Discourse

Teachers unions are killing students with their selfish demands to keep schools closed

American school children are suffering abuse and negligence at the hands of teachers unions and the leaders that facilitate them.
Libby Emmons
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

Open schools. All of them. Right now. Give kids their lives back. Children need an education, they need a social life, and the fact that this even needs saying is mind-blowing. Even more shocking is that the people who need to hear this are the teachers and their unions who are refusing to go back to work and do their jobs

Kids who have no hope for the future are killing themselves rather than continue to engage in a life that is only accessible through screens. Suicides doubled in Las Vegas' school district. Suicides among young people are up 30 percent in Seattle. The CDC knows that suicides are increasing, they've said so. Suicide was already up, per data released on rates of youth suicide from 2007-2018, suicide deaths in the age group 10 to 24 rose almost 60 percent, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 42 states experienced a drastic rise in youth suicides. Screen time and feelings of isolation were two of the factors blamed. These are only exacerbated by the response to the pandemic.

Teachers unions are keeping kids out of school. They've said so, they insist upon it. The Chicago Teachers Union has refused to go back to work, refused to do anything but teach kids from afar. Now that the Chicago Public School system is demanding that teachers get back in the classroom, the union has threatened to strike. These administrators, and whoever voted for the strike plan, don't care about the students in their charge. If they did, they would actually work with the school district to put kids first.

Those who have made their profession the education of children are the very people who are keeping them from the classroom, forcing them to try and learn through video conferences, and watching them fail over and over again. Even before the pandemic, children were struggling to see a future for themselves. Now, the future has been abandoned in favour of an endless, meaningless, tedious present.

Kids have virtually no life outside of school even in the best of times. Now, they go to school online. They do their homework online. They talk to their friends online. They are bullied online. And there is no respite from any of it. It's making them miserable, depressed, and suicidal. And to top it off, they are not major vectors of the disease. Neither is the age group that most teachers are in, under 55.

COVID took the lives of over 24,551 Americans between the ages of 24-54, out of 360,529 deaths in that age group from all factors. 79 children aged 1-14 died from COVID out of 8,828, while 525 15-24 year olds died out of 34,922 deaths in that age group. It goes without saying that premature death is cause for sadness, but the mitigation that is being done is taking additional lives needlessly.

Keeping schools closed is also destroying the educational system, and the educations of millions of American kids. Kids' grades are falling across the board. Numerous localities have reported on this, and many more school districts have simply forgone grades altogether. The actual logic here is that kids can't be classified as failing if they don't receive the failing grade. To save kids from failing, we just won't tell them they are failing. Turning report cards into lies doesn't help anything.

We must open schools now. Not K-8 over 100 days as President Biden has promised, but all schools, K-12, now. School is more than a place where kids learn in class, it is their entire lives. Think back to your school days, when you were a kid, school was what your whole life was about. It's where you saw your friends, it's where you studied, played sports, made art, met other people, it was basically your entire public existence. What happened at school and in school relationships was more important than anything else, and it played out every day. Parents, out of school activities, were not as essential to your life as what happened at school.

As I write this, my son sits across from me at the dining table and he is miserable. His laptop is open, his teachers are talking through screen, telling everyone to make sure they fill out their Google slides for their Ruby Bridges reports. He'd been permitted to go to school three days per week, but after two cases of COVID were found in the school a week ago, the building has closed until February. He is despondent over the closure. And it isn't COVID that's to blame, but the reaction to it that is robbing our kids of an education and destroying their lives.

Keeping kids out of school is a cruel and unusual deprivation. The kids are not superspreading the virus. Schools have been safe. Let kids have their lives back. Stealing their childhood, years that do not come back, stealing their ability to figure out how to be human adults who know how to live and act in public is inhumane.

If teachers unions are holding our kids hostage to their fears, and not working to get our kids back in school where they belong, then it is the unions that are the problem. The stranglehold that teachers unions have on public education has become shockingly clear. So many teachers want to teach, but their unions are holding them back. Teachers who don't want to teach and the unions who demand that teachers who refuse to work get paid anyway, are standing in the way of America's future.

American school children are suffering abuse and negligence at the hands of teachers unions and the leaders that facilitate them. Either open the schools now, all of them, or give parents their tax dollars to enroll their children elsewhere. Nothing should stand in the way of our children's right to an education.

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