In Chicago, for many children, school closing for the day could mean a day on the streets, where homicides have soared and crime is rampant. Couple the dangers of a crime-riddled society with a degraded education, and the city’s children are in big trouble. That’s why it’s so dangerous for Chicago’s teachers’ union to play political games with the city’s school system over COVID. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board calls the union’s refusal to open schools a scandal.
Will Joe Biden Speak Up for the Children?
What remains to be seen is whether or not Joe Biden will abandon Chicago’s children as well, and all the children of America by endorsing such closures.
The political scandal of the year so far is unfolding in plain sight in Chicago, where the teachers union has effectively shut down the public schools. Will this finally cause President Biden to speak up for children? Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is showing the way.
Chicago schools were supposed to be open Wednesday, but they shut down after the Chicago Teachers Union voted against in-person learning. The CTU says it won’t relent until the surge in Covid-19 cases has subsided, or the school district signs an agreement “establishing conditions for return” approved by the CTU.
Even Mayor Lori Lightfoot is unhappy, correctly noting that Chicago’s classrooms are safe and accusing the union of an “illegal work stoppage.” She added that teachers who didn’t show up Wednesday would be put on no-pay status. We’ll see how long that lasts given how powerful the CTU is in Democratic politics.
The Sad Costs of Closed Schools
Children have been irreparably harmed by half-baked COVID closures that don’t take into account their entire health. WSJ reports:
The CTU action comes as we are learning about the full—and unnecessary—costs inflicted on children in the name of Covid prevention. These include mental-health issues, losing ground academically, and the lack of normal socialization. This damage has all been done even though children remain among the least at risk for a severe case of Covid.
On CBS’s “Face the Nation” this weekend, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also emphasized that schools can be opened safely. “We know what works, and I believe even with Omicron, our default should be in-person learning for all students across the country.”
Arizona Provides a Better Way Forward
There are better ways to help kids than shutting down schools. WSJ explains the success of Arizona on this front:
The contrast couldn’t be greater in Arizona, where Gov. Ducey on Tuesday announced the Open for Learning Recovery Benefit. The program offers parents $7,000 in education-related aid if their child’s school shuts down. If a school closes for even a day, families who meet the income requirements can apply for funds that can be used for school-coordinated transportation, online tutoring, approved child care and, most important, tuition. This effectively makes it a voucher.
On Twitter Mr. Ducey said the program is about ensuring that “in-person learning will continue in Arizona.” He also accused teachers unions of “playing political games” with no regard for the impact on their students. And he quoted President Biden on why there’s no excuse for school lockdowns: “The science is clear, and overwhelming. We know how to keep our kids safe from COVID-19 in school. K through 12 schools should be open.”
Will Joe Choose the Children Over His Teachers Union Allies?
Teachers’ unions are some of the Democratic Party’s biggest donors. Who is Biden more loyal to, the unions or the children? WSJ concludes:
As for Mr. Biden, whose side is he on? The students whom he says will be safe in class according to all of the science? Or the unions who backed him politically but are doing terrible harm to America’s school children, including 330,000 of them in Chicago this week?
How about leading for a change, Mr. President?
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