Editor’s note: The Daily Signal’s audience isn’t buying the teachers union’s reasons for refusing to return to classrooms. Here’s a sampling, plus some thoughts on the new Biden administration. Write about our coverage to letters@DailySignal.com.—Ken McIntyre
Dear Daily Signal: I just read your commentary article on teachers and their unions and the continual refusal during the COVID-19 pandemic to create a better learning environment for our young children (“Teachers Unions Are Keeping Kids Out of the Classroom. School Choice Can Ensure They Learn Anyway”). This has been a sore subject for me, because I see and hear the lack of instruction being given.
OK, remote instruction is a new teaching tool, but it doesn’t take a genius or a prolonged length of time to learn how to utilize. Yeah, old habits are hard to break, but one doesn’t become a teacher and stop learning new ways to teach. A true teacher can teach his or her students no matter the circumstances.
I know what is involved in teaching activities, since I was an educator back in the 1970s. There are more activities than the hours in the school day, but that’s part of the job, and you can have a great personal life also if you create a working schedule to blend both.
The teachers unions decided that teachers need to work only a limited number of days and hours, and they have decided which activities and what hours of the day. Anything above that is going to cost the school system more money—overtime—or getting more staff.
It also doesn’t help that the unions allow teachers to get full pay for doing remote teaching without qualifying a standard of performance. Hence posting weekly assignments, no taking attendance, no follow-up with students, no instructions on how to do assignments, no consistency in grading except for a periodic acknowledged receipt, and so on.
Of course, we have well-involved teachers who have engaged their students. That is, if the students can log on correctly. And in many places that do have in-person classes, a substitute teacher is thrown in just to supervise students as they do assigned work from the regular teacher, who is sitting at home getting full pay.
Tell me what job allows someone to continue to get a full paycheck while not performing his job correctly?
My grandson’s teacher has decided to go to partial remote teaching after teaching in person from September through December. She says she needs to spend more time homeschooling her child, who had been going to in-person classes too.
The teacher’s method of teaching the class changed drastically. She went from presenting subjects and helping students learn how to think and solve problems to handing out assignments expected to be filled out by students.
And then my grandson’s teacher complained to individual students’ parents about how little of the assignments were being completed, and blamed parents for not following up with their children by reviewing assignments. She said if they were working parents, they needed to adjust their schedules to have time to do school assignments with their children.
My daughter, who felt insulted by the attempted shaming that she was a working mother, directly responded to this teacher. The teacher explained that she felt too “overwhelmed” by teaching in person and doing homeschooling, and that remote teaching involves so much time that she doesn’t have time anymore to follow up on completion of assignments. She expects the parents to do this, without telling them anything of the change.
Meanwhile, my grandson still is going to in-person school daily and is being marked absent even though he is present in the classroom. My daughter checked with the principal and those who monitor entry and exits to confirm that her son is present even though the teacher isn’t.
Now that we have a COVID-19 vaccine rollout, that fear of being infected is diminished somewhat, even though we still need to have enhanced safety precautions—washing hands, etc. This only means re-enforcing a habit that all children need to develop anyway.
The days of teachers staying home, getting paid for minimal effort, are coming to an end in 2021. Meanwhile, our children are not being educated enough and properly taught how to think for themselves.—Maria Rose Randazzo, Yonkers, N.Y.
Dear Daily Signal: Our small little school district in California, where I am a physical education specialist, is the only one I know of that is fully open with all students on campus every day. We have certainly made changes to our campus at Avery Middle School and are missing sports, assemblies, and field trips this year, but we see faces.
How is it possible that those working in a grocery store are essential, yet teachers are not? And attempting to teach virtually is so much more challenging than in person, unless the teacher doesn’t really care about being an excellent educator and doing what’s best for kids.
Our students have a far better curriculum and understanding being in class in person than online. And they actually show up to class. It’s time for teachers to show up to work or find a new job.
Our kids deserve someone who is going to stand up for them. I am grateful our district has administrators, teachers, and parents who took a stand for our kids.—Rebecca Williams, Avery, Calif.
Dear Daily Signal: The fact that the left refuses to open schools to in-person learning is the largest impediment to the next generation’s progress and wealth-building.
The most obvious example of systemic racism in this country is the Uncle Sam “plantation.” The surest ticket off the plantation is education.
Ask any successful person who has escaped, and I think you’ll find a good education was, if not the most important, among the top three most important influences on future performance.
What has (and will continue) to work is a good education and hard work. Of course, a good education is not necessarily woke.—Kathy Vanderford, Fountain Inn, S.C.
