Special report: is closing schools immoral?
Current and former teachers speak out on the true impact on children
For much of the past year, across Europe and the wider world, schools have been closed. Was this a morally justifiable policy?
We spoke to teachers and one former teacher, now MP, to find out: what is the reality on the ground? What is the impact on children’s lives? At the end of it do we think it was the right decision? Katharine Birbalsingh, Headmistress of the Michaela Community School in northwest London. Miriam Cates MP, Conservative MP and former science teacher and Alex Gutentag, a public school teacher from Oakland in California.
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Each of them comes to a different conclusion but they agree on one thing: the impact on children of such an extended period of school closures is very grave.
Many thanks to Katharine, Miriam and Alex for sharing their thoughts so candidly.
In the US schools are open in many areas. But in blue states and cities, the teachers unions have kept them closed even though that hurts disadvantaged kids more than anyone. Chicago teachers union is threatening a strike if they are forced to go back to their jobs. They should all be fired if they strike. While that is certainly immoral to hurt disadvantaged kids, it’s even worse in that it is unscientific.
There is nothing more immoral than the teachers and their unions.
The unions certainly. But then I am not in favor of public worker unions since they are taxpayer supported entities. The public should not be bargaining against itself. But I have known many wonderful teachers, including some who fought against unions as a way to keep students’ interests first.
Yes, the teachers unions have become too powerful. Get back to teaching the children or move aside and let others who will.
Professionally, I have to deal with the consequences of all this, and the speakers are absolutely right that it disproportionately disadvantages the already disadvantaged. Let’s get the schools open again, and sharpish. I don’t give a stuff if Tilly, Henry, and Oscar are enjoying home schooling on their Macbooks in the spacious, warm study; there are kids from poor families slipping through the cracks, despite our best efforts.
The largest donor to the Democratic Party in California is the California Teacher’s Association. Unions don’t care about kids, they care about power. The former leader of the CTA explicitly confirmed this a few years ago when being interviewed about a different school-related issue. He said, in effect, “We don’t represent children, we represent teachers.” Teachers who the union paints as being more concerned with their own health and happiness than they are for the kids they teach. So much for public service.
Most of the teachers I know care about our children, and want to return to the classroom. But as long as the CTA is calling the shots in Sacramento (he who pays the piper calls the tune), Gavin Newsom will never have the backbone to issue the order re-opening the schools.
We have five grand daughters, ages 6 – 18. The effects of school closure on them has been profound. And, they are surrounded by loving extended families. I shudder to contemplate the effects on kids less fortunate. Those consequences will be played out in American culture for decades to come.
Keeping the schools closed is criminal.
In Las Vegas the teachers finally went back to work. But only after they were shamed into doing so by the suicide of 20 kids due to lockdown. For the most part, the teachers and their unions are just evil.
A good reminder of huge and mostly ignored collateral damage.
Alex, you are a hero!
For the granny’s safety , we have thrown our children under the bus.
Also, the grannies were not asked and most would be appalled at the idea.
A genuine question- So where are the polls coming from ? With 65% still in favour of lockdown.
I may have to edit my comment to . . . some would be appalled . . .
I trust the polls are from a cross section of the population and I know there are grannies who are terrified of going out too.
The year of constant fear-mongering including the cuddly granny killing guilt trip works on us all to a certain extent.
I also blame a lack of research and imagination on most people’s part who just don’t seem interested in questioning anything that’s going on.
The current propaganda is very clever – in the past it has often been anything that damages children was seen as totally unacceptable, but as you say, they have now been thrown under the bus.
Yes and keeping the fear going is the one thing they must do. It is to keep us all afraid and away from each other and like you address here, people do not even try to research for their own or question – a perfect calamity for keeping this going. 🙁
Absolutely true! As a granny myself, I am horrified at the destruction of the youth. I never wanted this. There should never have been a shutdown at all! Nowhere. It was never scientifically based.
It never was about saving Granny. It was, and is, about the Great Reset and breaking down society – especially, destroying the connection between young and old – and rebuilding it as a totalitarian state run by the oligarchs. It’s about the commodification of human beings and the hoarding of resources. Anyone who does not comply is shamed, shunned, marginalized. One need only look to China for the world that is being rolled out. Workers and future generations have been thrown under the bus. However, even if the oligarchs hadn’t gone sociopathic, nature would have taken down humanity. We live on a finite planet and the sheer physics of exponential energy consumption would have sent our species over the cliff.
I am not convinced with your last sentence but prior to that, I certainly am seeing this.
Yes, and many grandparents do not want their grandchildren sacrificed for them. A twisted world we live in.
No doubt about it, Alex Gutentag has guts. She’s also right.
I am not a teacher. I was very fortunate to benefit from an excellent education, and all I wanted for my children (now all grown up) was for them to be equally fortunate. A significant number of my friends and acquaintances are teachers, so education is something that I have been closely involved with and focused on for many years.
I accept that there are members of the teaching ‘profession’ who are committed and hard working. Unfortunately many I have encou tered over the years are time-serving jobsworths whose priorities, in order, are the salary, the holidays, the pension and last – very much least – the pupils. They are not necessarily bad people, but they are weak and lazy, and if someone gives them the opportunity to do little or nothing while on full pay, they will grasp it with both hands, all the time complaining how hard done by they are if they are forced to do some on-line teaching during lockdown.
