Teachers Unions

Teachers Unions Hate School-Opening Science Now That They Can't Influence It

Even after the massive Biden stimulus, union head honcho Randi Weingarten complains that schools don't have the resources or ability to fully reopen.

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They got their vaccines, they got their $200 billion federal stimulus, they got $122 billion of that stimulus fast-tracked, plus an additional $12 billion out the door for coronavirus testing, but now the teachers unions that have been the single biggest obstacle to reopening K-12 classrooms in Democrat-run cities and states have come up with yet another reason to stay home from school: They do not much care for the dominant global scientific view that 3 feet is enough distance between students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are not convinced that the evidence supports changing physical distancing requirements at this time," American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten declared in a letter Tuesday to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, in response to the CDC last Friday revising its school-distancing guidelines from 6 feet to 3.

Among the institutions that do not share Weingarten's lack of conviction: The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Walensky herself (prior to joining the Biden administration), most of the 50 states, the vast majority of school districts in the industrialized world, plus one of the research teams whose work the CDC had erroneously sourced when formulating guidance for the agency's controversial February 12 recommendation to keep the 6-foot rule intact. Opined those latter scientists at the time: "No science supports mandating 6 feet of distance with children wearing masks. A 6-foot distance between students creates space constraints for schools to open in entirety. There is data supporting at least 3-foot distancing."

The 6-foot rule allowed teachers unions—whose Biden-friendly leadership directly influenced the February 12 guidance—to remain in favor of school reopening on paper, while sadly shaking their heads when it came time to, you know, open schools. This dance, about as subtle as an elephant mating ritual, has nonetheless been treated credulously by the media and Democratic political class.

So it is that Weingarten got feted in a New York Times profile ("She spends 15 hours per day on the phone, she says—with local labor leaders, mayors, the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—trying to figure out how to reopen the three-quarters of school systems that remain fully or partly closed") in the same week that she tried to make Washington, D.C., school reopening contingent on a ludicrously strict security-theater standard of shutting down schools automatically for 24 hours after just one positive COVID test so that the entire building could be scrubbed down. Science!

It's important to stress that now a slim majority of K-12 students (51.2 percent) in the United States are attending school five days a week, according to the tracking site burbio. In fact, there's only a handful of states under 50 percent; they just tend to be populous, and heavily Democratic—California, Oregon, New Mexico, Maryland, Hawaii, Washington, Nevada, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, in order of percentage closedness.

This disparity of openness has some implications worth pondering. First, it illustrates what the Brookings Institution was palpably alarmed at discovering last summer: "In reality, there is no relationship—visually or statistically—between school districts' reopening decisions and their county's new COVID-19 cases per capita. In contrast, there is a strong relationship—visually and statistically—between districts' reopening decisions and the county-level support for Trump in the 2016 election."

More to the point, the reality of kids going every day to school—not just in defiant red states like Florida and the Dakotas, but at Catholic and other private schools smack-dab in the middle of otherwise-shuttered big blue cities—provides a data-rich controlled experiment for those who have been stoking fears of snotty-nosed superspreaders.

"Our concern," Weingarten writes in her letter, "is that the [CDC's] cited studies do not identify the baseline mitigation strategies needed to support 3 feet of physical distancing. Moreover, they were not conducted in our nation's highest-density and least-resourced schools, which have poor ventilation, crowding and other structural challenges."

To which, at this late date, one might counter-ask: Where, precisely, have the structural challenges been so daunting that they led to significant school-site spread? Which dense districts in Florida, which Catholic schools in Chicago, which poorly ventilated schools in which countries in Europe? Surely the datasets must be vast!

Weingarten cites for her argument this recent paper in the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and, well, click on the link if you are persuaded by such analytical terms as "rush to reopen," or such unironic formulations as "it is important to adopt the precautionary principle." There are people who have been following this stuff closely; do catch up.

The great science writer John Tierney has a long, well-worth-reading piece this week in City Journal titled "Death and Lockdowns," in which, after running very exhaustively through the numbers, and observing that the stories they tell are hardly black and white, nonetheless concludes that: "The lockdown proponents are recklessly staying the course, still insisting that lockdowns work. The burden of proof rests with those imposing such a dangerous policy, and they haven't met it. There's still no proof that lockdowns save any lives—let alone enough to compensate for the lives they end."

Emphasis mine, in order to emphasize that Tierney's right. The precautionary principle was for March 2020, not March 2021; by now we know a lot more about the booga-booga behind the closet door.

