Friday, August 7, 2020

It’s Time to Fund Learning, Not Schools

There’s a lot riding on whether the nation’s children go back to school in the fall. The restoration of the economy. The ability of many parents to return to work. The safety and continued education of our kids. All of that, one way or another, is contingent on the return to things as they were before COVID hit. 

The science says it’s safe if reasonable precautions are taken. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics are, to one degree or another on board. Keeping kids out of school might be more harmful, say the experts, than letting them attend.

Leading the fight against the return to normalcy is the usual cast of characters, many of whom oppose a normal school year because President Donald J. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos want it. That’s a reflexive response, hardly meaningful as these are the same people who’d probably try to give up breathing if Trump said it was good for you.

Teachers and their unions are also resisting. You would have thought they’d be anxious to get back to work, especially since the science shows it is in the best interest of the children. But no, they’re on the frontlines arguing against any proposal that doesn’t at least cut back on the time that will be spent in the public-school classroom.

Some are going further. In Washington, D.C., where bad decisions by local politicians have caused the novel coronavirus to hit especially hard, public school teachers this week briefly lined up “body bags” outside the city’s administrative offices to pressure Mayor Muriel Bowser to keep the government-run schools closed.  

It’s not in the kids’ best interests to do that. Yet the teachers’ unions who are the first to proclaim they are the guardians of that sacred trust anytime something like a tax increase to fund education comes up are leading the charge to keep schools closed and more. A coalition of unions, including those representing teachers in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, St. Paul, Milwaukee, Racine, Little Rock, and Oakland has assembled a list of demands that is at best self-serving and, as they say, “non-negotiable.”

They won’t come back to work, they say, “until the scientific data supports it.” Which it does, even if they won’t acknowledge it. Also on the list is “police free schools,” a “moratorium on new charter or voucher programs and standardized testing,” a “massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening funded by taxing billionaires and Wall Street,” “Support for our communities and families, including (a) moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed, and other critical social needs,” and “All schools must be supported to function as community schools with adequate numbers of counselors and nurses and community/parent outreach workers.”

There may be a couple more, but you should understand their intent by now. The unions representing these teachers want to bring an end to any chance students might have, especially those in the inner cities, to a better education leading to a better quality of life than they knew growing up by putting an end to accountability and an end to the competition posed by charter schools.

We shouldn’t be funding these people with our tax dollars. We should be doing education differently, starting with what we pay for. We should be funding learning instead of schools and children instead of teachers. What we’re doing now doesn’t work unless you’re a politician who backs things as they are because you get political support for doing so.

Thomas Sowell, the great economist and public intellectual who has long been a leader in the fight for education reform once said, “Propagandists in the classroom are a luxury that the poor can afford least of all. While a mastery of mathematics and English can be a ticket out of poverty, a highly cultivated sense of grievance and resentment is not.” Yet that’s what we’re seeing in the demands the teachers’ unions and their coalition partners are making before they’re willing to let the schools reopen. They’re showing us they’re not in it for the kids as they claim. They’re in it for themselves and they’ve finally, because of the COVID crisis, exposed themselves for what they are.

READ NEXT: The Social Justice Warriors Tearing Statues Down Should Stand up for What Matters Instead >>

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Peter Roff
Peter Roff
Peter Roff is affiliated with several Washington, D.C. public policy organizations and is a former U.S. News and World Report contributing editor who appears regularly as a commentator on the One America News network. He can be reached by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.

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Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
7 days ago

Yes but Everyone learns differently & have to adapt system to Teach ALL
Me I learn by Visuals & hands on.
Others text etc
Merge resources
CUT lectures
Use AI
Use Video IE CG 3D for Sciences,
Hands on for Home Econ, Auto Repair
Etc etc
Expand Voc/Tech Ed STEM all schools
Innovate
Use schools as Seedbeds for ideas.
Reuse idle schools for home schoolers to acess play ground for local kids.
More can be done
Streamline ACT tests, SAT.
Merge ACT SAT
Cut school district admin bureaucracy

Joe in Texas
Joe in Texas
7 days ago

I don’t know how to “fund learning not schools”, but that is certainly the right idea. I used to teach in a 2 year college(mathematics and computer science). Every semester, I got 150 shining new faces that could not do simple arithmetic and could not write a proper sentence with a verb and a period at the end. Never mind writing a decent paragraph. Instead of howling about “systemic racism”, the down and out should be howling about useless schooling, dumbed down classes, and social promotion. The “lower classes” are that way because they refuse to value education and hard work over welfare, drugs, and the ghetto.

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