California’s largest Teachers’ Union, The United Teachers of Los Angeles, described the state’s latest plan to reopen schools as “a recipe for propagating structural racism.”

The proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Democrats has already been described as a “compromise.”

In the midst of the tussle, Newsom has also come under fire for his state’s strict COVID restrictions, and faces a recall effort.

According to KABC in Los Angeles, under a portion of the new plan, California school districts could receive up to $2 billion in funding if they reopen by March 31.

Districts with low enough COVID case numbers must begin in-person class for all elementary grades plus one grade each in middle school and high school. The plan also includes $4.6 billion for “academic interventions” for students who have fallen behind.

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Does New Plan Hurt Minorities?

Politico reports that UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz claimed:

“We are being unfairly targeted by people who are not experiencing this disease in the same ways as students and families are in our communities.

If this was a rich person’s disease, we would’ve seen a very different response. We would not have the high rate of infections and deaths. Now educators are asked instead to sacrifice themselves, the safety of our students, and the safety of our schools.”

The goal of the proposed plan is to get younger students back to class by April 1, while district superintendent Austin Beutner would like to see elementary schools open by April 9. UTLA has not agreed to the date and says that it is subject to labor talks.

UTLA demands that staff must be vaccinated and proper “safety measures” put in place before they will agree to return to work. 

Myart-Cruz claims that tying funding to re-opening schools is racist:

“If you condition funding on the reopening of schools, that money will only go to white and wealthier and healthier school communities that do not have the transmission rates that low-income Black and brown communities do. This is a recipe for propagating structural racism and it is deeply unfair to the students we serve.”

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Newsom Getting Hit From Both Sides

There is no doubt, Governor Gavin Newsom has a lot on his plate. Namely, the possibility that he will face a recall election.

In a report from The Hill, Newsom says he wants kids back in the classroom, but the very powerful teachers’ unions are not being cooperative.

They do not accept CDC recommendations, and are demanding vaccinations before going back to work, a task that may very well take until the end of the school year.

With a possible recall hanging over his head, one of Gavin Newsom’s top priorities is to get California’s schools reopened. Any efforts to beat back a recall will be much easier if he has managed to get teachers’ unions to go along with a plan to reopen schools.

Robin Swanson, a Democrat political consultant, put it very plainly: “Parents want to know when their kids can go back to school safely.” She added that safeguards such as vaccines for teachers and personal protective equipment are important to many parents.

“If you lose parents, you lose California.”

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Are All California Teachers Worried About Safety?

The Hill report claims that rank and file California teachers may be at odds with their union leadership as well. Many teachers say they are frustrated with online learning and are ready to go back to work.

One teacher stated that, “I’ve been ready to go back for a long time…my position is the Department of Health and health care professionals should be making these calls (to reopen schools) …not the union.” 

While there are many positions and issues to consider before reopening schools, there seems to be no shortage of hypocrisy as well.

Matt Meyer, President of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, is also a strong supporter of not reopening schools until teachers were vaccinated.

But when a group called “Reopen California Schools” recently caught him dropping is 2-year old daughter off at a preschool, Meyer was called out for his double standard. 

Meyer was quick to place blame on those who recorded him dropping off his daughter. He called the actions “very inappropriate.”

He told Fox News, “There are major differences in running a small preschool and a 10,000 student public school district in terms of size, facilities, public health guidance and services that legally have to be provided.”

Newsom and other Democrat officials celebrated the proposal on Monday, describing the negotiations as done “in the spirit of collaboration” and “included a bottom-up not top-down approach.”

Perhaps the question should be, in between charging systemic racism and easing the sting of recall, will anyone consider the needs of California’s school children?

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