Online classes in the District of Columbia in spring had been a disaster. Thousands of students didn’t have computers or reliable WiFi. Many were falling behind. So as spring gave way to summer, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) was determined to open schools again.
By mid-July, she had a plan. But it depended on cooperation of the teachers, and their union responded with protests.
Hours before the mayor was to make an announcement, she said she needed more time.
The city spent the next five months trying to bring students and teachers back to classrooms. A combination of mismanagement by the mayor and her aides and intransigence from the District’s teachers union combined to thwart every move, according to interviews with city officials, union leaders, educators and activists. The city kept changing its plan, and the union kept changing its demands. A lack of trust on both sides fueled failure at every turn.
As urban school districts across the country struggled with classroom reopening plans, a close look at the District’s experience shows how hard it has been to develop workable strategies — and how much power teachers wield, particularly when they have a strong union behind them.
The District’s impasse meant it squandered the chance to give its most vulnerable children classroom time while infection rates were low. Now the earliest any students will have face-to-face instruction will be February.
While teachers worked to persuade parents that reopening was dangerous and the District’s plan inadequate, the city did little to sell either the urgency of going back or the details of its plan to the general public.
The school system had proof that children were falling behind because of remote learning but sowed doubt in the findings by presenting inaccurate data. Principals had no input in shaping the reopening plan and were left in the dark about its details. Advocates for homeless children — the students city officials argued most urgently needed to be in school — never heard from administrators. Groups that worked with students with disabilities said they couldn’t get their questions answered, so these families were reluctant to go back.
Paul Kihn, deputy mayor for education, said the city surveyed families in the summer and knew about half were ready to return to school buildings. But city officials made a major miscalculation. They assumed they would be able to strike a deal with the union and enough teachers would be willing to come back to classrooms.
That never happened.
At least twice, the Washington Teachers’ Union reached tentative agreements with the city to reopen, only to back out a few days later. The union staked out demands that went far beyond what was in place elsewhere and beyond guidelines set by its national union.
The result: Teachers were applying maximum pressure to stay closed, but there was virtually no public pressure to reopen.
“The plans we made assumed we would be able to have our teachers in our buildings,” Kihn said.
Even as restaurants and salons opened to customers, as private and charter schools began in-person classes and available data show scant virus infection in the nation’s open schools, the traditional public school system has remained entirely virtual, with a few hundred elementary school students participating in virtual learning from classrooms under the supervision of nonteaching staff.
City officials maintain they have done everything possible to reopen safely and effectively.
“Our plans are being made on the best available science,” D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee said in July before previewing one of the city’s reopening plans. “There is no substitute for in-person instruction.”
The teachers union says it agrees, in theory, but has opposed every plan to open classrooms.
“It’s almost like they are building the plane while flying,” Elizabeth Davis, the union’s president, said. “That is not okay with us.”
Now city leaders are trying again. If health metrics allow for it — a major question given the surging caseloads — they plan to reopen all school buildings with teachers in February. This time around, according to city officials, principals, staff and parents are having more of a say in their schools’ reopening plans.
Video: Rhode Island Teacher Warns CRT ‘Absolutely Everywhere’ In Schools
“It’s in the plot narratives; it’s in the characterization; it’s in the imagery, it’s in the art projects, the history class, the English classes.”
A middle school English teacher in Providence, Rhode Island has warned that critical race theory, which teaches children they should feel guilty for being white, is “absolutely everywhere” in schools in the area and that it is causing “great harm and racial divide and hostility between children.”
Ramona Bessinger described to RT host Steve Malzberg how she has been barred from giving classes for speaking out against her school district’s “radicalized” CRT “culture”, noting that there used to be “lots of diversity [and] lots of multicultural materials” in the curriculum, but now its essentially all CRT.
“We’re not teaching critical race theory. It’s implicit in the culture,” Bessinger explained, adding “It is implicit in all the reading materials. It is implicit in all the projects that the kids are doing.”
“It really has to stop,” she urged, adding “It’s in the plot narratives; it’s in the characterization; it’s in the imagery, it’s in the art projects, the history class, the English classes.”
“It is in the language that we are told to use in our professional development,” the teacher further warned, adding. “It is absolutely everywhere.”
“Just to speak to the fact that our libraries are being dismantled and books are being moved into archaic basement rooms around the school or flat-out thrown out,” Bessinger emphasized, adding “there’s a whole shift taking place and we really need to pay attention to this.”
She ominously added, “I don’t believe we’re going to recognize our country if this is allowed to take place because the culture is changing from within our schools and it’s changing rapidly.”
“Once they turn children against you and kids start believing this narrative that you are somehow racist, then it’s over,” she further warned.
Leftists are adamant that CRT is not being taught in schools, as the following video highlights. However, as Ramona Bessinger points out, it doesn’t have to officially be on the curriculum to exist in schools.
Large LA crowd protests against vaccine mandate
Thousands gather outside Los Angeles City Hall Monday to protest the mandate for all city workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 18.
The vaccine requirements for city workers are meant to increase vaccination rates and stave off another deadly COVID-19 surge as the virus continues to circulate and the more-transmissible delta variant spreads.
The group Firefighters 4 Freedom organized the rally, dubbed “A March for Freedom,” saying it will be attended by firefighters, police officers, electrical workers, sanitation workers and city government employees.
Aerial video from Sky5 showed a large crowd of people gathered in the area of 200 Main St. around 11 a.m., many carrying “thin blue line” and “thin red line” flags, and signs including ones saying “stop the mandate.”
Retried LAPD Detective Moses Castillo was attending the rally.
“I’m here to show support for the men and women in law enforcement, the firefighters, those working in sanitation… who are here not so much against being vaccinated, or the vaccine, but they’re against being forced to do so by our local government,” Castillo explained.
John Knox, of Firefighters 4 Freedom, called the mandates unconstitutional.
“That’s an overreach on the government’s part, because it’s not your right to tell me what I do with my health care, what I put into my body,” Knox said.
A flyer for the rally calls for participants to speak out against both local mandates and federal ones.
The Biden Administration last week announced that Americans working at companies with 100 or more employees will need to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, or get tested for the virus weekly.
In L.A., Mayor Eric Garcetti warned that city employees who don’t get vaccinated by Dec. 18 “should be prepared to lose their job.”
The L.A. City Council in August passed an ordinance requiring all city employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they are granted an exemption for medical or religious reasons.
The deadline for L.A. workers was initially set for an earlier date, but was extended by the city council to give unvaccinated workers more time to comply.
The ordinance states that the requirement is meant to protect the city’s workforce, and the public that it serves, against COVID-19, which was responsible for 26,750 deaths countywide.
The Los Angeles firefighters union last week voiced their opposition to the city’s mandate, saying officials should allow firefighters to choose between getting the shot or tested weekly.
Members of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City President Freddy Escobar warned that the L.A. Fire Department is already facing staffing shortages that could worsen as a result of the mandate, the L.A. Times reported.
11/3: AZ Gubernatorial Candidate Kari Lake Leads AZ Election Integrity Rally
Arizona Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake will host a rally tomorrow at 6 p.m. tomorrow in Glendale, Arizona and we will hear from some of the Patriots who have led the fight for the truth.
Get tickets, here.
Appearances or videos will be made by Candidate for Arizona Secretary of State Mark Finchem, Liz Harris, Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers, Arizona State Senator Sonny Borrelli, Christina Bobb, Mike Lindell, Congressman Paul Gosar, and more!
Lake has a message from a “very, very special someone”, named President Donald J. Trump.