New York Post Editorial July 26

Jul 27, 2020 by

The pandemic has altered our lives and broadened our perspectives, but the New York Post’s editorial hostility to the teachers union has endured as a rock of intransigence.

Their editorial (“Non-Essential Teachers?”, 7/26) condemns the UFT and its leadership for protecting their members by insisting on science-based evidence of reasonable safety as a non-negotiable criterion for the physical opening of schools in September.

They regard that condition as mass abrogation of professional responsibility and just another pretext for staying home on the taxpayers’ dime. Revolutionary hooky playing.  The public school system has gone to hell in a handbasket because teachers balk at playing roulette with their lives.

That’s the Post for you.

Their impugning the motives of teachers is sometimes insinuated and often stated flat out. They feel that the only reason that teachers won’t blindly obey orders to report to contagion- rich buildings is simply that they prefer not to. 

Even long before the virus, they habitually alleged that attitudinal deficiency is just another perk of union membership. They want summary executions of the careers of teachers who don’t heel to even illegal commands or corrupted direction.

They correctly note that the recent “distance learning” was riddled with problems, such as computer illiteracy and lack of access. When some teachers struggled with it, the Post attributed it to wilful failure that must be punished. 

Fluency with the tools and tricks of technology was not part of the job description of most veteran teachers who received no training before almost overnight being thrust into depending on it almost exclusively as  a means of communicating with students and their parents.  The fact that these educators have not been replaced is sufficient proof to the Post that we are not living “in a rational world” and that the UFT  “doesn’t really care about education or the children at all”.

The Post’s anti-education editorial slants are infused into their theoretically straight news pages also.  When a significant percentage of Stuyvesant High School teachers availed themselves of the DOE’s invitation to apply for exemption from attendance in the school building, based on expert guidelines and conditional on their providing compelling documentation to justify it, the Post practically called those vulnerable teachers cynical and disloyal.

The title of the editorial, “Non-Essential Teachers?” reeks with smarminess.   With pathetic wordplay designed to show up the teachers union, which unapologetically recognizes the mission of educating our children as essential, the Post, with malicious mischief suggests that since the teachers union is not urging its members into schools absolutely without regard to high realistic risks, they have had a change of heart and no longer see themselves as essential.

To the Post, teachers don’t qualify as frontline heroes because in the Post’s view, they have abandoned their positions, which are equivalent to police precincts and firehouses, and therefore aren’t essential, even if they redeem a generation.

The Post has occasionally done some admirable investigative reports on the DOE and in the public interest exposed some glaring weaknesses.  But when  they default to their anti-UFT position, they forfeit their credibility, not only to union members, but to all New Yorkers.

Ron Isaac

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