Tuesday, January 5, 2021

About Teachers4OpenSchools

You may have run across a shiny new group on line that is agitating for teachers to be back in the classroom-- Teachers4OpenSchools.

The arguments are the usual ones, from the legitimate concern about mental health to the learning loss baloney. There's not much of anything new here, and not the kind of balance we find in a piece like this one.  But I'm always curious about these little pop-up goups, and the website is pretty opaque about who, exactly, is happening here. But poking around the site, I found two teachers who are apparently acting at least as spokespersons for the group.

One is NYC teacher Stephanie Edmonds, who runs the Youtube channel Class Disruption, where you can find vidcasts like this one, in which she explains what Ibram X. Kendi gets wrong about equity issues and also describes how lefties like emotional language "that may not exactly align with reality" while righties prefer reason and statistics and things that reflect reality (though she "doesn't subscribe" to the whole left-right thing). Power. Vibe. She's a little rambly. She was the president of her college's Libertarian Club. She wants unity and the media is hurting it. She's a history teacher who uses the 1776 unites materials. She has a very distinctive voice, sometimes. She's been a teacher since the fall of 2016.

Her compatriot is Catherine Barrett. We've encountered Barrett before, as a teacher voice on the Speak Out For Teachers website. Barrett a few years back was part of #RedforEd in Arizona until she became a GOP political operative for Doug Ducey, attacking the #RedforEd movement. She also turned up as chair of a group pushing a Classroom Code of Ethics in Arizona, proposed gag rule for teachers in the wake of #RedforEd; that proposal turned out not be an Arizona thing, but an anti-teacher move cooked up by activist David Horowitz and pushed out across the country. Speak Out For Teachers is a creation of the Center for Union Facts, a part of the bunch of dark money conservative groups run by Richard Berman, who  takes a scrappy win ugly approach to fighting unions. 

Right now Speak Out For Teachers is featuring on its page big bold letters proclaiming "Teachers Want To Get Back In The Classroom But unions are standing in the way."

So how did Edmonds and Barrett get together? Well, Edmonds has a big internet footprint, and Barrett is well-connected, so anything's possible. The stated goals of Teachers4OpenSchools are kind of rambly, from getting all schools open to empowering teachers to making a more equitable education system. And they acknowledge there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, though apparently their range of possible solutions does not include keeping buildings closed. 

There may be an argument to be made for opening some schools for some time under certain community conditions with certain supports and resources, but Teachers4OpenSchools doesn't look like the group to make it. 

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