Schools Still Closed in California, Blame the Unions

Schools Still Closed in California, Blame the Unions
Rich Pedroncelli

Last week, the California Teachers Association (CTA) launched a tone-deaf advertising blitz defending its position on school re-openings. The cable package, which according to reports cost CTA more than $93,000 of dues money, features a 30-second ad reminding the public that COVID-19 is still real and very, very scary.

The commercial went over about as well as you would expect. Falling back on CTA’s favorite lie, “We want to re-open too,” the video tells the story about how we all want the same thing — it’s just impossible to have.

It’s not impossible because the governor isn’t allowing them to re-open — he’s finally saying they should.

It’s not the CDC, either. It’s also saying schools can be re-opened with safety measures in place.

Finally, could it be President Joe Biden? No, he’s (kinda, sorta) committed to having schools open five days a week for in-person instruction within his first 100 days.

So, if it isn’t the CDC, the governor of California, or the president of the United States, who exactly is stopping schools from re-opening?

Oh yeah, it’s the teacher’s unions. For all the union leaders’ nonsense about wanting to re-open schools “safely,” they’ve made it clear it isn’t the potential risk to the students’ health they’re concerned about.

It’s the risk of squandering all the bargaining leverage they currently wield — without the messy business of striking.

Even when asked if vaccinating all teachers and support staff would make school safe enough, teachers’ unions still wouldn’t commit.

Who do they think they’re fooling?

You, apparently.

As Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) recently said, the “GOP tries to weaponize pandemic-exhausted parents against Biden,” when she should have said, “We’ve backed ourselves into a corner and we can’t come out.”

Parents who’ve had their children out of schools for the past year aren’t pandemic-exhausted; they’re sick and tired of a special interest group having far too much sway over important facets of their lives, such as our children’s education.

Look no further than the comments of the CTA advertisement trying to convince the public that they know best. With 94 dislikes and a measly 12 likes, we can already tell that this message didn’t go over well.

Of the 29 comments on the video, not even one is in favor of the message.

“Parents do NOT agree with you!”

– Cynthia Sanchez

“You should be ashamed. We follow science. You apparently don’t care about facts OR kids.”

 – Melanie Ropelato

“Many schools in CA that don’t have teachers in your union have already safely reopened: private schools, public schools in various districts, catholic and religious schools, also schools in other states and other countries. Not to mention day cares, childcare centers, etc…. our county even says it’s safe to fully reopen now! Enough is enough! You, teacher’s union, are SHAMELESS!”

Beatris Khodadadi


There are many more, but you get the point. While it’s great fun to laugh at the tone-deaf marketing team that put this video together, it’s really not that funny. Children are suffering, and not just because they’re being left behind educationally.

The real cost of school closures isn’t simply the months of education those kids will never get back; there’s a very real human cost to all this, as well. For example:

  • emergency rooms have seen a 24 percent increase in mental health-related visits from children ages 5 to 11 compared to last year. The increase among older kids is even higher – 31 percent; and,
  • an estimated 3 million vulnerable students — who are homeless, in foster care, have disabilities or are learning English — don’t appear to be in school at all.

What’s becoming clearer by the day is that parents are fed up, and our elected leaders need to grow a spine and do something about it.

In blue states like California, we know how much influence the teachers’ unions have been able to purchase and we know it’s an uphill fight.

Ultimately, schools will re-open when parents organize and demand that they do. Groups like the CTA may have purchased a lot of lawmakers, but elected leaders were put into office by voters. Before too long, those elected leaders will have to reckon with what they did to their constituents’ kids.

Sam Coleman is the California Outreach Director at the Freedom Foundation, a national nonprofit with the mission to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.

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