Out in Oakland, California, there was finally some good news for parents and students around the region’s extensive school district. A deal had been reached between the district and the teacher’s unions that would have most of the area’s K-8 students back in the classroom for in-person education soon, with some heading back to class on Tuesday. This was particularly important for the parents of students with disabilities and homeless, foster and special needs students who had been falling far behind with remote learning as the only available option. And those were the students who were being prioritized to get back to the classroom first.
Unfortunately, I’m speaking about all of this good news in the past tense for a reason. The planned return to the classrooms is now canceled. The reason is that despite the union negotiators agreeing to the plan, the vast majority of the teachers are still refusing to go back to work. And that refusal is taking place even though teachers were moved to the front of the line for vaccinations, a key demand that was made during the negotiations. So what’s their excuse this time? (Fox News)
Public school teachers in Oakland, Calif., have opted not to return to the classroom until the mandatory start date in mid-April, despite priority vaccinations and cash incentives.
School officials on Thursday, were forced to cancel their previously scheduled reopening dates next week at six elementary schools and 10 preschools, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
After seven months of distance learning, some students were supposed to be able to head back to in-person teaching on Tuesday, as agreed to by the district and unions.
I find it interesting that the news coverage of this story describes the actions of the teachers as “opting not to return to the classroom.” There is no organized strike approved by the unions going on. The schools are supposed to be reopening. In other words, what these teachers are actually doing is simply refusing to do their jobs. In virtually any other area of employment, that’s a situation where you find yourself out of a job, but for some reason, the teachers in our public schools can simply thumb their noses at the public while continuing to expect to collect a paycheck on the public’s dime.
One Elementary School official sent out a letter to parents describing this development as “disappointing” but assured them that they were “working hard” to find a way to bring the kids back to the classroom.
“Disappointing?” Really? Those teachers are literally holding thousands of children hostage. Their demands to push to the head of the vaccination line were met. An agreement was struck. What exactly is stopping the school district from simply handing out pink slips and running help wanted ads to recruit some new teachers who will actually be willing to do their jobs?
I still smell the fingerprints of the unions here. We’ve seen teacher’s unions in other cities engaged in similar shenanigans under the table already this year. In Chicago, it was discovered that the teacher’s union there had sent out a message telling teachers to hide their vaccination status so the district wouldn’t know when enough teachers had been vaccinated to reopen the schools. Unions in other cities continue to throw up obstacles to reopening the classrooms. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that a recent survey showed people in one occupation reporting the highest levels of having found “some benefit” from the pandemic And that occupation was public school teachers.
This isn’t a problem that can be successfully addressed on a case-by-case basis. It’s simply too widespread. What we really need is some comprehensive reforms in our labor laws to prevent this sort of hostage-taking from continuing to occur. Nobody is supposed to be entirely “fire-proof” if they simply refuse to do their jobs. And that should be even more true when the people in question are being paid via the largesse of the taxpayers.