*** Recently, Corey DeAngelis, national director of research at the American Federation for Children and executive director at the Educational Freedom Institute, looked into school reopenings in the time of COVID-19.

For his study, he analyzed data on school reopening decisions for more than 800 public schools provided by Education Week and more than 10,000 public school districts by MCH Strategic Data, and then compiled his findings in “Are School Reopening Decisions Related to Union Influence?” Among them:

  • “There was a stark contrast in the response to COVID-19 between school sectors. Private schools were fighting to reopen… But many public-school teachers’ unions fought to remain closed for in-person instruction…”
  • “We found that school districts in locations with stronger teachers’ unions were substantially less likely to reopen in person even after we controlled for differences in local demographic characteristics. For example, we found that school districts in states without right-to-work laws were about 11 percentage points less likely to fully reopen… Additionally, we found that a 10% rise in union workers at the county level and a 10% increase in union power—as measured by Fordham Institute’s state ranking of teachers’ union strength—were both associated with around one percentage point decline in the probability of public schools reopening in person…”
  • “Political partisanship was a strong predictor of reopening decisions,” but NOT measures of COVID-10 risk…”
  • “The key takeaway is that school reopening has been more about political partisanship and power dynamics than actual safety concerns and the needs of millions of families.”

*** In March, the CDC changed its social distancing guidelines in certain school settings from 6’ to 3’ as long as everyone wore masks, with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky saying the decision was science-based.

At the time, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and other urban school leaders expressed concern with the change when it came to urban school districts.

That was then; as of April 12, Weingarten agreed with the revised guidelines.

With thanks, Carol