It’s time we realize we are not “in this together.” Yes, we’ve heard that from Hollywood videos and Super Bowl ads, and from politicians and commercials, but unfortunately it just ain’t so.
When President Joe Biden made a rare public appearance for a CNN town hall in February, for example, Justin Belot, a teacher in his mid-30s, asked, “Why is it OK” to make him and his colleague go back to their classrooms and do their jobs?
Why should teachers have to work, the young man asked, when subjected to “large class sizes and outdated ventilation systems”? Should “all staff,” he wondered, be vaccinated before they were subjected to this treatment?
Don’t worry, the president soothed: Classes will be small, and the government will make sure you’re all protected from COVID-19. “Teachers and the folks who work in the school, the cafeteria worker and others,” he explained, “should be on the list of preferred to get a vaccination.”
Smart answer; threads the needle and all. If you’re, say, a bartender, however, or a hotel maid or desk clerk, or a bus or subway driver, a gas station attendant, a grocery store employee, a waiter or manager, a deliveryman, a farmer or rancher, a factory worker, carpenter, butcher, trucker, pilot, priest, police officer, EMT, cab driver, electrician, store clerk, barista, mechanic, plumber, stewardess, security guard, chef, or bank teller, you might be wondering why you’re at work.
You probably haven’t gotten a vaccine, and if you have it very likely wasn’t by virtue of having returned to work months ago or maybe never even being able to break from your job at all. Nobody promised you new ventilation systems. The president didn’t coo sweet nothings into your ear when you were scared, and you might even be 65 or older, meaning there’s an actual reason for you to be cautious.
The reason for the discrepancy, of course, is that despite what we’ve heard from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Wells Fargo, and the cast of “High School Musical,” we are not “in this together.” We are very much separated from each other, masked up, suspicious, angry, and atomized to the point that some of us still can’t see our sick or aging family. In the pecking order of who will be taken care of first, most of us are far behind the politically favored and well-connected.
A number of those who aren’t “in this” with you — the speaker of the House, the mayor of Austin, and the entire cast of “Saturday Night Live,” for example — have been thoroughly exposed, but for some reason we all feel the need to continue to tiptoe around one of the most awful, lazy, and selfish groups in America: left-wing public teachers unions and the teachers who support them.
I know there are states across the country where public school teachers have gone back to work just like the rest of us. I know there are public school teachers who want to go back to work and teach kids in person, and who are heartbroken over the damage their colleagues are inflicting on America’s children. But there are tens of thousands of teachers singing a very different song, and theirs is by far the loudest.
These are teachers like the one in Los Angeles who warned colleagues not to post their “spring break” vacation pictures, pointing out it’s “hard to argue that it is unsafe for in-person instruction, if parents and the public see vacation photos and international travel.” Or the one in Los Angeles who sent an email to a mother who criticized the union, asking what her race is.
Just a week ago, California politicians agreed to pay a $6.6 billion ransom just for the unions to agree to teach again, on top of all the federal funds.
These are teachers like the ones in Montgomery County, Md., who held a parade to protest returning to schools. “You will not sacrifice our lives, disrupt our communities, and endanger our students,” teacher Jeremy Levine declared. “For what? Test scores? Or a few folks to get their free babysitters back?”
“Keep the schools shut!” he preached to the parading cars decorated with children’s art.
These are teachers like Matt Meyer in Berkeley, Calif., who was caught on tape dropping his kid off for childcare while heading a union that has called dropping kids off at school unsafe. Meyer said the video is a “super inappropriate” violation of his privacy. Meyer is also a white guy with dreadlocks.
These are teachers like the ones in Chicago who demanded new ventilation systems, air-quality training, free rent, and something called “Counselors not Cops” when “negotiating” a return to work.
They are teachers like the ones lobbying Democrats to take money set aside to bring internet to poorer school districts, and reroute it to pay for teachers not having to go back to school.
Teachers all over the country demanded they get the vaccination first, despite an average and median age more than 20 years younger than the at-risk groups, and still refused to return when politicians agreed, moving the goalpost to all children despite no vaccine yet proven child-safe.
None of this is about children, be it their education, safety, or mental health. We’ve known for a while now that COVID isn’t a risk to kids’ health, but being out of the classroom sure is. There’s no denying how much the next generation has suffered while the people we charge with their educations expose just how little they care about those same children.
“When the pandemic started,” Levine told his parading colleagues, “teachers were praised and honored….now, they are being villainized for trying to keep their communities safe.”
“Enough is enough,” he said, and he’s right. Enough from the teachers, enough from the unions, and enough from the Democratic politicians and school boards covering for the pain they’re shamelessly inflicting. Enough pretending COVID is the problem when we all know those public school teachers — the ones who refuse to go back to work — are the problem.
And enough of “we are in this together.” We all know we aren’t.