Teacher unions are the reason more parents want school choice
In August 2021, after area schools had been closed for at least a year, United Teachers Los Angeles Director Cecily Myart-Cruz sadly spoke about the unique learning experience school closures had provided to Los Angeles students.
“There is no learning loss” she said Los Angeles magazine. “It’s okay that our babies haven’t learned all their multiplication tables. They learned resilience. They learned about survival. They learned critical thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a demonstration. They know the words insurrection and cut.”
The parents also received an education. Shortly after, the LA United School District reported a loss of more than 27,000 students in enrollment in the 2020-21 school year, compounding a slow decline over the decades.
“The pace of decline has accelerated since the pandemic, a phenomenon that officials have struggled to explain,” The Los Angeles Times reported at the time.
It’s laughable. Let me explain to you.
Los Angeles and the other major liberal urban and suburban areas of the country, in alliance with the teachers‘ unions, perpetrated this Atlantic recently called “the greatest disruption in the history of American education”.
The parents understood who was responsible. When major teachers’ unions and public schools acted as if public education wasn’t essential, many parents took them at their word and found education elsewhere.
A 2021 Census Bureau survey showed that the number of homeschoolers rose from 3% of U.S. students in spring 2020 to 11% in 2021, with gains across all ethnic groups. Black parents, in particular, chose homeschooling more often, with the proportion of homeschoolers in this demographic increasing fivefold.
Many parents who have been able to find (and afford) a place for their children in private schools that have remained open during the pandemic have done just that. (There’s something about the certainty of a five-day school week that parents and students have come to expect.)
More than 60% of private schools were open for in-person instruction in fall 2020, while only 24% of public schools were, according to a winter 2020 Education Next survey. National school associations Catholics and Independents reported enrollment booms in 2022.
No national emergency has ever had such a profound and widespread impact on the education of American children, not the Great Depression, the World Wars or 9/11. It’s hard to find anything that comes close to comparable disruption, but a Brookings Institution study found that learning loss from pandemic shutdowns was far worse than that caused by Hurricane Katrina for college students. New Orleans.
School leaders who authorized extended closures are now trying to cover up their failures with billions of dollars in Biden administration funding, coupled with promises of tutoring solutions and mental health support. But when it comes to losing students and losing their confidence, they reap what they sow. Many parents learned for the first time in 2020 what it is like to be trapped in a failing public school. They also learned that some leaders who they believed prioritized their children’s education were not.
“When major teachers’ unions and public schools acted as if public education wasn’t essential, many parents took them at their word and found education elsewhere.”
Enter school choice, a political issue that is also reaping what unions have sown during COVID-19. Long the bogeyman of teachers’ unions, school choice programs allow parents to use some of the taxpayer dollars they pay for public school to pay for educational alternatives instead, qu be it parochial schools, private STEM academies or traditional home school programs.
An Arizona law signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in July is the most sweeping in the nation, allowing each public school-eligible student up to $6,500 toward private school tuition, programs online or tutors. This law, which will likely serve as model legislation for other red states, as well as a recent Supreme Court decision that paves the way for the use of school choice money in religious schools ( as well as secular) are poised to open new frontiers for the school choice movement across the country.
The unions’ dire warnings against school choice are backed by a handful of arguments and a well of trust they’ve worked overtime to undermine for two years.
The idea that Republicans want “weak public schools” or “complete destabilization” falls flat coming from American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, whose drive for year-long closures has done more to weaken and destabilize public schools than anything in my life.
The idea that Democrats and their teachers’ union allies are more trustworthy on education has taken a similar hit, with the Democratic Party slipping 20 percentage points ahead on the issue in the polls. It’s the first time in more than a generation that Republicans have had a better view on education. Indeed, the American Federation of Teachers found just that in its own survey of battleground states this week.
The survey, conducted by Hart Research in seven battleground states in May and provided first to NBC News, found Republicans had a 39% to 38% advantage over the party voters trust most. education.”
A large number of respondents in these states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) also said that schools spent too much time teaching gender identity (43%), classified as “basic skills in reading, math and science. as their top priority (58%), placed teacher unions third behind teachers and parent groups in terms of trust, and perhaps the most problematic for Weingartens around the world, were most likely to blame Democrats than Republicans, by 5 percentage points, for politicizing education.
The poll amounts to a behind-the-scenes admission that the unions and their Democratic Party allies have lost a lot of ground on this issue because of their own actions. A public admission might be the most helpful in restoring trust, but don’t count on it.
Just this week, Governor Gavin Newsom received a national award for his work in education. In his acceptance speech, he touted the more than $150 billion California schools budget. He didn’t mention that for all that money — more than $20,000 per student — California students got the fewest in-person tuition days of any union state during the pandemic.
No wonder the parents want to take their money and run away.