Let’s Keep Politics Out of the School Reopening Debate

​As school districts across the U.S. debate whether they should reopen schools or keep classes virtual for the fall semester, politics has unfortunately entered the debate. Teachers unions are using this opportunity to demand a boost in government funding for public schools and making more extreme demands as conditions for returning to schools.

In Maryland, the state teachers unions are also demanding that schools remain closed and remain online, at least through January. But clearly, it would be against these unions’ interests if private schools reopened, possibly taking students away from the public schools. Therefore, Montgomery County officials wanted to ban private schools from reopening in the fall as well, but Gov. Hogan’s emergency order wisely blocked this move.

Sadly, what happened in Maryland is similar to what is going on nationally. The American Federation of Teachers is demanding an additional $116.5 billion in federal funding for safely going back to schools. In California, the Los Angeles Teachers Union is demanding “moratorium” on charter schools and voucher programs that they claim drain resources away from public schools.

It is heartbreaking to see the unions across the country trying to use the global health emergency as a chance to fulfill their wish lists and to weaken their competition. But at least in Maryland, this should not come as a big surprise. Historically, public sector unions have always had a strong influence in Maryland politics, and the unions are accustomed to getting what they want through frequent strikes and expensive lobbying efforts.