We should all be wary of Stephen Moore’s political expertise. In his January 12 article, “Save the Kids by Fired Teachers Unions,” he fools the unwary by stating specific truths in the absence of any important context and nuanced analysis. It assembles a damning narrative by disengaging itself from any obligation to impart the critical information needed to complete an accurate picture of the situation.
Moore bolsters his main point with a statement from President Joe Biden saying, “He (POTUS) correctly said there is no health reason to close schools.” Yes, he said that, but when was it exactly? Was it spring or fall 2021 when community spread was very low? It certainly hasn’t happened recently.
Moore doubles down on this basic idea that desperately needs context in one paragraph, stating, “There is no health or safety excuse for teachers and students not being in the classroom.” Moore is telling a blatant lie or being unforgivably stupid about it. He is not a master of deception or a source of knowledge. He could possibly be considered criminally negligent for his misappropriation of President Biden’s statement because the statement was made at a time of relative safety. We know the community spread of COVID-19 is particularly strong and dangerous this winter, and many schools that have resumed classroom instruction have already transitioned to remote learning.
Why were public schools in Chicago closed? Regarding this issue, Moore conveniently forgets to inform the reader that it was Mayor Lightfoot and the CPS Schools administration who decided to rescind any instruction. The Chicago teachers’ union did not “hold the kids hostage” by asking for a temporary shift to remote learning during a time of exceptionally high rates of community spread. Since the mayor and the CPS management demanded that teachers return to work in classrooms that were clearly dangerous for everyone, a strike was necessary. Moore lacks context. The current vaccination rate for students in CPS schools is globally an abysmal 25%. The rate for the 12-17 age group is about 51%, but only 12% of younger students are vaccinated at CPS schools, and community spread is currently uncommon in Chicago.
Moore’s plan is the kind you get when you don’t really think about it. Just fire all the teachers and hire new ones. His lack of knowledge and genuine concern really show here. He asks incredibly stupid questions that prove he knows next to nothing about the teaching profession, the dedicated people who work in it, or even the basics of what constitutes an emergency.
He asks, “Why doesn’t she (Mayor Lightfoot) call a state of emergency and dissolve the union to save the children from the terrorists?” Or don’t tear up the contract because the unions violated it? First, the teachers did not breach their contract. It was Chicago Public Schools leaders and Mayor Lightfoot who decided to cancel all instruction, not the teachers, not the union. Mayor Lightfoot and CPS leaders acted politically to portray themselves as outspoken and tough-minded to Chicago parents.
Moore’s real agenda is hidden in plain sight. He is a senior fellow at Freedomworks and he openly complains that teachers and teachers’ unions tend to support Democrats and not Republicans. It’s true. Republicans don’t support teachers, so most teachers don’t support Republicans. This is how political power works and everyone knows it. So what can he do?
Moore’s tactic is to blame teachers and their unions for all the angst and frustrations created by the pandemic. Here’s a news flash: teachers also hate the pandemic, and they are very aware that the health and well-being of our children is at stake. Teachers will be happy to permanently resume teaching in the classroom whenever we eventually defeat COVID-19 or achieve herd immunity. At the moment, however, it’s crazy to expect students, teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, etc. work in clearly dangerous conditions.
We know that extremely high rates of community spread are creating dangerous conditions everywhere. This is especially true indoors in crowded venues or buses. We also know that picking great stats generated at a time when infections were low is fool’s gold. Please get vaccinated!
Steven Pearson of Bakersfield grew up in the Kern River Valley. He is a retired teacher who enjoys reading, writing and pickleball.