Painting the Entire Picture of Schools
Dear Daily Signal: In response to Lindsey Burke’s commentary article about teachers refusing to go back into schools (“It’s Time for a Bold, Reaganesque Approach to Teachers Unions on School Closures”), I think she doesn’t paint the entire picture of what is going on.
As a teacher, I can tell you that resources are extremely low and safety measures are cut at every level. If you know anything about schools, what they say is happening and what actually is happening are two very different things.
In my school, we have had classes in person for seven weeks intermittently. I have had to quarantine for a total of 38 days since school opened Nov. 16. Instead of asking how safe schools are, why don’t you ask about the impact on teachers’ lives?
I had to sleep on a couch for 38 nights away from my family because of positive COVID-19 cases in school. Worried if I have it and would pass it on. All for a job I can do on Zoom.
My school district has averaged 30 cases per week. Yes, not spread out, so they think, but who knows? Contact tracing in New York is completely nonexistent. Yes, Gov. Cuomo, the failure is at the government level. Nobody is getting calls.
So before you judge, do more research on the issues. If you had five cases in your office for a week, would you go into work if you could stay home?—Joe Constantinides, Connecticut
Dear Daily Signal: I believe there should be choice for students and their parents.
Over 60% of our tax dollars in Spotsylvania County are given to run our public schools. As a previous member of the Citizens Budget Review Committee, I watch every dollar.
I have tried to encourage the concept of charter schools in Spotsylvania County. Sadly, most parents are ill-informed about charter schools, and even with facts, they are not open to get involved with a charter school.
Homeschooling can be successful for families. In most cases, parents can’t give up income to stay home and teach their children. But now that schools are pretty much closed down, parents are more involved with their children’s learning. They can see what it taught, which may open some eyes.
If we wait until everyone has had a COVID-19 vaccine, we’ll be waiting for a while. And, more importantly, not everyone can receive or wants to receive the vaccine.
Some people have allergies, some people have religious beliefs about what goes into a vaccine, and some people just don’t want to be forced into taking a vaccine.
The left has declared war on our culture: experimental vaccines, mandates, studies contrary to our religious beliefs, voting irregularities that are denied. And these are just a start.
Babies are used to seeing faces, not masks. What will be the outcome of this in the years to come?
We have traded a hope for safety for our right to make our own decisions, but we are not safe. God have mercy on us all.—Jackie Williams, Spotsylvania, Va.
In Florida, teachers didn’t want to return to the classroom, but they still wanted a paycheck and health insurance. Gov. Ron DeSantis said they’d stop getting paid if they didn’t go back to teaching.—Tom Van Newkirk, Tallassee, Ala.
A New President Takes Office
Dear Daily Signal: My primary concerns are with President Biden’s beginning his term by signing off on 17 sometimes contradictory executive orders (“Biden Far Outpacing Trump on Early Executive Orders, Actions”).
As an example, we have millions of people unable to work due to the pandemic. So what does Biden do? He immediately cancels many more jobs, such as pipeline workers and wall builders.
I have managed to work only 17 out of the past 60 weeks.
I have the misfortune of living just outside Rochester, Minn., in the thriving metropolis of where the biggest store is Ace Hardware. All of the restaurants are closed except for the Subway sandwich shop.—John Handforth, Spring Valley, Minn.
We also should end the “uncivil war” that pits a mother and/or father against their very own child, pits the strong against the weak, and kills over 2,000 young Americans each day (“Biden Calls for End to ‘Uncivil War’ in Unity-Themed Inaugural Address”).
It is time to recognize that legalized abortion is also a war on women. It allows others, often for selfish reasons, to pressure a woman into undergoing the physical and psychological harm of abortion. It shows no respect for women as the bearers of our future generations, but rather encourages treatment of women as objects.
Indeed, the “harsh, ugly reality” of abortion literally tears apart the little bodies of preborn babies, annihilating our American ideals of equality and justice for all, the very ideals President Joe Biden purports to seek.
Yes, President Biden, please recognize and stop the worst “uncivil war” going on right now in America: the war against preborn babies and their mothers.—Kay Balash
Perhaps they can silence the conservative media. Perhaps they can change the Constitution. But they can’t change what goes on inside my brain.
Liberals can’t change what we are. They can try to brainwash us. They make us look like oppressors, having all these kinds of liberal attributes with which they judge people who voted for President Trump. But people can’t live on attributes alone or whatever new slogan they have concocted.
The truth eventually will win. When people feel the pain of higher prices at the pump and higher prices for everything, including food, if there is any.—Tony Urbizu, San Antonio, Fla.