I have no idea how we ended up as one of the NEA's press contacts but we apparently are on the list. Might be all the page views we are getting these days. Our readership has almost tripled since early March. The only times our page views have ever been significantly higher was during contract battles. (Do I sound like Trump bragging that the ratings are up? Back to reality: unfortunately, we still only reach a tiny fraction of the UFT membership so please spread the word about us on Facebook, Twitter, your school site, or wherever you can.) It is kind of cool to be thought of as a press outlet that the NEA thinks is worth putting on their list. AFT President Randi Weingarten might soon call the NEA to get us off that NEA press list.
Anyway, here is the latest NEA press release reacting to President Trump telling schools to seriously consider reopening. Between Trump, Cuomo and de Blasio, we have had a triple crown of incompetence through the COVID-19 crisis. There are reasons why the USA leads the world with over a million cases and NY is the epicenter. The tremendous arrogance combined with undersize reasoning skills in the executive branch leaders at the federal, state, and city levels has led to catastrophic consequences. The lack of strong unions is on that blame list too here in NY.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2020
Trump’s call to reopen school buildings is dangerous for students, staff
NEA: We must listen to health experts and educators on how and when to reopen schools
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday urged the nation’s governors to “seriously consider” reopening schools as part of his push to restart the economy, though at least 43 states and the District of Columbia already have recommended against returning to school buildings during the 2019-20 academic year, and medical experts say it is far too early to return to in-person classes.
The National Education Association
— which represents more than 3 million teachers, school employees and other staff who work in U.S. public schools, colleges and universities — called on all school buildings to close and transition to distance learning in March before the pandemic gripped communities. The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García
“The health and safety of our students, families, and educators must be the primary driver of when it is safe to re-open school buildings in each community. We listening to the health experts and educators on how and when to reopen schools — not the whims of Donald Trump who boasts about trusting his gut to guide him during this unprecedented global health crisis. There is not a single educator on the White House task force focused on reopening the American economy. This means that 51 million public school students do not have an advocate in the White House for what they need to be safe as school buildings reopen. Bringing thousands of children together in school buildings without proper testing, tracing, and social isolation is dangerous and could cost lives.
“Although school buildings have been closed, teachers and education support professionals have been working harder than ever to keep learning opportunities accessible for students. When the buildings re-open, we must prioritize the well-being of every person in the school. We will all need the time and space to re-connect, to grieve, to heal, and to re-focus. Students will need specialized staff like school nurses, school social workers, and school psychologists who will have a crucial role to play, addressing mental and behavior health issues as well as broader issues of ensuring that reopened schools remain safe and healthy.
More resources are available at www.nea.org/coronavirus
Follow on twitter at @NEAmedia and @Lily_NEA
Keep up with the conversation on social media at #ProtectAllWorkers
In addition, Politico covered the story
of both the AFT and NEA reacting to Trump.
Here's AFT President Randi Weingarten's view:
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, previewing a reopening plan first with POLITICO, said funding is needed for a host of public health measures for schools, including personal protective equipment. Collective bargaining, strong enforcement of safety standards and protections from retaliation will be important for teachers and staff so they feel safe to speak up as schools try new approaches, she said.
If schools are reopened without proper safety measures, “you scream bloody murder,” Weingarten said. “And you do everything you can to ... use your public megaphones.”
Now for NEA's Lili again:
Teachers are united after more than two years of strikes for more state funding and they have “tremendous power” as advocates for children's safety, said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. She didn’t rule out strikes if state leaders move prematurely on a reopening of schools, and she said she believes parents would protest too.
“You put all things on the table when it comes to student safety,” Eskelsen García said. "And ... I don't think we'll be alone."
Locally, the UFT will use that megaphone to scream and yell and maybe even file a useless lawsuit or two or three when we should be saying we will not enter any building that we deem unsafe.