Teachers’ union president caught dropping off kid at private school despite fighting against reopening schools

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BERKELEY, CA – The head of a California teachers’ union has been labeled a hypocrite for advocating for schools to remain closed for pandemic precautions while taking his own child to private school.

However, others are saying the video crosses a line.

Berkeley Federation of Teachers President Matt Meyer, who has been a vocal advocate for keeping the schools closed, was spotted dropping off his two-year-old daughter for in-person instruction at a private pre-school near San Francisco.

A group known as Guerilla Momz, an activist group of mothers dedicated to sending their children back to school, released a video of Meyer walking his daughter to the private pre-school:

The group posted the video on their Twitter page stating:

Meet Matt Meyer. White man with dreads and president of the local teachers’ union. He’s been saying it is unsafe for *your kid* to be back at school, all the while dropping his kid off at private school”

In a YouTube video also posted by the group, the post said:

“Matt Meyer Berkeley Federation of Lecturers President blocks opening public faculties in-person but has had his personal little one in in-person faculty since June 2020. Cease the hypocrisy. Our youngsters are struggling. Open faculties full-time Now.”

 

Meyers reacted to the Guerilla Momz’s video and comments as “very inappropriate”:

“There are major differences in running a small preschool and a 10,000-student public school district in terms of size, facilities, public health guidance, and services that legally have to be provided.

“We all want a safe return to school. The Berkeley Federation of Teachers is excited that Berkeley Unified will be reopening soon with a plan, supported by our members and the district, to get our students back in classrooms starting later this month.”

Meyers said that the video violated his child’s privacy and that she was scared by the video:

“I have my two-year-old in preschool. Unfortunately, there are no public schools for kids her age. We are excited that we will be reopening soon with a plan that our members and the district supports.”

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Meyers also pointed out that his job as president of the teacher’s union requires him to advocate for the members and not his own personal choices:

“(Preschools are) a completely different universe from an elementary school in terms of size, services provided, outside space, and public health guidelines. I don’t have elementary school-aged children. So, I haven’t had to make those choices.”

The Guerilla Momz video opens with dramatic music and a sign posted at the school which said,” Berkeley Unified School District designates this entire field and campus closed 24 hours (until further notice)”.

After subtitles explain that the schools have been closed for a year, scenes of empty school hallways and classrooms flash across the screen. This video subtitle then says, “Thousands of our children are suffering learning loss, social isolation, and mental health breakdowns.”

The video then shows Matt Meyer walking his daughter, who is blurred out, walking to pre-school. A cut-in clip shows Meyers saying that “real-life children do not keep their masks on.”

Dr. Shelene Stine, who has one child in the same private preschool and another child attending Berkeley Unified School District, criticized Meyer for supporting the closure of one school while taking his child to another:

“I am a physician. It is definitively the scientific agreement that it is possible to deliver safe in-person education It’s infuriating to know Matt Meyer says kids can’t wear masks when kids in his preschool wear them all day long.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently determined that reopening schools for in-person instruction is safe for children and teachers. Earlier this month, Berkeley Unified School District reached a deal with the Berkeley Federation of Teachers to reopen the schools later this month or in April on the condition that teachers and staff can be vaccinated.

The agreement also calls for teachers and staff to be tested for COVID-19 every couple of weeks and would ask parents to also be tested bi-weekly.

Schools would be opened in stages under the agreement.

Transitional kindergarten and kindergarten through second grade under a hybrid model would start as early as March 29, while grades 3-8 and 10-12 would begin as early as April 12 and April 17, respectively, depending on how fast the city makes additional vaccine doses available.

Teachers that are in high-risk categories or have immediate family in a high-risk category, according to CDC guidelines, would be permitted to continue remote work.

Some came to the aid of Meyers and his position. Parent Mara Kolesas, a former PTA Berkeley Council president, agreed with Meyers that following him and his young daughter crossed a line:

“I do not agree with it at all. For me, you don’t need to attack people personally, you need to address it politically. When you start getting personal, you mix up dimensions, and you don’t get to discuss the real thing. “Here, the real thing is (Meyer) put fear before science, and the right of teachers before the right of kids. That’s the issue.”

The founder of the activist organization Reopen California Schools said Meyers is an example of why they are calling for schools across California to be opened. Jonathan Zachreson said:

“It’s (what the group is arguing) completely opposite of what he’s pushing. So why is that safe for him and those people who work there (at the preschool), but not for all of the kids in Berkeley Unified and the teachers? The answer is: It is safe.”

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