Teacher unions are holding America's students hostage

Teacher unions are holding America's students hostage
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According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, 360 Americans under the age of 24 have died from COVID-19, as of September 2. In total, there are 103,856,244 Americans under the age of 24 in the United States.

This means that the odds of an American under the age of 24 dying from COVID-19 is infinitesimally miniscule. In fact, an individual under the age of 24 is much more likely to die from a lightning strike than from COVID-19.

This begs a simple question: Why are the overwhelming majority of schools in the United States closed if students are practically invulnerable to COVID-19?

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Well, here is one educated guess: Because teacher unions (and their political allies) are holding America’s students hostage in a devil’s bargain for more money and power.

On July 24, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten said, “Let’s stop the debate about whether safety matters and start rolling up our sleeves so we get the resources to meet the needs of students, whether we are teaching remotely or in person.”

When referring to “resources,” Weingarten seems to mean more money and political favors, of course.

Unlike Weingarten’s statement, which requires some reading between the lines, many teacher unions are much more explicit with their outrageous demands, which have nothing to do with protecting teachers or students.

For example, the Los Angeles Teachers Union (LATU) list of demands includes “implementing a moratorium on private schools, defunding the police, increasing taxes on the wealthy, implementing Medicare for all, and passing the HEROES Act, which allocated an additional $116 billion in federal education funding to the states.”

Give the LATU some brownie points for honesty, at least.

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Like it or not, America’s teachers are essential workers. Grocery store clerks, gas station attendants and a whole host of other “essential workers” have braved the pandemic. Why shouldn’t teachers do the same?

It is downright pitiful that America’s teachers are flat-out refusing to do their jobs unless they are showered with more “resources,” as Weingarten put it.

Yet, it is doubtful that the teacher unions’ dereliction of duty would work if it were not for their cozy relationships with politicians on the left side of the political aisle, who constantly fulfill their demands.

For decades, the Democratic Party and teacher unions have engaged in a corrupt relationship in which teacher unions flood the party with so-called “resources” in return for salary increases, spectacular health care benefits and remarkable retirement packages.

Yet, it seems as if the teacher unions might have jumped the shark this time. As Americans look to get back to some semblance of normalcy after the spring and summer shutdown, the last thing they need is teachers refusing to return to the classroom.

On the other hand, the refusal of teacher unions to allow their members to perform their jobs might also be the very best thing to happen to the American education system in quite a long time.

It would be ironic if teacher unions’ outrageous demands during the pandemic actually led to their downfall by making American parents aware of the fact that teacher unions are not concerned with the best interests of their students.

Could the greed of teacher unions at this precarious point in time be the kryptonite that causes their downfall and opens the door to unfettered school choice in America? If so, that would be a silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.