Guest opinion: Charlie Brown and the teacher’s union

  • Wednesday, May 5, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

We’ve all seen the episodes of “Peanuts,” as Lucy holds the football for Charlie Brown and, just as he’s about to kick it she pulls it back. Charlie takes a mighty swing with his foot, goes flying in the air, and lands flat on his back. Lucy says she’s sorry and that she won’t do it again. Later on, she once again holds the football, Charlie approaches, and she pulls it away, with the same result.

Does it seem like Lucy is the teacher’s union, the school district, the teachers and the PTAs, and Charlie Brown is the parents and the students? Every time a reputable source says it’s OK for the children to go back to school, Lucy pulls the football away and makes another demand. While many children are finally back to in person learning at this time it’s still important to review the history on why it took so long to get to this point.

Many private schools have been back in the classroom safely for well over a year now, such as many schools in the Washington Federation of Independent Schools (wfis.org). So Charlie Brown packed his backpack, got excited, and grabbed the football. But Lucy pulled the football away. She said it’s much easier to make a one-off private school safe for teachers than an entire public school district.

Harvard, where they have a few smart people I’m told, conducted a study in June of 2020 and published a report which basically said it was safe for children to return to the classroom (tinyurl.com/HvdStudy). Charlie Brown got all ready again and approached the football. Lucy said that wasn’t reputable enough and would wait for word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as she pulled the football away again.

In January 2021 the CDC said it was safe for children to return to the classroom immediately (tinyurl.com/CDCreopen). Charlie Brown thought, “For sure this time I’m kicking the football through the goalposts.” But this time Lucy said all teacher’s would need to be vaccinated before returning to the classroom and pulled the football away yet again.

By March Charlie Brown was clearly getting frustrated and, doing his best impression in the form of Gov. Jay Inslee, exclaimed, “If I had a nickel for every excuse I have heard for not giving our children on-site instruction, I would be a millionaire at this point. These excuses are getting just a little bit tiresome, frankly.” (tinyurl.com/InsleeCmt)

Now that’s serious, because it’s as strong a statement as we’ve heard from the governor on the topic in a very long time. Can it be that he can talk like that now because he won’t be campaigning again and no longer needs the teacher’s union campaign contributions? You decide.

Yet he still gives in and allows the teacher’s to move up in priority to get the vaccine. Certainly this will make Lucy happy and let Charlie Brown kick the football. Well no, because now Lucy is bringing up something called equity which she can’t explain but it’s good enough for, yes indeed, Lucy to pull the football back yet again.

On the national scene, the Trump administration in July 2020 said it would be perfectly safe for schools to reopen in the fall of 2020. (tinyurl.com/TrumpReopen)

But the Biden administration first said that children would be back in classrooms at the end of the President’s first 100 days one day a week, but then was corrected to five days a week. (tinyurl.com/BidenSchools)

But if you check the calendar, the end of the President’s first 100 days is almost the beginning of May. I can hear Lucy now saying that there’s only a little more than 30 days left in the school year at that point, so it really doesn’t pay to go back into the classroom until the start of the next school year.

In this case, the teacher’s union knows that their campaign contributions are needed, so with that kind of leverage there can only be weakness in the White House and it will be easy for Lucy to pull the football away yet just one more time.

We get a glimpse of what a fool Lucy really thinks of Charlie Brown by the comments of a California school board who didn’t know their meeting was open to the public and was being recorded (tinyurl.com/CalifSchools). One member said she had received a critical letter from a parent and instead of taking it seriously and discussing the criticism of the parent with the other association members she indignantly said she would figure out how to get back at that parent.

Another member said the parents were only upset because they were losing their babysitters, referring to the teachers. All other members readily agreed. Another member even said that his brother-in-law was in the business of selling medical marijuana and that many of the parent’s were his customers, implying the parents were simply sitting at home getting high. Everyone laughed.

While all the members of that school board have been fired it’s what we call a Freudian slip which means that’s what’s really in Lucy’s heart. In another case the President of the California Teacher’s Union spoke out very loudly about keeping the teachers out of the classroom while at the same time he was dropping off his 2-year-old at a private school.

There was a time when issues like this were handled in quite a different way. In 1981, after President Reagan had barely been elected and inaugurated, there was an old organization called PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization — essentially they were the air traffic controllers’ union. On the advice of PATCO the Air Traffic Controllers went on strike. President Reagan was not happy with that and gave them multiple chances to reconsider. (tinyurl.com/PATCOstrike)

PATCO did not take the offer. President Reagan fired all of them and replaced more than 11,000 controllers with the senior managers who did not go on strike and military air traffic controllers. There was not a single incident while replacement controllers were trained and put into position. No one would mess with President Reagan again. But that was a time when there was leadership and strength in the White House.

This commentary must have some disclaimers. It is not about teachers actually liking to work at home because they might be doing less work and getting paid the same. Many others are already debating that. Nor is it an accusation against all the great teachers in Washington state and throughout the country.

But it is about teachers who would without question obey all the commands of the teachers’ union. The question that remains is who speaks for the children besides them and their parents?

In other words, why is it Lucy who has so much power and influence by controlling the football and why is the football pulled away from Charlie Brown every time even though he begs for it not to be? In the end, Lucy could care less about Charlie Brown and more about the power and influence.

The only other question that remains is how badly have the children been damaged and how far behind are they academically. I’m guessing the teacher’s union won’t be that interested in the testing and assessment to determine the children’s education level.

Daryl Knuth is a Sequim resident.

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