By Andrew J. Manuse
With fewer than four weeks remaining before school begins, union bosses, school administrative units (SAUs), and school boards seem to be conspiring to hold the school year hostage at the price of our children’s future. This affects all of us who pay property taxes in New Hampshire, regardless of whether we have children who attend public schools. It’s time to demand these administrators listen to their constituents instead of their union masters and fully open our schools and start educating our children.
We hear numerous stories about parents demanding better educational options for their children, including in-person education at public schools, and school boards are refusing to listen. These leaders are leveraging Covid-19 to enhance their influence and power. “Unions are threatening to strike if classrooms reopen, but are also pushing to limit live remote teaching. Their demands will shape pandemic education,” according to an article in The New York Times.
Numerous studies from around the world have shown how children are at an extremely low risk of spreading Covid-19, with emphasis on a telling report from May conducted by the Medical Faculty of the TU Dresden and University Hospital Carl Gustav Carusand in Germany. A corroborating article, “Reopening Primary Schools during the Pandemic,” was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In New Hampshire, our state epidemiology dashboard clearly shows that no one under the age of 19 has died of Covid-19.
What are we to do with all of this information that clearly shows a dichotomy between what we’re being told and the truth? We’ve heard a former U.S. Attorney General say that it’s important to “never let a crisis go to waste.” It’s hard to imagine that administrators and union bosses are not trying to use Covid-19 to their own advantage to the detriment of our children and their future. This isn’t acceptable and it needs to come to an end.
Besides the union power grab stymying our country’s future, the hysteria surrounding the disease itself is also taking its toll on our developing children. With masks, social distancing, remote learning and other revolutionary concepts flooding the state’s public education discussion, we are losing focus on what actually matters; namely, making sure our children have an “adequate education.” Isn’t that why we pay property taxes to support public education?
With so many school boards working with their union bosses on limitations to the education that they are required to provide, it appears that private schools seem more prepared to educate according to the “old normal.” If this continues, public school administrators may be writing their own Reduction In Force letter with the approaches they are now taking. Why should we bother to pay property taxes to a school system that doesn’t educate and is clearly violating the law for in-school class work for at least 180 days?
As ReopenNH has said all along, pandemics don’t allow for the suspension of law by governor edict, school board rulings, school administrator decisions, or union fiat. We have a Legislature to pass laws, and schooling requirements have not changed.
Ultimately, I think parents faced with the prospect of sending their children to school for two or three days a week in a dystopian environment and then figuring out how to manage their job the rest of the week will have tough decisions to make. Do administrators really believe their clearly inferior and unnecessary methods will be widely adopted?
Parents are smart people who love their children and want the best for them. When it comes to education, these same parents will just say “no thank you” to the dysfunction of the new public school system and turn to charter schools, private schools, or homeschooling instead. It may be a blessing in disguise, but make no mistake, as more and more parents choose to do this, these same parents will demand that their property taxes be lowered or redirected accordingly.
This may, in fact, be the death knell for the public school system run by the unions in New Hampshire. Administrators and school boards are not only failing themselves by listening to their union bosses over parents and concerned citizens and using a declining pandemic to their personal advantage, they are failing these children, too. A poor education can affect a child for life, so it is imperative we get this right.
Andrew J. Manuse is chairman of ReOpenNH.com, an organization devoted to getting New Hampshire back to work via a petition drive and coordinated demonstrations against arbitrary government power.