End Blind Loyalty to Teachers' Unions and Get Kids Back in School | Opinion

"There's no one who wants to be back in the classroom more than we do," a variety of teachers' union presidents, spokespeople and educators tell the public—while refusing to go back into the classroom despite mountains of data showing it's safe to go back to in-person learning.

Teachers' unions have abused and squandered decades of public goodwill. They get away with it because they think parents will turn a blind eye. Parents should not allow it.

Drama has unfolded across the country for months as undoubtedly progressive politicians—from Chicago's Lori Lightfoot and San Francisco's London Breed to Washington state's Jay Inslee and California governor Gavin Newsom—call out recalcitrant unions for their unwillingness to follow the science.

Unfortunately, unions feel empowered by their unshakeable ally President Joe Biden.

Biden was quick to kill thousands of union jobs by stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, yet he's unwilling to cross teachers. He's backing unions despite having promised to strictly adhere to science-backed COVID decisions. I'm sure the fact that the unions donated more to his campaign than to any other 2020 candidate plays no role in Biden's strong public backing.

The Biden administration even claimed, laughably, that CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was speaking in her "personal capacity" when noting it's safe to return to the classroom without a vaccine. "Personal capacity?" The comments were made at a Coronavirus Task Force briefing with reporters.

The unions' posture is hurting kids. They need to return to the classroom.

For too long, teachers' unions have used parents' goodwill towards educators as a way to negotiate better contracts. And parents have been willing participants. There's little doubt that good teachers offer tremendous value to society, arming young people with the knowledge necessary to live productive lives. Plus, many parents struggle raising one or two kids; they can sympathize with the difficulties of handling an entire classroom.

But parents should always choose the well being of their children over the wishes of a teacher—especially when teachers hold unreasonable positions.

Academically, students are being left behind. Remote learning doesn't work for large numbers of kids who need structured, in-person learning. Without it, too many have failed classes at alarmingly high rates.

More importantly, children and young adults are going through significant mental health challenges. Thanks to the stresses of a pandemic and a year removed from regular connections with their friends, not to mention competitive sports and other activities, youth suicide rates and mental health emergencies have surged nationwide. Parents see the crisis first hand and they know a return to school will help.

Rochelle Walensky
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. With the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to ravage the country with daily records for infections and deaths, members of Biden's health team said they will make fighting COVID-19 the priority. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

But parents also know better than to replace one crisis with another—sending kids to what could be super-spreader events. Like so many others eager to get life back to normal, parents are doing their research. It's not hard. Experts have been eager to share data showing that school is safe. That's why more parents are finally turning on unions.

The data are so overwhelming, politicians who normally kowtow to the every demand of unions suddenly find themselves growing a backbone and pushing back aggressively.

Teachers' unions are feeling the pressure and getting defensive. In Washington state, where I live, they have employed different strategies to keep remote learning in place. It's growing tiresome.

In Puyallup, south of Seattle, the teachers' union president tried guilt, with ominous declarations that students and teachers would quite literally die if they returned to the classroom.

"Which student and which staff do we want to lose?" she told a local TV station dramatically.

In the central Washington city of Pasco, the teacher's union president appealed to parental wokeness, arguing the push to reopen schools is an example of white supremacy. He even slammed parents concerned with the mental health of their children.

"[Parents] complain their children are suicidal without school or sports," the union president explained. "As a father, daily surviving the suicide of my son, I find these statements ignorant and another expression of white privilege."

Union goals include jumping the line to get their teachers vaccinated. Washington Education Association president Larry Delaney even questioned the CDC director's claim that a vaccine isn't necessary before reopening schools. A high school math teacher may know more than the CDC director?

They needn't look to the CDC for guidance. They can turn to a recent pilot program in Pierce County, Washington, where nearly 10,000 students, staff and even parents took rapid antigen tests as part of three districts' reopening plans. Only 0.2 percent of those tested came back positive and there were no outbreaks.

With these data, demanding that a healthy 33-year-old second grade teacher get a vaccine when we're struggling to reach 80-year-old grandmothers is outrageous. Unions know this; they'll say teachers can wait until it's their turn, which would further delay school reopening by several months.

Pressure on the unions is growing. But it needs to be amplified with the help of parents who feel uncomfortable calling out teachers. They must join the movement. They should ignore that inner voice convincing them that criticism of a union position is somehow an attack on the profession of teaching itself. It is not. Indeed, many teachers want to return to the classroom.

Pushing teachers to return to the classroom isn't an attack on teachers, but a defense of your child. Defending your son or daughter should be more important than defending a teachers' union.

Jason Rantz is a frequent guest on Fox News and is the host of the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH Seattle, heard weekday afternoons. You can subscribe to his podcast here and follow him on Twitter: @jasonrantz.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.