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August 03, 2020

Defund Teachers During the Pandemic

The police are willing to work.

Beyond the ludicrous argument that we don’t need law enforcement, there are sensible reasons for moving some functions and the funding to accomplish them away from police departments and to those who are trained for the specific functions. The reasons for moving funding away from the traditional public schools are at least as compelling.

This post is about moving money and functions away from teachers who can’t or won’t teach during the pandemic to those, including parents, who will watch and educate kids. The next post is about what the pandemic is teaching us about permanently shifting funds from teachers to those best equipped to perform the tasks that were wrapped up in “public schooling” before the pandemic.

Teachers who don’t teach shouldn’t be paid. This is not meant as a punishment. If waitpeople or nurses can’t work because their workplaces are closed or because they are individually too much at risk, they go on unemployment even though the shutdown or their vulnerability is not their fault.  Waitpeople and the owners of restaurants have incentive to be as creative and flexible as they can to keep their jobs. Teachers’ unions, on the other hand, believe their members have a right to get paid whether they work or not. Teachers might be a bit more creative about returning to work if their salaries depended on actually doing their jobs.

The money paid to teachers who don’t teach is needed by parents. If your daycare center is closed because of COVID, at least one parent won’t be able to go to work; however, you do have the money NOT paid to daycare available to offset some of the salary loss. When you stay home because teachers are not taking care of your children, the teachers are getting paid anyway and you’re not. That’s wrong.  Your tax dollars are paying for a service you’re not getting.

The money paid to teachers who don’t teach is needed to pay those who can and will. If your favorite restaurant is closed by the pandemic, you can use the money you didn’t spend there at the grocery store (thanks to many essential workers who have stayed on the job through the pandemic) or at a restaurant with outdoor dining. If your children can’t get educated at their public school, you need the money which would have gone to pay those teacher salaries to pay daycare workers, private schools, tutors, and/or for online courses.

Outrageously, the Los Angeles Teacher’s Union is demanding that charter schools in the city be shut down as part of the price of their returning partly to work. They want to make sure no one else does the job they are not doing.

Coming Next: what the pandemic has taught us about permanently “defunding” teachers.

See also:

Defunding Teachers for Better Education and More Equal Educational Opportunity

Should K-12 Schools Reopen?

Covid Forces Vermont to Split Childcare from Teaching

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