Why can’t schools reopen with willing teachers?

For nearly every Black Lives Matter sign in the U.S. we have a Black child whose school remains closed due to coronapanic. Almost every other enterprise in the U.S. that was legally allowed to continue operating managed to continue operating and/or reopen after a governor-ordered closure. Some workers left due to the perceived risk and other workers were hired.

Nearly every grocery store that was open in 2019 remains open in 2021, for example. Presumably some “team members” left to avoid being exposed to hundreds or thousands of customers each day, but a subset retreating into bunkers didn’t shut down any store. (And, actually, now that we think about it, was there a tidal wave of death that swept away America’s grocery store workers? If not, why is it too dangerous to teach in a classroom?) Airlines, similarly, did not have trouble retaining enough pilots and flight attendants to continue operating all the flights that they wanted to operate. (Counterintuitively, this turned out to be hygienic: “US airline employees report lower rate of COVID-19 infection than public”) American flight schools have similarly kept going. Some instructors decided that they they didn’t want to share cramped 4-seater cabins with potentially plagued students. They sat in home bunkers (unpaid) while the CFIs who weren’t as worried about Covid for whatever reason have been in the trainers for additional hours (and being paid for additional hours) with students.

Why hasn’t anyone proposed having schools reopen with whatever teachers wish to teach? Maybe the would be a subset of the 2019 teachers plus some new-hires. There is no shortage of Americans who seek to collect a government paycheck, right?

In the earlier phase of coronapanic, one possible answer was that governors and/or public health bureaucrats wanted the schools closed “to protect the community.” But that’s not true anymore. Now we have governors and public health bureaucrats saying that schools are safe to open (the science has changed?) and the only obstacle is that unionized teachers refuse to teach. In any other unionized enterprise, when some or all workers refuse to work, the employer has the right to hire replacement workers for the duration of the refusal. Why can’t public schools hire replacement workers as necessary?

7 thoughts on “Why can’t schools reopen with willing teachers?

  1. It is a nice idea, but of course it will not happen at least in the heavily unionized northeast. So in New York State the top 1% of taxpayers pay around 42% of the tax burden and around 92% of those tax payers live in and around NYC. The very affluent who have traditionally paid for everything don’t use public services like the schools and presumably have remained in NYC for the lifestyle. The NYC schools by contrast are about 85% black and Hispanic. The State and local government are kept in power by the municipal unions, who are then rewarded with lucrative contracts that no doubt contain work rules that would either prohibit or hinder this sort of thing. So the people who use the services don’t pay for them and those who pay don’t use them. So as for the closed schools, the municipal and state government are in the pocket of the teachers’ union, the affluent don’t care, except maybe as an academic matter, and the poor too don’t seem to care or are too disorganized — and in any event don’t pay for anything. So whatever they receive from the municipal government is free. Talk about misaligned incentives.

    • Pretty much spot on. New York, state and city, is a tax farm for the benefit of public employees and everybody else who would feed off the public trough. When public employees retire, they move out of the city and state. Non-public employees feeding off the public trough are in medicine and higher education. The financial sector is moving to Texas, Florida, or New Jersey. New York is on the forefront in regulating every aspect of life, and is becoming like Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos — it is one giant prison, where everyone is either a guard or an inmate,

  2. Why do we, as parents, allow the state to control education? Why must the basic act of teaching be so bound up in state regulation and licensure?

    People have forgotten what it is to be free, and they are terrified of running their own lives. People are terrified of taking responsibility for their own lives. We abdicate our liberty for the illusion of safety. It is the same bovine contentment that leads beef into the slaughterhouse.

  3. Massachusetts has got the need for new Assistant Teachers covered through their agreements with the Teachers Union. According to their latest Memorandum of Understanding in Medford:

    “If any of the Assistant Teachers are current MPS employees whose compensation exceeds that of a typical ISS, the current employee will maintain his or her current level of compensation plus the $3,000 stipend contemplated by the preceding provision of this Side Letter.”


    Can anyone even be certified as a teacher in Massachusetts without being a member of the union? I’m not sure they can. I’m quite sure the idea of allowing “scab” teachers anywhere near a Zoom session in MA would be resisted throughout the system with torches and pitchforks. Here’s an article from 2016:


  4. Government workers should not be allowed to unionize. They simply rape the taxpayer. Only in the private sector should unions be allowed.

    The teachers are milking this for as long as they can. They are completely uneducated about their benefits. They still buy into their myth that they make far less than the private sector. Chris Christie did a great job educating this teacher about how sweet a deal the teachers get:

    Interesting thought experiment: Imagine If The Virus Had Never Been Detected

  5. We keep hearing from teachers, especially public ones, how they are overworked, underpaid, have difficult job, their job is risky, deal with many issues, they took the job out of LOVE to help students, so on and so forth, and I know few, very, very few such teachers (I had one during my high school days), but the fact remains, the ONLY public service job that carries ANY of those teachers’ complaint is the job of the armed service men and women. Imagine if THEY decide to say home because it is too dangerous to be on the front line or accept a tour.

    Those teachers are simply, and very slowly, sinking the future of this country. And if that’s not enough, the country is so scared of them, they keep praising them for so called “job well done”.

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