- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 29, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, so too does the battle for reopening public schools.

The teachers unions’ trick is to oppose classroom learning as unsafe, sometimes even drawing up the generations-old canard about aging, crumbling and overcrowded school facilities.

The treat for school reformers is the opportunity to turn those members’ only dramas into advantages for their families and for the children who, through no fault of their own, are being used as pawns.

Take off the orange-tinted glasses and look at current events this way: Many of the educators opposing in-person schooling also oppose charter schooling, homeschooling, pod schooling, publicly funded vouchers and privately funded education accounts.

What’s their strategy during the pandemic? Let’s loop around the Beltway.

In Virginia, Fairfax County officials say “Let’s return to our classrooms,” and the Fairfax County Education Association says, “No, let’s hold off until August 2021.”

That translates to more than a year for which taxpayers have funded in-person teaching, lab work and the benefits of student-athleticism.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan encouraged school districts in August to develop in-school teaching and learning plans, but the Maryland State Education Association pushed back, accusing Mr. Hogan of throwing communities “under a bus.”

This, as association members knew, Maryland voters would be weighing a ballot question that proposes thumbs-up or thumbs-down on whether to permit gambling on sports and other competitive events at licensed facilities. The state gambling money would be directed toward public schooling.

Odds are the initiative will pass, but it’ll be wait-and-see whether the money follows kids into their classrooms. Unions are like the military: Everyone moves in lockstep.

In the District, union leaders knew they would be in position to nix in-person schooling when the city asked teachers to fill out a form asking if they expected to return to school for the 2020-21 fall semester. How’d the union pull it off? It told members not to commit.

Nothing it seems is normal amid the pandemic. The union tricks making the rounds this Halloween season aren’t new and, in fact, should be stamped with expiration dates.

It’s past time, too, to flip the script — a scaredy-cat script at that.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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