WEA union president says we shouldn’t worry about how closed schools are harming children, because they are all falling behind together

By LIV FINNE  | 
Sep 9, 2020
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Last week on TVW’s respected political interview show Inside Olympia, host Austin Jenkins talked with the president of the powerful WEA teachers union, Larry Delaney. The subject was whether public schools should re-open to students this fall. The union leader said his union would not allow the vast majority of Washington’s 1.1 million students to return to the classroom due, he says, to the health crisis.

Here are the key passages:

Austin Jenkins:

“How many kids will be back in the physical classroom? How many will have only virtual learning?”

Union president Delaney:

“Five percent of our students will be back in the classroom….The vast majority will not be in school…”

Austin Jenkins:

“There are definitely parents out there who are frustrated there will not be more in-person learning. …..Why are we not seeing more in-person learning?

Union president Delaney:

“Our top priority with WEA [union] was to advocate for the health and safety of all, that is not only the educators across the state that we represent, but that is students, that’s families, that’s our communities… We are following clear guidance from the state Department of Health, the governor’s office and OSPI….

Austin Jenkins:

“I have heard some people lament that we may lose a generation of kids because of this pandemic, and because of the interruption in their education. It certainly seems arguable that we might be losing a year, or part of a year, of a child’s education. How dire is this for the future of the schoolchildren in Washington…?

Union president:

“Austin, our kids are resilient. Across the country everyone has missed certain learning. So if everyone is ‘behind,’ I guess no one is behind….”  

This statement says it all about the heartlessness of the WEA union in promoting its own agenda over the learning needs of children.  Washington school children are being hurt, but that’s ok, he says, because children in other states are being hurt too.

While schools in many other states are opening to in-person instruction, officials are keeping most schools in Washington closed. It’s the power of teachers unions, not pandemic numbers, that are driving decisions to not reopen schools. See Corey DeAngelis study.

Washington’s children lost one-third of their schooling last spring, and they may lose this whole next year of schooling. But parents are making a big deal out of nothing, says the union president.  All the children will be behind together, so we don’t need to concern ourselves with their lost opportunities. 

The caring solution in this crisis is for state officials to give parents $3,000, or more, to pay for the education of every child. Then parents would not be forced to accept the second-rate remote learning that school and union officials have cobbled together for the fall. Then parents would be able to smile, instead of scowl, at union presidents and school officials who trivialize their valid concerns over the education of their children. Then parents would have the resources they need to keep their children on track in learning until a normal, scheduled school day returns.