Parents are outraged by a teachers' union official's hypocrisy
A video showing the president of Berkeley's teachers' union — after refusing to send teachers back to school for in-class learning — dropping his daughter off at an in-person preschool has outraged parents in reliably leftist Berkeley, California. This show of hypocrisy and elitism was too much for them.
A group calling itself "Guerilla Momz" has posted just two videos, but they're powerful. The first, posted five days ago, focuses on a January 20 statement from Matt Meyer, the president of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers:
Public health officials have been saying that schools can open safely in the red tier if there is rigorous adherence to risk mitigation practices such as mask wearing and social distancing, and community transmission as well. But these are kids. They don't rigorously adhere to anything. Teachers are asking for a more conservative tier for reopening because of our real-life expertise in classroom management. Teachers and caregivers know that kids will sometimes follow the rules and sometimes they won't. Real life children do not keep their masks on. They do not keep distance from each other or their teachers. Given the realities of working with real children in-person, we need to account for the inevitable lapses in risk mitigation practices by choosing a standard of lower transmission for re-opening.
This video got almost no views. What set the Berkeley parent community on fire was the video that Guerilla Momz posted three days ago. To ominous music, it shows a sign on a gate in Berkeley, California, on February 18. The sign notifies people that the Berkeley Unified School District has closed the "entire field and campus" for 24 hours a day "until further notice." Over still shots of empty hallways and classrooms, text banners state:
Berkeley public schools have been blocked from reopening for a *year*. Thousands of our children are suffering learning loss, social isolation, and mental health breakdowns.
And suddenly, there's live footage of a masked man walking while holding the hand of a blurred out small child. "Meet Matt Meyer, president of Berkeley Teachers Union. He takes his child to private school every weekday while blocking Berkeley from opening schools because 'it is not safe.'" The video also captures the fact that as Meyer walks his toddler to her preschool, he's wearing a hoodie that has emblazoned on the back the words "Berkeley Federation of Teachers Local 1078."
When the video shifts to Meyer, freed from childcare, walking back to his car, it reiterates that "our children are suffering learning loss, social isolation, and mental health breakdowns." It then shows an empty playground and demands, "Open our public schools now. Fulltime. In person. Not just for your child. For every child."
This video exploded on the internet yesterday. In addition to over 200,000 views, it got written up in the local papers, the local PBS station, Tucker Carlson, the New York Post, and even England's Daily Mail (which, as always, has the most detailed coverage). And of course, there are the responses to the video on the internet:
— Leya Leydiker (@leyaleydiker) March 1, 2021
Teachers unions need to be disbanded immediately. Give students the money to make their own decisions. These people don’t believe what they are pushing, it’s for power.— Brian Gress (@bgresshrh) February 28, 2021
Stop harming our children! Fund the students.
Wow, is this for real? The hypocrisy is staggering. #openschoolsnow— CG (@ChristinaGrada1) February 28, 2021
Just shocked at how brazen these people are. Shows how entitled they are. As if this isn’t something ppl would figure out.— Ilana (@NYC_essentialSW) February 28, 2021
Thank you for posting this. To the naysayers, Berkeley parents have watched the BFT move so many goalposts it isn’t funny. The hypocrisy of this is hysterical. Who needs daycare now...— sidefree (@sidepenja) March 1, 2021
Parents who have had their lives put on hold as their children struggle at home with the travesty that is distance learning are righteously angry. (I happen to think that much of public school education is also a travesty, but that's a subject for a different post.)
Meyer pushed back, claiming that the video was "very inappropriate" and that, despite his daughter being completely blurred, it intruded on her privacy. He also insisted that she needed to go to a private preschool because there were "no public options for kids her age."
What Meyer seems to miss is that, because of his stand on in-person teaching, there are no public-school options for kids of any age in the Berkeley public school district. He also insisted that the difference was one of scale — a tiny preschool versus a big public school — but that's weak sauce when one considers that there is no evidence that schools are dangerous COVID vectors.
People will tolerate a person's bad ideas if he lives with the consequences of those ideas. The outrage greeting Meyer's lifestyle choices reflects a growing sense, even among Berkeley residents, that the people controlling their destinies in very unpleasant ways have no intention of abiding by their own rules.
Image: Matt Meyer. YouTube screen grab.