Teachers’ Unions Offering Master Class in Pandemic Politics

TThere are certain and fairly reasonable priorities teachers have as they make their way back, or partially-back, to the classroom, such as sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), or adequate space to meet social distancing needs. Then, there are the crassly political and unreasonable demands being made by some teachers’ unions, including universal health care and “direct income support” for illegal aliens.

In a stinging rebuke of the North Carolina’s “school re-open” plan, the Durham Association of Educators (DAE) released a statement laced with political buzzwords, accusations against state and federal politicians. In reality, it was more a cover to justify their outrageous demands by pointing to the death of a child from COVID-19.

The statement contends the curve in COVID-19 cases has not been flattened and that “[President] Trump, [Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos, and [N.C. Senate leader Phil] Berger want schools to open because they care about protecting wealth and big business.”

Instead, DAE argues that to flatten the curve the “concrete policies” that should be adopted are “moratoriums on rent and mortgage, universal health care, direct income support regardless of immigration status.” So, how do these political demands dressed up as public health concerns connect to the tragic death of Aurea Soto Morales, who contracted the virus from her parents?

According to DAE President Michelle Burton, Morales’ parents both had to work and did not have insurance because they are illegal aliens, saying, “If I have a child who comes to school sick, and they’re in the classroom, it affects everyone in the building.”

Morales’ family told a local CBS News affiliate that they wanted people to be aware younger people can get the virus, wanted businesses to take measures to limit crowds, and individuals to wear masks. “Every little thing they do may save lives,” Jennifer Morales, the girl’s sister, implored. Unlike the DAE, Morales’ family recognize that policies regarding wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing will help to save real lives.

Politicized blather from the teachers’ unions sadly did not just begin with the arrival of the global pandemic. For several years, Durham has labeled itself a “welcoming city” and in 2016, the DAE passed a resolution opposing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions and “the deportation of Durham Public Schools students.”

Political posturing on illegal immigration in Durham is not unique to the DAE. The following year, Durham’s Public Schools Board of Education approved requests from the DAE to revise school policy regarding speaking with illegal alien students and to strengthen privacy protections. For example, a school superintendent must tell the school board if ICE requests to speak with a student. And this year, the city’s mayor suggested people donate their COVID-19 stimulus checks to illegal aliens who were barred by the CARES Act from receiving them.

Nor are Durham-area education groups alone in turning their focus away from meeting the needs of individual families to the larger cause of left-wing politics. For example, the North Carolina Association of Educators is also circulating a petition demanding “appropriate decision-making bodies” meet with public school employees to discuss, among other things, “racial and economic justice.”

In March, the National Education Association (NEA) issued its “requests” for items to be included in the second COVID-19 relief package. Not only does the NEA want American taxpayers to fund Medicaid state options covering illegal aliens, they want the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE and Customs and Border Patrol to suspend all immigration enforcement activities in and around hospitals and urge DHS and ICE to end all immigrant enforcement activities immediately.

There are plenty of difficult issues to overcome before children are back in the classroom, so maybe the unions should focus on addressing those and leave the political issues for after the pandemic.

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