‘Good for the goose’ should apply to teacher unions

‘Good for the goose’ should apply to teacher unions

Somebody needed to say it and Ira Weiss just did.

A long-running thread in the now nearly year-old coronavirus pandemic has been that school districts supposedly too often have fallen short in protecting teachers and other union-represented staff from infection.

After all, the union side of the story has gone, kids of all ages are a risk to those teachers and staff, especially those who might have underlying conditions in which a Covid-19 infection could prove serious or even deadly.

If proper, state-ordered protocols are not followed, the risk is manifest, the union argues. Yes, it is. But … .

As the Post-Gazette reports, the latest salvo in this ongoing debate – considered offensive in every sense of the word by many but defensive by organized teacher labor – came in December when “Pennsylvania teachers unions created online platforms for staffs and communities to report instances of noncompliance with Covid-19 health guidelines at schools.”

But Weiss, who for decades has served as solicitor for myriad Western Pennsylvania school districts, finally called out the union for presenting a decidedly one-sided, and likely inaccurate, picture of what’s going on.

“To have this sort of approach where there’s a suggestion that it’s conditions in the schools that are responsible for this is simply not right,” Weiss told the P-G.

As he sees it, it was hypocritical of the unions to attempt to pin blame on districts for Covid-19 violations when irresponsible outside behavior by staff members has led to many of the pandemic-related issues at schools this year.

Adults and children who have participated in activities such as family gatherings and athletic tournaments have caused the majority of virus cases in schools, not broken health protocols in buildings,” Weiss told the newspaper. 

Staff itself cannot shirk responsibility, he stressed, in necessary bluntness:

“The problem in every district that has had difficulty is, you have large numbers of staff who either are getting sick from outside activity — Disney World, Las Vegas, etc. — or socialization at holiday time or other times,” Weiss told the P-G.

“I just think that that kind of behavior needs to be recognized as a big factor why many schools are in remote instruction now.”

Thus, who could blame districts and/or parents for creating their own online platforms to report instances of teacher/staff noncompliance with Covid-19 health guidelines outside of schools?

No doubt, the cartels that are the teacher unions would file some sort of “unfair labor practice” complaint.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).