Chicago, which has America’s third largest school district, has long been known for its exceptionally aggressive public teachers’ union that seems wedded to strikes. What it doesn’t seem to be wedded to is teaching. That’s especially true with the Wuhan virus.
Chicago teachers are refusing to return to classrooms, despite the educational and emotional disaster that long-distance learning is proving to be for kids. Instead, six dance teachers offered an interpretative dance explaining why they prefer to stay home and get paid for short hours and minimally effective job performance.
At the beginning of the 2019 school year, Chicago’s public school students weren’t doing so well. Forty-three percent of elementary school students couldn’t meet basic math metrics, and 37% couldn’t meet reading requirements. The problem was blamed on the students’ “socio-economic status” rather than teaching quality, but the lack of enthusiasm the teachers are showing for returning to classroom duties indicates that there’s more going on than blaming poverty or racism.
Very few teachers (thankfully) have succumbed to the Wuhan virus. It made national headlines in early October when a 58-year-old first-grade teacher in Chicago died from the virus after she visited the school to get supplies for her students. It’s unclear how the school visits infected her, given that she was doing long-distance teaching (and the fact that children do not seem to spread the virus), but the teachers’ union seized upon her death to justify refusing to return to in-person learning unless the district met a raft of demands:
Among the equity demands that could be the least agreeable for CPS are the CTU’s rejection of simultaneous teaching — in which teachers instruct students in classrooms and remotely at the same time — and a proposed reduction of remote learning screen time by one hour each day. CPS’ current plan only works with simultaneous teaching and would otherwise need a redesign.
The CTU is also demanding clear public health criteria for opening and closing schools and is proposing a 3% test positivity threshold. Schools would reopen citywide for all students and staff if the rate is lower, and would close if it’s higher, the union said, with community-by-community decisions also possible if rates vary.
Meanwhile, store clerks, restaurant workers, transportation workers, and myriad other people manage to go to work every day. Also, meanwhile, America’s students are in dire straits. Deprived of social interaction, students are suffering badly, and suicide is on the rise. Indeed, the number of student suicides in Las Vegas was so bad that the school system finally, reluctantly, reopened.
But in Chicago, many of the teachers just don’t want to go back, and to heck with the students. In mid-January, some schools serving preschoolers and special needs students did begin reopening after 300 days without in-person teaching only to have a single COVID-positive employee send many of the teachers into a panic. (Note, please, that students could not have infected the employee.) When 150 teachers still refused to appear, the district played hardball and withheld pay and access to their Google Classroom accounts.
Over this past weekend, thousands of Chicago public school teachers absolutely refused to return to the classroom on Monday, January 25, with 71% of them approving the union leadership’s plan to maintain only distance learning. And this is where we get to a video so appalling that it should receive an eye bleach rating of 10.
According to the “ChicagoTeachersUnion” Twitter account, six “rank-and-file dance teachers came together to use their art form as a voice to express their desire to feel safe amidst CPS’ [sic] teacher return policy.” The statement was big, bigger than their just wanting to stay home and collect paychecks without having to do any more classroom teaching: “They stand in solidarity with all educations at risk because no one should have to choose between life and livelihood.”
And with that pronouncement, the six teachers engaged in the worst, most laughable, most cringe-worthy, most embarrassing, most lacking in self-awareness, most narcissistic effort ever, by any teachers trying to collect a paycheck while not working:
Six of our rank-and-file dance teachers come together to use their art form as a voice to express their desire to feel safe amidst CPS’ teacher return policy. They stand in solidarity with all educators at risk, because no one should have to choose between life and livelihood. pic.twitter.com/gajXH9PReE
Neither Chicago nor Illinois has made noises about seceding from the Union since Biden became president. However, I would like to nominate the Chicago Teachers’ Union for immediate secession and relocation to a remote island outpost where they can no longer inflict harm on the young people whose parents blindly and naively trusted these teachers.
As Glenn Reynolds is wont to say, nowadays, public education is tantamount to child abuse.
Image: Chicago teachers’ interpretative dance. Twitter screen grab.
This content was originally published here.