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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Like so many Americans during this pandemic, my children are suffering. Millions of American kids are suffering.
I have two boys who attend public school in New Jersey. Currently, our town has no active COVID cases.
My kids have not been learning since March. Technically, they were in school and are supposed to start again. The reason I say “technically” is because remote learning is not school, not for them or many children.
Online classes will never replace in-school learning.
Nothing can replace the teacher at the chalkboard, leading students. Nothing can replicate playing and socializing with friends at recess or asking your teachers questions directly. My kids and so many other kids need normalcy. They need real-life interaction with their teachers, administrators, and especially their peers.
The kids need to be in school.
This is not a knock on what teachers are dealing with. Teachers weren’t trained to give virtual school lessons during a pandemic. None of us were trained for this.
At the same time, if the teachers’ union in my town had its way school would never re-open. Teachers would be able to teach on their couches with their dogs barking and their own children serving as background distractions. It would be like those TV reporters who work from their home office and then have their kids or pets walk in during the middle of a shot. At that point, the report no longer matters, it’s just a viral gigglefest for the reporter and the audience.
When it comes to teaching in a school environment, the teachers need to be there to regain authority. The kids need to be there, too, but especially the teacher. But the teachers’ union is unstoppable.
The union can shut down a school and not think twice about it. The union is the real boss. We just pay their members’ salaries and have no say. It doesn’t matter that the kids are not getting what they need on Zoom. It doesn’t matter that the education is more like a virtual reality video game.
I’m upset about this situation. My town as I stated earlier has no cases. ZERO cases. The superintendent has worked day and night to try and put the kids back into the classroom. At first, 68 percent of the parents voted for in-school learning five days a week for four hours a day.
Then the teachers voted. Ninety percent of them wanted a hybrid model. That meant no more than 50 percent of the student body would be in class at any given time. With that model, the kids would go home after four hours, have 90 minutes to eat, and then finish the day remotely on zoom.
Then someone asked if the teachers will work in school the entire day. The answer was, “They will be allowed to go home when the students do.”
This is not about safety for 90 percent of the teachers. It is about childcare. The teachers do not want to figure out what to do with their own kids like the rest of us need to. This is no longer a safety concern. It’s a childcare situation. The teachers can’t say that they are concerned about the safety that goes with coming to school if the children aren’t going to be in the classroom.
The combination of some in-school learning and some Zoom learning isn’t perfect, but it’s better than all remote. I still prefer them to be in school all the time.
What’s not acceptable is what is about to happen: The teachers’ union is about to push for only remote learning. And the union is going to push for teachers to be able to work full-time from home.
The teachers all say they want to wait for a vaccine before going back to school. What happens when some students/teachers do not want to take the vaccine? The teacher’s union will go ballistic and say, “It’s not safe.”
It is a scam. The teacher’s union owns the schools. Nobody cares about the children or the people who pay the taxes for the teachers to have jobs. We’re irrelevant. Our kids are irrelevant.
In America, if you do not want to work, you do not have to. You can quit. You want to work half a day, you would get half the pay. That is the real world. Teachers do not live in that world.
They are hurting the kids they are paid to educate. Kids right now are waiting to go back to school, only to be disappointed when they cannot return to be with their friends.
We are scheduled to start school in two weeks on the hybrid model the teachers wanted. That will never happen. Despite having zero cases, the union is going to say the environment is not safe.
Don’t get me wrong. No teacher should have to work if they have a legitimate pre-existing condition and are deemed to be at risk. Likewise, no parent should have to send their child to school if they don’t want to. Parents can opt for remote learning for their children.
But mark my words, remote learning is going to be the only option soon enough.
While the union dominates, the superintendent is the only one who will be held accountable and she has no control over the union. She is doing her job. She is responsive. She is showing up to work every day.
However, unlike the teachers and principals, she isn’t protected by a union.
The bottom line is this: The essential workers who work at hospitals, hardware stores, supermarkets, and our first responders have all been on the job unless they are high-risk.
We know who is at risk. We know who should be protected. We want them all to be protected.
Teachers are always saying they are essential. I agree with them.
It is time for them to act like it.
For the kids’ sake.