Black parents in south Los Angeles are outraged after the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) president said that wealthy parents are behind push to reopen schools and that reopening is racist.
California's largest local teachers' union called the Golden State’s new school reopening plan "a recipe for propagating structural racism" just hours after Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom and fellow lawmakers unveiled the proposal.
UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said at a press conference Monday, "We are being unfairly targeted by people who are not experiencing this disease in the same ways as students and families are in our communities. If this was a rich person's disease, we would've seen a very different response. We would not have the high rates of infections and deaths. Now educators are asked instead to sacrifice ourselves, the safety of our students and the safety of our schools."
Black parents told FOX 11 that Myart-Cruz "does not speak for us" and they will be holding a reopening rally on Saturday.
Lamar Freeman told Fox 11 that "every parent he talks to wants their kids back in school & UTLA's comments "sounded like an excuse". Freeman said he has been a coach of LA Rampage, a youth football team in Watts, since 2011 and said prior to Zoom learning, his team had an 80 percent honor roll rate that has now dropped to 20 percent.
During his opening monologue Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson devoted the segment to showcasing the damaging effects the school closures are having on students and specifically called out Myart-Cruz's statements. "The first thing you will find in her biography is that she is the first woman of color in the union's fifty year history. So Cecily Myart-Cruz believes her skin color is a job qualification somehow, maybe the m ost important one she has."
Carlson continued, "Why is she saying this? She is hoping you won't realize she is incompetent or that her positions don't make any sense at all.Cecily Myart-Cruz is telling us that poor families benefit most from us closing schools but of course the opposite is true. Poor families need their kids back in school because they don't have any alternatives. Most of the 'white wealthy parents she is attacking don't use the public schools precisely because they don't want their kids near lazy mediocrities like Cecily Myart-Cruz."
UTLA told Fox 11 that Pew Research polling supported Myart-Cruz’s statement that white, wealthy parents are primarily behind school reopening pressure.
The majority of California schools have been closed for a year, mostly as a result of failure of the districts to negotiate reopening terms with teachers unions. According to Politico, the reopening plan "does not require schools to open but instead offers $2 billion in financial incentives for those that open before April 1."
Myart-Cruz demanded that schools in LA County remain until all teachers and staff receive both doses of the vaccine. "The fact is that the plan does not supersede our legal right to bargain working conditions with LAUSD and our continued determination to do so." Myart-Cruz added that Newsom and state lawmakers can "increase the political pressure, but they cannot change the science."
Myart-Cruz also accused white, wealthy parents of "driving the push behind a rushed return." The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention have previously said that social distancing and masks were enough for schools to reopen and that the vaccine for teachers or students was not a prerequisite to opening. Recent studies have shown that vaccinating school staff has less of an impact on COVID outbreaks than countermeasures put in place by the schools.