Remember when teachers unions around the country insisted they were eager to reopen schools but only once it could be done safely? Unions gave all sorts of excuses. First it was that not all teachers had been vaccinated. Then it was that schools lacked sufficient ventilation. Then it was that not all students had been vaccinated. The shifting list of demands had only one clear goal: Keep teachers (and students) out of classrooms for as long as possible. Even when local authorities tried to twist their arms, they refused to return.
And as the evidence piled up that remote learning wasn’t working for a large number of students, unions simply ignored or denied it. Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of the LA Teacher’s Union, claimed no learning loss had taken place during the 18 months LA schools were closed. “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables…They know the difference between a riot and a protest,” she said. Some unions claimed the push to get teachers back to classrooms was racist.
Fortunately, all of that is behind us now. Or maybe not. Today the NY Times reports that schools are extending time off and resorting to one day a week (or a month) as remote learning only:
Caitlin Reynolds, a single mother, was happy that her son, L.J., was finally settled into fourth grade after a rocky experience last year with remote learning.
Then, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, an announcement: Detroit public schools would close their classrooms every Friday in December. There would be virtual school only.
On Friday, a follow-up announcement: School was also canceled starting that Monday, for the entire week of Thanksgiving…
At least six other school districts in Michigan extended Thanksgiving break, and three districts in Washington State, including Seattle Public Schools, unexpectedly closed on Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day. In one instance, Brevard Public Schools in Florida used leftover “hurricane days” to close schools for the entire week of Thanksgiving.
In Utah, the Canyons School District announced that all of its schools would go remote one Friday a month from November until March, equivalent to more than a week of school.
Why is this happening? It seems unions have mostly given up on COVID related excuses. Instead, they are now blaming the same parents who were unhappy schools remained closed in the first place.
Battles in the classroom — from mask mandates to debates over critical race theory — have also taken a toll, said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-biggest teachers’ union.
“What you hear from teachers is that it’s been too much,” she said. “And they’re trying the best that they can.”
One thing you can bet on is that this trend will spread. As word gets around that teachers are deciding to take a weekly break or additional days off, more teachers will decide that sounds good and do likewise. Is that good for students? Almost certainly not, but unions stopped worrying about that more than a year ago. Remember, “Our kids didn’t lose anything.” Days stuck at home doing nothing are just opportunities for alternative learning or as this commenter put it, time for parents to step up.
Veteran public school teacher here. I am hearing the same experiences over and over from my former colleagues (and on several private teacher-only message boards): rude parents, combative students, undermining administrators, useless curriculum, stagnant wages, total burnout. Some of their personal stories from the classroom this year would make your toes curl. We understand this is a profession that has its ups and downs, but the near-constant abuse and the general consensus for years that teachers are responsible for all of the ills of society have finally taken their toll. To the teachers in the trenches: I see you, and I support you. I know the invisible load you carry and the unseen work you do. If virtual Fridays help to make your life and mental health better, it’s time for parents to step up and do their part.
There are a lot more comments like this. Teachers, who already have 8 weeks off every year, are apparently being overworked and parents need to just stop complaining.
Parents are free to get credentialed and apply for jobs as teachers themselves, to fill some of the shortages. Otherwise, they should probably stop complaining.
This next guy is even blaming the students. He’s quoting a line from the story where a student stuck at home needed help on an assignment and couldn’t get it.
“How am I supposed to learn on my own?” Read a book. Part of education is learning to learn on your own.
Teach yourselves, dummies! That’s the level of sympathy coming from some of these commenters toward abandoned kids. For some reason the top comment on this story is actually an endorsement of full socialism:
We need to seriously look at four day work weeks, universal basic income, free child care, and other programs which will allow parents to care for their families instead of expecting schools to raise, feed, and socialize children.
For our country and species to survive, we need to stop worrying about profit and wealth for the few and start ensuring quality of life for all workers.
Eventually, if you scroll down far enough you get to some comments that seem more sensible:
I’m a lifelong liberal Democrat. I live in a big blue city in a blue state. I’m also a father of young twin sons who has seen up close how teachers unions and DOEs in blue states have behaved during the pandemic. This no-school Friday is merely the latest example of self-serving decisions. They have done zero risk balancing, have acted in the interests of their most extreme members, and accused parents who want their kids in school of being white supremacists who just want free childcare. The result has been learning and social-emotional loss that has hit poor students harder than anyone. I cannot think of any other industry where you just get to decide not to work a certain number of days, but still get paid. Most people don’t have school-age children so they don’t understand the tremendous welling of parental anger about their childrens’ needs being ignored. I was not surprised by the election in Virginia and I won’t be at all surprised when the country swings right in 2022 – at this point, Randi Weingarten and the UFT are the best friends of the Republican Party.
He’s right. If teachers embrace this trend then what we saw happen in Virginia will be just a prologue to what is to come. If you insist on pissing off parents, your party will pay a price.