furious about the illegal strike and threatened to fire those who did not return to work.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson could learn a lesson from Ronald Reagan and stop the nonsense that is playing out in Chicago public schools. Enough is enough.

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has long claimed that schools are unsafe and that teachers simply cannot be forced to return to work. Unfortunately for them, the science, as well as simple common sense, doesn’t support their alarmist claims.

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control states unequivocally that it is critical for schools to open as safely and as quickly as possible for in-person learning. Schools play an important role in children’s educational achievement, health, and wellbeing. The latest CDC data shows schools are not meaningfully contributing to increased community transmission.

When schools operate in accordance with the CDC guidelines, by using personal protective equipment, regularly cleaning and wiping down surfaces, enforcing mask rules, and requiring teachers to physically distance from students, in-person learning can take place successfully and safely.

If the Chicago Teachers Union doesn’t believe this, they can take a break from making interpretative dance videos and visit another Chicago school, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy, where students—including my niece—have been receiving in-person instruction since September. 

Or perhaps, one of the CTU leaders can visit Washington, D.C. (it’s closer than Puerto Rico after all) and observe St. John’s College High School. St. John’s has been operating under a strict hybrid model, allowing its students on campus in a regulated way with strict testing protocols and the utmost attention given to hygiene and safety precautions.

Blessed Sacrament School is another Washington, D.C. area school that is putting kids first by providing in-person instruction and doing their best to keep everyone safe. From the moment the pandemic began, the school was working with parents to design a system for in-person learning in a safe way. That was the goal.

Catholic school leaders understand the high price kids pay for being kept home indefinitely, and they realize that children of color, kids with special needs, and lower-income students are struggling the most with remote learning. That is simply not acceptable.

Two days after warning air-traffic controllers to get back to work, President Reagan began firing those air-traffic controllers who did not return. His swift and strong action surprised many, but ended the uncertainty and controversy.

President Reagan was weighing the impact of air travel schedules. Lori Lightfoot and Janice Jackson have far more important considerations weighing on them—the wellbeing and educational growth of our nation’s children.

Let the pink slips fly.