Weingarten saves the most brazen bit of her letter for last. Even after dragging their feet on reopening, leveraging parental anger into gobs of federal cash (don't forget the extra $69 billion from 2020 COVID relief bills), all while bewildered families leave the public school system in droves, teachers unions still have the stones to plead a lack of resources:

What is the expected timeline for implementation of these changes? Many school systems are just returning to in-person instruction right now, after significant planning—for bus routes, staggered schedules, etc.—based on 6 feet of physical distancing. Even with the significant investment of American Rescue Plan money, districts lack the human resources and institutional planning ability to make changes like this quickly. Is this something that can be implemented in the fall, or perhaps the summer?

If public school districts in the United States lack the human resources and planning ability to do what their private school counterparts have long managed, then maybe it's time to recognize that those monopoly systems no longer deserve automatic taxpayer funding. You could fill a football stadium with the most effective libertarian education reformers on the planet, and their exertions combined would pale in comparison to how much, in one short year, teachers unions have turned normal people away from public schools.

Like vulture capitalists squeezing the last drops of value out of newspaper companies, teachers unions are shaking down the public for one last big payday. Only in this case, millions of kids are suffering as a result. When Randi Weingarten uses "science" in a sentence, the appropriate response is a laugh track—and getting taxpayer money far, far away from people like her.

NEXT: Biden's Gun Control Proposals Make Little Sense As a Response to the Mass Shooting in Boulder

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51 responses to “Teachers Unions Hate School-Opening Science Now That They Can't Influence It

  1. “Like vulture capitalists…”

    Using that term is a dire warning that both capitalism and freedom are dying and there are few defenders.

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  2. “We are not convinced that the evidence supports changing physical distancing requirements at this time,”

    She’s not wrong, you know. Of course, the evidence never supported the original physical distancing requirement, either, so it’s no surprise there’s no evidence for changing one arbitrary standard for another.

    1. Ah yes, the evidence standard. According to the FDA, there’s only one test that provides any evidence about treatments: the double blind human trial. The thing is, most all their recommendations lack that evidence, which is understandable, though it undercuts their statement that only a double blind human trial provides sufficient evidence to know a drug is safe an effective.

      IMHO, the evidence that private schools are open without being super spreaders, is evidence enough that government schools should be open.

      Isn’t there a politician brave enough to say, that if teachers aren’t working, they shouldn’t be paid? The incentive the government created by paying them for not working, is not good for the public.

  3. Very good article, Mr. Welch.
    The public school unions have definitely overplayed their hands here.

    1. Just here? Lol. God damn obese clown.

      1. Go back to the playground

        1. Go back to other articles to comment on this one, dumbass.

          1. Dumbass, fatass, liar, he’s all of the above.

    2. The public sector unions should be banned and the public sector union leaders should be pilloried in the public square if they resist the banning.

    3. …and *finally* a critical mass boosting private schools, home schooling and hopefully charter schools to continue the driving of nails in to the public school corruption coffin…

  4. I enjoy this “Seething” version of Welch-anger

    Let it flow

  5. Public sector unions always have a gun they can point at the electorate to extort money, and they should be illegal.

    The fact they aren’t shows how much influence they’ve had up to this point, even to the normals who don’t pay any attention.


    Like vulture capitalists squeezing the last drops of value out of newspaper companies…

    Uhh…that’s not why those ‘capitalists’ bought legacy media outlets. They wanted to skin them and wear their legitimacy to pump out their own political viewpoints.

    No ‘capitalist’ invests in a business model that is clearly dying to even the most uneducated observers.

    1. Unionization should never be *illegal*. It is part and parcel of the freedom to associate.

      What should be closely looked at, however, are the special protections and privileges that are granted to labor unions. Like, for example, exclusivity in representation a particular bargaining unit. Why can’t there be more than one union representing different workers in a particular workplace? That is quite a bit less defensible.

      1. Even FDR was against public employee unions. So what does Chemjeff do? Reject His Holiness Saint New Deal I, or does he reject the progressive shock troops of the teachers’ unions? Oh, no!

      2. Public unions shouldn’t be necessary. That’s what the ballot box is for. You think teachers should get paid more, or schools need more resources – vote for a candidate who will do it.

        Salaries for public employees and other benefits should be a matter of government policy, not negotiations with a union.

        1. The corruption loop is too tight with public sector unions. Large voting block that is directly rewarded by the politicians they support and vote for. No middle man in that loop.

