The Chicago Teachers Union, which represents more than 28,000 educators in the nation's third largest city, tweeted on Sunday: "The push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny."
That was the entire tweet; the union provided no additional comment or clarifying statement. There was no acknowledgment that many people who argue schools should reopen are doing so in good faith. A spokesperson for the union did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
To say that sexism, racism, or any other -ism is at the "root" of the (thus far unsuccessful) reopening push is absurd and insulting. Stressed-out parents who want to send their kids back to the classroom are not motivated by animus toward teachers, and they are certainly not motivated by animus toward women or minorities. Indeed, many people who want schools to reopen are women and minorities. Pandemic-related closures have disproportionately affected inner-city families that rely on public education. Young kids of color are some of the hardest hit. More than 800,000 women have dropped out of the work force during the pandemic, in large part because they now have to take care of their kids.
Given this reality, it would be more accurate to say that the push to keep schools closed is racist and sexist—though the root cause of the continuing closures is not racism or sexism, but rather the tremendous political power of teachers unions, who have lobbied district officials to stick with virtual education even as other essential employees return to work. Public school teachers, after all, continue to receive a paycheck regardless, which means their union has very little incentive to take any risk whatsoever, no matter how substandard the quality of remote education might be.
It's worth recalling that the effort to keep schools closed is not grounded in science: Everyone from Anthony Fauci to Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) agrees that many districts should move toward reopening on a case-by-case basis. The evidence shows that classrooms are not a significant source of spread for COVID-19.
If public educators are unwilling to provide the sort of education that families want and children need, then it would be preferable to return the money so that parents could make informed choices about schooling—and be able to pay for it. There's nothing racist or sexist about that. Quite the contrary.
Update: The tweet has been deleted.