FRANKLIN COUNTY, WA — The president of a local teacher union in the Pasco School District said he is opposed to reopening schools because it is a form of “white supremacy and white privilege” and implored the school board to keep students in remote learning despite recommendations that children return to in-person learning.
Scott Wilson, president of the Pasco Association of Educators (PAE), argued in a bizarre rant during a Jan. 12 virtual school board meeting that it was racist to have students return to classrooms and that concerns about student suicides from pandemic-induced depression simply stem from “white privilege.”
He invoked nearly everything except data and scientists who confirm that students thrive with in-person learning and are in the low-risk group for contracting COVID-19.
A WA teacher's union president says reopening schools is an example of "white supremacy," concern over a child's mental health or suicide risk is "white privilege," and push to reopen schools is like rioters pushing to enter the U.S. Capitol.— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) January 13, 2021
READ: https://t.co/QxFazq2Taz pic.twitter.com/ny50MEZG7p
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated report on Jan. 8 and recommended how officials should decide opening up for in-person learning:
“School officials should make decisions about school opening and about staying open for in-person learning based on CDC’s Indicators for Dynamic Decision-making.
“The many benefits of in-person schooling should be weighed against the risks of spreading COVID-19 in the school and community.
“Working with States, Tribes, Localities, and Territories (STLT), schools can weigh levels of community transmission and their capacity to implement appropriate mitigation measures in schools to protect students, teachers, administrators, and other staff.”
As @tacomaschools resumes in-person learning starting Jan. 19, school zones beacons will flash before and after school in certain locations. Please slow down, drive a maximum of 20 MPH, and pay special attention when in these zones.— City of Tacoma (@CityofTacoma) January 16, 2021
Visit https://t.co/PYphdRz4Y4 for more info. pic.twitter.com/xslrY5Yggu
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The CDC also noted:
“While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Children, like adults, who have COVID-19 but have no symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) can still spread the virus to others.
"A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in-person classes at K-12 schools *DO NOT* appear to lead to increases in COVID-19 when compared with areas that have online-only learning."https://t.co/sqcuLWSZ7U— Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) January 14, 2021
“Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all. However, some children can get severely ill from COVID-19. They might require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe. In rare cases, they might die.”
“Close the bars and keep the schools open,” Dr. Anthony Fauci says, adding that while there is no solution that is “one size fits all,” the “best way to ensure the safety of the children in school is to get the community level of the spread low.” https://t.co/th9oAKhHYa pic.twitter.com/pDuTdQ0Vfp— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 29, 2020
Last November, Anthony Fauci, an infectious diseases expert and top advisor to the White House on the COVID-19 pandemic, said that he was for closing bars and restaurants but reopening schools. He told ABC News reporter Martha Raddatz:
“The default position should be to try as best as possible, within reason, to keep the children in school, to get them back to school.”
President-elect Joe Biden is unveiling a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to speed vaccine rollout, steady the economy and reopen schools. The plan includes $1,400 checks for individuals, on top of $600 provided in the last COVID-19 bill. https://t.co/eEFpoo0zTM— The Associated Press (@AP) January 14, 2021
The Biden administration also supports opening schools up. Brian Deese, the incoming director of Biden’s National Economic Council, said keeping schools closed hurts parents, especially women:
“We need to get the schools open so that parents, and particularly women, who are being disproportionately hurt in this economy, can get back to work.”
When it comes to COVID learning loss, a recent NWEA study found that in the fall, students in grades 3–8 performed similarly in reading to same-grade students in fall 2019, but about 5 percentile points to 10 percentile points lower in math.
What Should School Accountability Look Like in a Time of COVID-19? https://t.co/RsIcTmgkH6— Jeffrey A Hinton (@JeffreyAHinton) January 19, 2021
After introducing himself, Wilson addresses the board at time marker 18:45 of the meeting. He politicizes the student-learning issue immediately by mentioning people breaking into the Capitol building earlier this month and others who have held rallies questioning pandemic lockdowns:
“There are decisions to be made. You stand on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol as people break down barriers and head to the doors. Do you follow? You stand at the governor’s mansion. The crowd breaks down barriers to enter the grounds. Do you follow or do you choose a different way?