Coincidentally – or perhaps not – the worst offenders tend to be the ones who are most ‘unionised’.
I admit this has made me very cynical about the response of teachers in general to covid, and the response of the teachers’ unions in particular, but I would like to see the education sector do its job without looking for an easy way out, in the same way that the health sector (imperfect though it may be) has buckled down and, in general, got on with it.
‘Coincidentally – or perhaps not – the worst offenders tend to be the ones who are most ‘unionised’.’
Believe me, there is nothing ‘coincidental’ about that.
Does anyone remember the Armstrong and Miller …..so I became a teacher sketches https://www.youtube.com/wat…
A perfect response. I have lost for the most part any respect for teachers and that was before this covid deal. You are correct, children come last and it is always how they are trying to get out of work. Now I know there are some who truly love their jobs but in all my experience of raising children and now watching their children, I stand by my statement.
Also annoying is that if teachers have children of their own, they will be getting the very best tuition – whatever the unions say.
I agree that there must be some good teachers around but they don’t have any courage in the union meetings – and that makes them bad as well. The idea that they are set up for life, whether they are good or bad, makes me shudder with anger.
Unfortunately, none of them will be reading this.
Stay home Protect the NHS.
Translates into Deny your children an education and a future.
Would we have been so quick to sign up to it in March if we knew then what we know now?
“Biden’s proposed American Rescue Plan best captures the new administration’s intermingling of public policy and greasy-pole gamesmanship. Take, for example, the $130 billion that Biden wants to spend on K”“12 schools. That number is on top of the $67 billion Congress already has committed to reopening elementary and secondary schools.
The additional cash is a handout to the teachers’ unions, who have opposed a return to in-person instruction at every opportunity, and who are among Biden’s closest allies. Biden has adopted the unions’ rhetoric, saying that schools cannot open until they have been renovated. He’s wrong, of course ” measures such as masks, hygiene, and social distancing are enough to stop the spread, especially among the elementary schoolers who need in-person classes the most and whose transmission rates are low. But science doesn’t matter. The unions must get paid.”
Source: National Review Online, January 30, 2021 Matthew Continetti
I will talk about the U.S Schools here because I have more experience with them. The 2 biggest reasons that schools are closed while bars and stores are trying to repoen starting now.
1. We donÂ´t have a long term plan for vaccination or controlling covid. We are purely reactive not proactive. This happens a lot on long-term issues like climate change because we simply arenÂ´t prepared to accept anything that doesnÂ´t have results NOW. Everything takes time and itÂ´s important to make a proactive plan early.
2. Schools donÂ´t bring in any money to the state and state budgets are hurting too. We have about a $500 billion shortfall, primarily caused by necessary lockdowns. This means perversely schools arenÂ´t a priority to open because schools must be free, or they canÂ´t educate everyone. They also donÂ´t buy or sell anything, which is the main way the state government gets money. Combine this with rules that stipulate that no debt can be taken on in many states, and they are in a rock and hard place.
Lockdown TV is far and away the best resource for informing people about issues related to the pandemic. I asked my 17-year-old stepson what his experience of online learning was. In some Ontario school boards there is no lockdown anymore, and everyone is back to in-class learning, but in Ottawa, where we live, right now there is in-class learning half of the days of the week and online learniing the other half. The teachers have never been sure whether they were going to be teaching in-class, online or half -and-half, which puts a strain on everyone. He had nothing but praise for his teachers and how they were coping with conditions. He said that he never wrote assignments with other kids and wasn’t aware of other people doing so. I am university-educated but really couldn’t offer him much help with his school work. It has been a long time since I took high school biology and chemistry and I don’t remember it.
Miki is in the final year of a dedicated arts high school on the other side of Ottawa, so unfortunately when there is no in-class instruction he can’t easily get together with his classmates, because they live too far away. My biggest regret of this lockdown is that in his senior year he got to direct his own Director’s Scene (he chose a scene from Shaw’s “Arms and the Man”) and my wife and I couldn’t watch the production because of the COVID restrictions. Although there were plenty of costumes in the costume department of the high school these were all off-limits due to what I thought were over-the-top anti-COVID measures imposed at some level of the bureaucracy. Undeterred he went out and bought something that would pass as a uniform for Bluntschli, the chocolate cream soldier, himself.
What a daft premise.
We can get the Guardian online and still have our Inconvenient Truth DVD.
We have the Obama poster and Malalas autobiography.
We clap the NHS even if noone else does ,and we dutifully colour in our weekly print off chart of the NHS rainbow.
This is more than ten years of schooling . And in fact all the above is the total terminus of all educational curricula ,and all examinable content in English schools.
Been so since Estelle Morris.
No. Shut the schools down ,revert to Hbv vaccinations, obesity checks, fat callipers testing and turn them into migrant processing centres. And give us our money back so we can teach our own something useful. Not how to weep when a toxic doom midget tells us that there’s only a few years left…Charles, Kerry are equally stupid.
Yes, closing the schools is and was immoral. But almost everything our various governments do is immoral. Next question.
Next question is how you would do it better – not just ideas which are easy but also how you would get people to vote for you.
That is largely the problem ‘how to get people to vote for you’. Those in charge of this are worried about that very thing.
I had to switch off after half a second of the first speaker. I have no doubt that Katharine Birbalsingh talks perfect sense later on, as she always does.
Why? I went and listened to the beginning again and can’t see what you are on about.
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