      3. It is also part and parcel with the freedom to associate that government entities need not do business with these unions.

      4. “Unionization should never be *illegal*. It is part and parcel of the freedom to associate.”

        But who is the other side of those negotiations? Negotiating with another party who does not have their direct money on the line is not a negotiation. Especially if the union can help get the people hired or fired who negotiate with them.

        Bare minimum, it is a massive conflict of interest.

        1. Yeah, that conflict of interest is the real problem with government employee unions. There’s an argument to be made, that government employees shouldn’t have the vote because of that conflict.

          But with government schools, the real problem is the monopoly given to government schools where only they get property tax revenues as opposed to other schools. Take away that monopoly, then teachers’ unions have to compete in a free market, where their union teachers’ demands for higher wages leads to less union teachers and schools.

          IMHO, the idea we all should pay for everyone’s education is also suspect, and is a socialist idea. Who’s deciding how much education we get (and what if we didn’t learn it the first time)? Seems to me, parents should be responsible for their children’s educations, up to a point.

  6. The CDC has all along said “masking” was for when you couldn’t (anti)social distance. So with masks, the kids should be able to sit in each other’s laps. And the 24 hour closure for cleaning is bullshit; we all wear masks because it is airborne, not surface transmitted. Or so the lying guy in the white coat said. When he said we don’t need masks. Before he said we need masks or distancing. Before he said we need masks AND distancing. Before he said we need vaccines. before he said even with vaccines, we need masks. Before he said we need two masks AND vaccines. Before he said whatever the hell he makes up next.
    The teacher’s unions are lying too. Governors just need to open the schools to full in person learning and if a teacher doesn’t show up three days running, fire them for job abandonment.

  7. I would have thought that Democrats would be chomping at the bit to re-open public schools given their critical function in educating children about climate change, gender diversity, and anti-racism. But what do I know?

    1. Schools are racist and carbon heavy producers

  8. Not much science in this piece. Low level rhetorical bits
    , some cherry-picking (which intends to distort rather than illuminate,) and lots of tu quoque. I’m honestly disappointed in the erosion of reason in Reason. Even your commenters say childish things like “Democrat Party.” There’s no such thing. And the sweeping indictment of teachers under the banner of “Reason” constitutes some pretty hilarious stuff.

    1. In which unionized public school system do you teach?

      1. ++

    2. Are you married to the ugly, stupid woman?

  9. This ugly woman can’t wrap her mind around the fact that almost every other school district in the country has had it figured out for many months. She’s quite obviously just a stupid, small minded person.

    1. Speaking of stupid and small minded, fuck you Sullum. you are a stain and embarrassment here.

      https://thenationalpulse.com/analysis/the-q-lie-the-power-grab-response-after-january-6th-was-the-real-insurrection/

  10. “There is data supporting at least 3-foot distancing.”

    *** facepalm ***

  11. > They got their vaccines, they got their $200 billion federal stimulus, they got $122 billion of that stimulus fast-tracked, plus an additional $12 billion out the door for coronavirus testing, but now the teachers unions that have been the single biggest obstacle to reopening K-12 classrooms in Democrat-run cities and states have come up with yet another reason to stay home from school: They do not much care for the dominant global scientific view that 3 feet is enough distance between students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Well then fuck their union. They’re may be there to support the salary (not wage, salary) desires of their members, but their members ARE THERE TO SUPPORT THE CHILDREN. If they can’t do their job then get out of the way so we can hire people who will.

    We have given in to their EVERY demand, and they still refuse to teach. It’s decades past time when public schools should have been sold off to the highest bidders. I don’t mean charter schools, I mean actual private schools in business to teach. Go full tuition vouchers, or better yet, full tuition tax credits. Get the government and their felatting unionists out of the job of teaching our children.

  12. Use the Reagan solution. FIRE THEM.

    1. came here to say the same thing

    2. No, no, no! The democrat/union solution is to reward incompetence and bad behavior by PROMOTING them. If these teachers don’t want to teach, then they can be promoted as administrators with six figure salaries to oversee home and private schooling social justice curricula that will be mandatory

    3. Ditto

  13. So the bottom line is still the same — The whiny spoiled brats (Democrats) get to STEAL money from those who work and create and the ‘new’ Nazism status-quo is that the more they whine and cry about working the more they get?

