Dear Teachers Unions: Parents Are Not the Enemy

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Dear Teachers Unions:

We parents are not the enemy.

Your jobs only exist because we exist, because our children exist. We are your employers by virtue of the taxes we pay and the “business” we provide to you. When we complain that a year — a full year…AN ENTIRE YEAR — is far too long for our children to be denied access to their classrooms — we aren’t complaining because we’re sick of our children. We are complaining because we love our children and we are devastated as we watch them sink into depression, listlessness, and anxiety.

We understand that this pandemic was sudden and unpredictable. We understand that tough decisions had to be made when no one was really sure what was going on and who would be affected by this virus. We understand because we had to make those tough decisions ourselves. Teachers are not the only people in America who have had to weigh the health risks of physically returning to work, but they are the only people in America who are currently afforded the publicly expensive luxury of not physically returning to work while still getting paid. When you insult us for demanding you get back to the classroom after a year away, please remember that we’re at work. You are not.

And also remember that while we’re at work, many of our young children are home alone. The way some unions have framed the discontentment of parents as “rich, privileged white folks who want their babysitters back” is beyond reprehensible. Rich people aren’t looking for babysitters. They’re doing just fine. They have their children in private schools and micro-schools; they’re homeschooling; they’re hiring nannies and tutors.

Probably like most of you are.

The absolute asinine arrogance it takes to suggest that only rich people want their children to return to school is astounding. Are we to believe that the only justice for minority students is to …*checks notes*… leave them at home alone and unsupervised in front of a computer screen all day while their parents leave home so they can pay the rent? Do you seriously expect us to believe that a Black single parent working a low-wage job is celebrating having to leave his 7-year-old at home alone every single day as “justice”? Do you seriously think that man is cheering you on? Do you think of him as a privileged snob looking for babysitting?

In the beginning of the pandemic, we parents supported teachers whole-heartedly. What a wretched way to end (and begin) a school year. You had to learn an entirely new way to teach and the accompanying technology in mere days and weeks. It was no small task and we thanked you and praised you profusely. We may not have all agreed on the details of how to handle the closures but we all agreed that we were “all in this together.”

The favor has never been returned. As it turns out, we were never in this together. While you guys got to stay home and practice your interpretive dancing skills, the rest of us had to head back to work and life, because unlike you, we don’t get paid for not showing up. This might be tolerable if you weren’t the same the people who have been screaming at us for years that homeschooling is dangerous for children and their social development; the very same people who think parents should not be allowed to choose alternative education options for their kids because public schools are where children learn proper social development. This is not true, of course, but this is how you’ve framed it to millions of parents who have learned to accept it as gospel truth.

You can’t just turn around and call those parents selfish idiots because they worry about what’s happening to their children by not participating in the system you set up and promoted as a necessity for them.

The deepest and most painful cut, however, is knowing that even as you claim going back to school is risking your lives, many of you are sending your own children to private schools that are open.

You’re not on our side. You’ve never said so much as “thank you” to the parents who supported you in the beginning of this mess and who have sacrificed greatly both mentally and financially to accommodate your selfishness.

I’m not sure who these protest videos you keep making are for. I guess just each other. No parent who has been watching their child languish in front of a computer for a year is really going to take such self-indulgent pleas seriously, particularly as you continue to insult parents and accuse them of the most vile things.

We tried to be on your side and you treated us like your enemies. Even worse, you have treated our children as your enemies. You treat them as though they are dangerous. If you think those subtle messages don’t permeate their psyche then I question your capabilities as educators because you of all people should know better.

Go back to school or quit your job.

Or at the very least — the very least — apologize to the parents you supposedly serve for your incredibly rude conduct over the last few weeks and months.

Signed,

Every parent in America who is out completely out of patience

P.S. – If you’d rather hear from one of your own, check out this open letter from Contributing Editor and public school teacher Joe Cunningham. Maybe you’ll respect him more than the people you serve.

Click here to read the full article.

I find myself at times rooting against some of you who advocate sickouts or strikes, who call for schools to close down fully and stay closed. There is no reason for school districts to be closed right now, much less for the 2021-2022 school year to be in question. I’m sorry, but I can’t support these actions. Because while this year has been mentally, emotionally, and, yes, physically draining on me, it has been ten times worse for the students who would be under our care in normal times.

Keeping schools closed, keeping students out of schools full time, only serves to weaken them academically and emotionally. They need human contact outside of their homes, and they need the social reinforcement that school provides. They also need the knowledge we are supposed to give them. I don’t care how good you are in the classroom and preparing online lessons, students can’t learn the skills they need if they are, at best, at school every other day. Worst case, they are at home falling behind and isolated…

…I realize that this is not going to be a popular opinion among most of you because this has been the most emotionally-taxing year we’ve been through. But we have to be strong. For the students. They are why we’re here.