National teachers union pushes mandatory masking, vaccines

National teachers union pushes mandatory masking, vaccines

Delegates to the National Education Association’s annual meeting again called for mask and vaccine mandates, as well as remote learning. On Nov. 8 voters will decide whether to grant Illinois union bosses more power to set school policy.

The National Education Association’s delegates called for mandatory masking, vaccinations and remote learning options during their annual meeting July 3-6 in Chicago.

Delegates discussed new business item 37, which asks national leadership to continue to support forcing COVID-19 policies on schools. The stance runs counter to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which moved to optional masking in schools in Spring 2022.

NEA isn’t the only teachers union wanting to take away personal or local choice in favor of blanket COVID-19 policies. In January, the Chicago Teachers Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, went on strike for five school days to impose its own policies regarding testing and remote learning – again, against the expertise of public health leaders.

Chicago’s top health official and other large city schools saw no need to suspend in-person learning. The walkout was the union’s third work stoppage in 27 months.

Union bosses too often use strikes to push public policy. CTU has taken to the picket line or made demands regarding its social agenda on housing, immigration, “restorative justice,” wealth redistribution and defunding the police.

Still, they are seeking more power through a change to the state constitution. Voters on Nov. 8 will be asked to decide Amendment 1.

The proposed change to the Illinois Constitution is dubbed a “workers’ rights amendment,” but in reality it would cement teachers unions’ influence over Illinois public schools, students and parents. If government unions have the backing of the state constitution, then lawmakers and local leaders would be virtually powerless to stop their demands.

Amendment 1 includes a requirement to negotiate over not just traditional subjects of bargaining, but also additional subjects such as “economic welfare” and other union priorities. Teachers unions could bargain over a virtually limitless array of subjects, keeping students out of classrooms until their social agenda or other militant demands are met.

The fight for control won’t end with compensation issues or COVID-19 policies, although those union battles have already hurt students.

Chicago Public Schools parent Sarah Sachen has seen her kids struggle in the wake of repeated school closures caused by CTU.

“When the union calls a strike, it impacts families financially, educationally, socially,” Sachen said. “CTU wants to keep pushing and striking for demands not even related to education and I don’t want the CTU to have any more power to do that. Learning should not be impeded or stopped for the union’s political games.”

The Illinois Federation of Teachers publicly registered support – twice – for Amendment 1 when it was before the Illinois General Assembly. CTU did the same.

The past two years have shown how teachers unions use the power they have in ways that don’t put students first.

And parents have responded.

Sachen, another parent and teachers are suing to stop Amendment 1 before it gives teachers unions even more power.

Parents are pulling students out of Chicago Public Schools, with over 80,000 students in Chicago finding other education options.

Now, it’s up to voters to decide on Nov. 8 who should have more power in Illinois: teachers union bosses or public health experts and parents.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!