  14. There is no way in hell you will get them to pry their fat asses off Waikiki beach and other Caribbean resorts. Why should they? They are getting paid to vacation and receiving HUGE bonuses. Public education is about creating the citizens the government wants and has nothing to do with education and everything to do with indoctrination to ensure complete control of society by indoctrinating the minds of future citizens and leaders. Charter schools, and better yet, home schooling are the solution if you really give a damn about your children.

    1. Amen! But as soon as you see a mass exodus from the public school system nation-wide, you will see DUMBOCRATS do all they can to criminalize home schooling and remove children from the custody of parents who dare defy them.

  15. Cut off ALL funding to school districts that refuse to open and give administrators a deadline to open or be removed from office. Give teachers a deadline to be back in the classrooms and pull their certification to teach if they fail to comply. I’m sick of this garbage.

  16. As long as the government pays people to be ‘victims’……the world will never know an end to endless ‘grievances.’

  17. Good article, Matt.
    We should all understand that the PATCO solution is the right one for public employee unions — everywhere in this country. That, coupled with LR Heckerman’s somewhat overstated case for voluntary withdrawal from these statist institutions. (e.g., remote teaching is not from beaches, and is harder than Heckerman implies — at least for the teachers that care about non-indoctrinational teaching, of whom there are a significant percentage, but apparently not enough to take out the garbage.)

    The politics of all this, rather than the “science” is blatant in this case. Two cheers for federal forms of government. Three cheers for LIMITED government. What is government doing in education, anyway? In the past, you could make a case for the Little House On The Prairie, or The Cowboys, educational foundation. Today, you can still make such a argument for it as a safety-net welfare program. Nothing more. But you would have to gut the administration of it, as it is staffed and run just as other such programs are — destructively.

    Government education struggles to retain a monopoly of their lousy service. As in most everything else government touches, human freedom, and its success, is diminished. The mainstream media continues to front for these buggers. They are inextricably bound to the statists. CNN is the major joke. MSNBC a close second.

  18. My mom decided to retire from thirty three years in the classroom. She told me she’s sick of the continuous blame for everything. She has been a devoted teacher of the deaf most of her career. She has excellent sign language skills and the children love her. She has taught N-12. The Covid pushed her decision. It’s sad that these children will lose such a devoted teacher. Mom will receive $3900 plus full medical and dental insurance. She has earned every penny.

  19. Cut off ALL funding to school districts that refuse to open and give administrators a deadline to open or be removed from office,
    Government education struggles to retain a monopoly of their lousy service. As in most everything else government touches, human freedom, and its success, is diminished. The mainstream media continues to front for these buggers. They are inextricably bound to the statists. CNN is the major joke. MSNBC a close second.
    https://www.scrumpts.in/

  20. My mom decided to retire from thirty three years in the classroom. She told me she’s sick of the continuous blame for everything.

    https://www.biggbosstelugu.xyz/

  21. Our schools teach White students that they are immoral and contemptible if they don’t support the White Genocide that’s being carried out by massive third-world immigration and FORCED assimilation i.e diversity in EVERY White country and ONLY White countries.

    Their teachers never tell them, “White self-hatred is SICK!!!“

    Those teachers claim to be anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

  22. One way to improve the education of our children is to privatize education. In other words, offer some funding to private schools.

    This will never happen with a democrat majority.

    Libertarians are the only third party that has the infrastructure to support a third party presidential candidate. Maybe you can compromise your principles, select a candidate that can actually win and save this republic.

  23. I would like to add my point of view here. Frankly speaking, I partially agree with the previous comment about privatization of education it might have a positive impact on it. I read one article https://specialessays.com/annotated-bibliography-writing/ where this issue is discussed.

  24. I live in Texas. Schools have been open since Labor Day. California schools are still mostly closed, but the cases per capita between Texas and California are within 3%.

    Children are not seriously affected by the Chinese Wuhan virus, and they are not significant carriers.

    Even college students are not seriously affected. Out of 49,000 college students who tested positive, none died, and only a few with other health problems were hospitalized.

    People with serious health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and diabetes, are the ones who get seriously ill and who produce a high viral load to spread to others. These conditions are highly correlated with advanced age.

    The best response would have been to keep the schools open and close the nursing homes.

  25. It’s obvious that the Government is not capable of running schools and this should be left to the private sector. Any government monies should move with the kids and the parents should decide where their kids attend school or if they are home schooled.

    Education is important, but uncritical indoctrination is not. Government schools don’t educate, but indoctrinate and force standardized and approved thought. The goal should be learning to use ones mind to determine for themselves instead of regurgitating the official dogma that Government schools force on students.

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