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EDITORIAL: ‘It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables’

Abraham Lincoln is often credited — perhaps apocryphally — with the famous quote, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” But regardless of who first uttered such advice, the head of the Los Angeles teachers union seems intent on proving its wisdom.

In an interview with Los Angeles magazine, Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, offered so many stunning and inane observations that there’s little need for further comment:

— On student learning loss because of remote teaching during the pandemic: “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”

— On parents who may be upset that teacher unions kept school closed: “You can recall the governor. You can recall the school board. But how are you going to recall me?”

— On fully reopening schools this fall: “We will be going back to the table for that conversation. … Are there broader issues at play? Yes, there are. Education is political. People don’t want to say that, but it is.”

— On various union demands: “It is not radical to ask for ethnic studies. It is not radical to ask for child care. It’s not radical to ask for police-free schools so that students don’t feel criminalized. That is not radical; that’s just fact.”

— On COVID and classrooms: “If this was a rich person’s disease, we would’ve seen a very different response. We would not have the high rates of infections and deaths. Now educators are being asked to sacrifice ourselves, the safety of our students and the safety of our schools.”

— Her response to a Chicago school official who said that parents pushing to get kids back in the classroom were acting on “white-supremacist thinking”: “Right on!”

— On how her tactics may have alienated many parents: “If our union is stigmatized, I’m glad. I will wear that as a badge of honor.”

Throughout the country, students who had a year or more of remote learning — particularly students of color — find themselves behind or further behind. Most school closures were a direct result of teacher unions refusing to return to the classroom despite public health advice that reopening schools could be done safely and that the dangers of keeping campuses shuttered exceeded the risks of in-person learning.

Because, as Ms. Myart-Cruz highlights, “the children” are at the bottom of the priority list for many teacher union big shots — if they’re even on the list at all.

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