Stan Greer: Do as we say or school buildings will stay shuttered

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Stan Greer, senior research associate for the National Institute for Labor Relations Research.

Roughly four months ago, when politicians and bureaucrats across nearly the entire country shuttered K-12 public schools as part of local, state and federal efforts to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, few if any public officials suggested that schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year. But that’s what happened, with very few exceptions.

As summer neared, America’s parents of the roughly 50 million children who attend a K-12 school were overwhelmingly ready to have them return to attending school, at least part-time, come fall, according to a scientific survey conducted in late May and early June by Gallup.

The survey found that an overwhelming 93% of K-12 parents want their kids to attend in-person classes in the fall, compared to just 7% who prefer full-time distance learning. Fifty-six percent of all the parents surveyed prefer full-time in-person school for their children, while 37% prefer a mix of in-person and distance learning.

The near-unanimous wishes of parents seem completely reasonable, given that the risk to schoolchildren of falling seriously ill from COVID-19 is by all accounts extremely low and, according to leading British epidemiologist Mark Woolhouse, there is so far not a single recorded case of a teacher catching the coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world.

Of course, as a consequence of more than 30 state monopoly-bargaining laws that grant a handful of teacher union bosses effective veto power over how schools serving the vast majority of K-12 students nationwide are managed, what parents and schoolchildren want may not have much influence over what they get.

As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT/AFL-CIO) union officials in state after state and school district after school district are making it clear they will do everything in their ample power to keep school buildings from reopening as previously scheduled.  Meanwhile, Big Labor politicians are contorting themselves in their efforts to do NEA and AFT bosses’ bidding.

For example, on July 17, Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom bowed to the demands of Golden State teacher union bosses and essentially ordered schools across most of California to keep their doors closed for the entire fall semester.

In states whose elected officials have refused to do teacher union bosses’ bidding, they are trying to get Big Labor-“friendly” judges to keep schools closed. The most notorious case is Right to Work Florida, where on July 21 top bosses of the NEA statewide affiliate filed a lawsuit to block the governor and state elected officials from the supposedly “reckless and unsafe” reopening of schools for in-person classes.

Though schools are now reopening around the world and safely reopened last spring in multiple European countries, including some that were harder hit by COVID-19 than the U.S., top teacher union bosses here insist this won’t happen until an array of their political demands are met.

An official statement from the AFT union hierarchy in June insists that the national average taxpayer-funded expenditures of roughly $13,600 per full-time pupil must rise by another $2,300 in response to COVID-19 for schools to reopen — eventually. If union kingpins don’t get what they want, “school buildings will stay shuttered” permanently.

The brazen power grab now being executed by the top bosses of the NEA and the AFT unions and their subsidiaries, in which school openings are being conditioned on the institution of socialized medicine and a moratorium on (generally union-free) charter schools as well as massive government spending and tax increases, shows more vividly than ever before why they should never have been granted monopoly-bargaining power over educators in the first place.

To defend the interests of children who rely on government schools for their education and taxpayers who finance these schools, elected officials in states whose laws currently mandate “exclusive” union bargaining over teachers’ pay, benefits, and work rules must fight to roll those laws back as soon as possible.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/ProjectManhattan
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11 thoughts on “Stan Greer: Do as we say or school buildings will stay shuttered

  1. Trump, GOP Push School-Choice Funds in COVID Aid Bill
    By Susan Crabtree – RCP Staff
    July 27, 2020
    “Late last week, however, Trump started getting creative. Drawing on his history of supporting school-choice initiatives, he announced an ambitious new effort to give parents billions in federal funds – as much as $10,000 per child — and allow them to pick the emergency-education method that would best fit their child’s and families’ needs.”

    “If the schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their children to [the] public, private, charter, religious or home school of their choice,” Trump told reporters Thursday during a press briefing. “The key word being ‘choice.’ If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions.”

    • This could put NEA and dumpster fire the’ve started out of business – these self-important astonishingly compensated academicians riding herd over families and children could be put out of business in a New York minute. Bring back the parochials! 😉

  2. Defund public schools now, this is our chance to hire better teachers and form systems of schools that actually work for our pupils. If the teachers refuse to go back then it is within our power to fire them all and start over. Let us look at this as opportunity though disguised by the NEA etc as holding us all hostage. I believe they may have made a grave mistake by drawing this line in the sand against us, the taxpayer.

    • So true, so true.

      Unfortunately they own the super majority, who play for the same team, which is not our children by any means.

      Your plan would be awesome….

  3. Vermont spends $22k with retirement per kid.

    I’d love to teach, 2-4 kids in first, second, third grade, have a private office for the class room and pocket 88k for the school season. Bet they do very, very well in class too.

    What a great way for home schooling to flourish and prosper.

    The money Vermont spends per student is ludicrous. Let’s look under the hood, bet we find much waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers money.

    Keep the schools, keep the teachers and start all over. It’s not that difficult, we only make it that way.

  4. If National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers
    (AFT/AFL-CIO) union officials want to keep the schools closed….. Good !!

    Priority one, give me back my ” School Tax Funds ” sell off all properties that
    are not being used, the average Americans will find a way to educate all the
    children, yes educate not indoctrinate.

    Liberal in charge, what a joke and your kids are getting the brunt of it ….pathetic !!

    Wake up people, it’s all about an agenda !!!

  5. Sounds like a great plan. Finally a fix to the insane property tax issue, local control and school consolidation, all with the help of the teachers’ union. How much better can it get that full parental control and no more reason for education property taxes! And no more 2 hour rides to and from schools on those yellow buses.

    There are much better values in education than public schools … much better education for much lower cost. Here is one source with links to free market options:

    One option that is linked from Public School Exit is Just yesterday a key person pulling this together met at our home in Virginia to work on building a shop and engineering program into iLumenEd. These folks are way out in front. If you want a stable option, iLumenEd offers an interactive live online class room for under $3K per year, and there are scholarships available. So classes could be done as a group, like the old one-room school houses in churches or other buildings with minimal adult supervision or at home. Regardless of what the governors mandate, every child in iLumened can keep on his or her education.

    John Dewey must be rolling over in his grave. How is his Marxist indoctrination plans going to progress with his public school model for creating little Marxist closed? On second thought, at this point John Dewey probably understands just how wrong he was. What a sad way to waste the only life he will ever get.

  6. “…as a consequence of more than 30 state monopoly-bargaining laws that grant a handful of teacher union bosses effective veto power over how schools serving the vast majority of K-12 students nationwide are managed, what parents and schoolchildren want may not have much influence over what they get.”

    I hope all Vermonters now understand the insidious nature of the public school monopoly. Neither the VT Agency of Education or local school boards, all ostensibly representing the voters, can do anything without VT NEA acquiescence (i.e. permission). Consider too that the education curricula, when and how its taught, and the cost to taxpayers, are equally out of control.

    The litmus test for anyone running for public office in Vermont should be their guaranty they will eliminate the public school monopoly. Anything short of that promise is an admission of their totalitarian intent.

    • The Destruction of our Tax Funded Public Education system is an Act Of War.

      Think about it.
      This is the entire future of our nation here, literally.
      We The People paid for these schools and this system- and look at what this party is doing/has done to this system, to us, to the country, to the entire world.
      Think of the brilliant kids being forced out of the schools right now because they won’t comply.
      Think of the people being forced out of Vermont right now.
      Good people always vote with their feet.

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