“We must not ignore the culture of white supremacy and white privilege. We have seen it in the ‘free to breathe, reopen everything’ rodeos and rallies that received county commissioner support. The same commissioner directs our health district.”
Recent remarks from the president of a #WashingtonState #Teachers union have led to public criticism.— NTD News (@news_ntd) January 19, 2021
Despite warnings of children’s #MentalHealth, he said that opening #Schools is a form of white privilege and supremacy.https://t.co/522CEw4QCG
Wilson then claims “no one wants remote learning,” but then insists that it is the only acceptable option for students, teachers and parents:
“No one wants remote learning. No one wants remote learning, but it is the right thing to do.”
Wilson then brings up “equity” issues and blames some for spreading the virus:
“We know the equity concerns. Virus transmission is high, headed higher with so many ignoring and avoiding measures to stop the spread.”
We need to vaccinate our teachers and other school staff. They need to be a top priority as school districts open, like here on Bainbridge. It’s unethical to ask school staff to return to in-person learning unvaccinated.— stina (@stina0812) January 19, 2021
Wilson says the board should continue its “pause” of in-person learning and that it would benefit everyone:
“Remote learning is the right decision. You’ve moved forward as the health district removes the barricades for you. You could choose a different way.
“You could move to pause in-person learning . You could ask for a new path that benefits all, not some. You can have the discussion and vote. You could choose a different way.”
Since the start of the pandemic, multi-generational homes have increased by 61 percent. Pew Research Center found that around 6 in 10 adults who have moved since last March say they relocated to a family member’s home. Of those, 41 percent moved in with their parents or in-laws, 4 percent moved in with an adult child or in-law and 16 percent moved in with another family member.
Wilson raises a concern about the resurgence of multi-generational homes containing people of various ages, but ends up blaming white, privileged people who, according to him, want to reopen everything and put people of color at risk:
“Students are not coming to school. They live in multi-generational homes and have lost family members.
“We speak of equity. We speak of care of all students, and yet we listen and attend the voices saying, ‘Reopen everything’ and ‘free to breathe’ supporting white privilege.”
Can Schools Require the COVID-19 Vaccine? Education, Equity, and the Courts | Bill of Health https://t.co/0Fq8y9fYBC— Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics (@bermaninstitute) January 19, 2021
As the son of a preacher man, Wilson then recalls his father’s political activism and how it incensed “white supremacists” in his hometown:
“My family had to leave the Tri-Cities in ’66. As minister of the first Presbyterian Church of Kennewick, Dad had the audacity to say Jesus Christ would not support a sign telling blacks ‘Stay out of Kennewick after dark.’
“He traveled registering black voters in the south, and white supremacists here were outraged. He made the right decision.”
Wilson claimed that parents are emailing the board and calling the district’s teachers names:
“You receive the same emails as I calling teachers lazy or comparing teachers to store clerks.”
Disturbingly, Wilson downplayed parental reports of children feeling suicidal during the past few months of lockdown:
“They complain their children are suicidal without school or sports.”
Teachers Unions Fail Science – Schools rarely spread COVID-19. Studies on tens of thousands of people found "no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus." https://t.co/ySrrdk8vXz— super czar (@Kristokoff) January 19, 2021
Wilson then said he experienced the suicide of his own son, but was appalled at the concerns of other “white privilege” parents who fear their child may kill themself:
“As a father daily surviving the suicide of my son, I find these statements ignorant and another expression of white privilege.”
My Em returns to in-person learning— Aundrea Self (@AundreaSelf) January 19, 2021
for the first time since March 2020. We’re a wee bit nervous, but she’s so excited to be back in class with friends
in @StarkvilleSD. 😷🐝 pic.twitter.com/dnilpfeoBZ
In conclusion, Wilson reiterated that students should continue remote learning despite data, science, vaccines and mental-health concerns showing that in-person learning is the ideal choice for children. To strengthen his argument, Wilson mentioned sendition for good measure:
“Huge daily death tolls from this pandemic, seditious attacks at our Capitol [building], plus a new, more transmittable strain of the virus while our case numbers are rising again — you have the authority to hit pause, allow time to find a way forward through the end of the year.
“You could choose a different way. Thank you members of the board and Superintendent Whitney.”
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