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The Times doesn’t put it as bluntly as my headline does but that’s basically where this piece lands. Earlier this month I wrote about the situation in Oregon where, in a bid to reopen schools sooner, Governor Kate Brown moved teachers ahead of 65-year-olds in the vaccine line. But despite most teachers having received at least one shot by now, their unions continue to resist a return to classrooms. Even after the CDC announced guidelines for reopening schools without vaccinated teachers, the unions are still balking. That’s true not only in Oregon but in Washington and California as well. According to the Times there’s no clear reason for this except for the power of unions in deep blue states:
Marguerite Roza, a Georgetown University school finance expert based in Seattle, points out that Washington, Oregon and California “all have more left-leaning leadership that is cozier with the unions.” But Boston, Chicago and New York also have strong public employee unions.
Those Eastern cities also have mayoral control of the school systems. Elected school boards govern the districts on the West Coast, and in most, teachers’ unions are strong political players, particularly in major cities such as Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“Once you haven’t opened for this long, it gets harder and harder,” she said. “The surge may be over and the case counts may have dropped. But we’re not at a lower level of fear.”
Gov. Kate Brown, to her credit, is looking at what is happening to the kids stuck in this situation: “Eleven- and 12-year-olds were attempting suicide. And these were kids who had resources. What about the kids who don’t?” That’s the sort of thing that prompted her to move teachers toward the front of the line for the vaccine. But Portland union president Elizabeth Thiel is still complaining about ventilation, even though CDC guidelines said little more than open the windows.
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