Rush to Reopening Schools too Soon Could Lead to Teacher Strikes

Labor News

Reprinted from The Daily Kos by Laura Clawson on July 25, 2020.

Reopening schools is a major workers’ issue in multiple ways. There are the workers inside schools: not just teachers but paraprofessionals, librarians, custodial workers, nurses. Their lives are at stake in the push to reopen schools without regard for safety. Then there are the parents whose ability to work rests in part on their kids not being at home, needing them every three minutes. And, of course, schools prepare children for many of the kinds of work they may do in adulthood—and send them messages how they will be valued and treated as adult workers. Right now, every one of those groups is getting the message that they don’t matter.

On August 3, a national day of resistance is planned by Demand Safe Schools, a coalition of teachers unions, education advocates, and grassroots parents’ groups. While “safe” is a moving target these days, they are emphasizing not just safety in schools but the equitable conditions that will make all students safer at home and better supported for remote learning if that’s what happens. You can check out their list of demands below.

  • No reopening until the scientific data supports it
  • Police-free schools
  • All schools must be supported to function as community schools with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses and community/parent outreach workers
  • Safe conditions including lower class sizes, PPE, cleaning, testing, and other key protocols …

The Daily Kos 7/25

 

Billionaires Want to Reopen Schools Amid a Pandemic; They Might Unleash a Teacher Strike Wave

Reprinted from Jacobin by Eric Blanc on July 26, 2020.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a revealing editorial titled “The Case for Reopening Schools.” In it, the editorial board reiterates the most common arguments in favor of immediately returning students and educators to the classroom this fall. But they also make clear that when and how to reopen schools reflects a fundamental conflict between educators and working people, on the one hand, and billionaires on the other.

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To be sure, the official mouthpiece of big business is savvy enough to frame school reopening as beneficial to the average American, not just the ruling rich. The WSJ points to the very real damage of remote learning, arguing for instance that “[y]ou don’t need a degree in child psychology to know kids have struggled with virtual education.” And working-class families, the editorial correctly notes, suffer from shuttered schools more than those who are richer (and, I would add, whiter).

Teachers want to return to their classrooms. But any serious assessment of the relative costs of keeping schools closed must also honestly grapple with the health risks posed by opening them up amid a raging pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the editorial entirely fails on this score. …

Jacobin 7/26

About Jeffrey Burman 37 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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