Last September, California schools were nowhere near the right track to reopen. Especially hurt by “zoom” education were children from disadvantaged backgrounds and children with special needs. Both of these categories of children require in-person attention for their development, and online classes did not meet these children’s diverse and urgent needs.
Despite the call of California families that schools re-open in the fall, California Gov. Gavin Newsom did next to nothing.
For this, you can thank the state’s teachers’ unions, which care more about “social justice” causes than they do about children.
Epidemiological studies show that children (are) less likely to transmit COVID-19 than adults, and that schools are not particularly dangerous places for the spread of the disease. Even though the science shows teachers were at minimal risk, the teachers’ unions — including the United Teachers Los Angeles and California Teachers’ Association — used the virus as an excuse and demanded a “wealth tax,” defunding of charter schools and single-payer healthcare before they would permit their teachers to return to work.
Moreover, California’s Constitution only requires that children have a certain quantity of education, in the form of minutes spent in instruction. In doesn’t address the quality of that education.
But even by this low standard, whatever the quality of education was prior to COVID-19 restrictions, distance learning wasn’t working. California was causing more harm to its students by not opening schools.
To assist California’s children and families, the Freedom Foundation, on behalf of several concerned parents, filed suit in Shasta County against Newsom and several other school officials, including Shasta County Superintendent Jim Cloney and California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
The suit was initially filed on September 11, 2020.
In the complaint, the plaintiffs sought declarative and injunctive relief to prevent the enforcement of the governor’s orders shutting down schools. As part of the argument to reopen schools, the Freedom Foundation cited studies, periodicals, an epidemiologist, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics and numerous other sources to show that:
- in-person instruction five days a week presents minimal risk of transmission;
- there are greater risks of transmission inherent with part-time schooling as opposed to full time;
- in-person instruction strengthens a child’s mental health and self-esteem; and,
- in-person instruction provides access to vital mental health and social services like speech therapy and physical or occupational therapy.
In response, and in a complete reversal of the original plan that shut down schools, Gov. Newsom has now allowed for the opening of local Shasta high schools for in-person instruction two days a week and has opened elementary schools for in-person instruction five days a week.
Further, Newsom has announced a school reopening plan urging school districts to reopen in February.
Most importantly, the accompanying rationale behind the governor’s re-opening plan for schools indicated a change in heart regarding the risks of in-person instruction, admitting that:
- children get COVID-19 less often than adults;
- when the do get sick, youngsters get less sick than adults;
- children do not seem to be major sources of transmission—either to each other or to adults;
- the social-emotional skills cultivated in the youngest grades are foundational for future wellbeing;
- in-school learning results in lower rates of anxiety and depression;
- higher rates of immunizations; and,
- greater opportunity to learn social and emotional skills — such as self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and responsible decision-making.
Perhaps not coincidentally, these new revelations were identical to many of plaintiffs’ claims in the lawsuit. Newsom had previously expressed that these very same assertions were “false and irrelevant.”
With education moving swiftly toward in-person learning, the Freedom Foundation and the concerned parents and children involved in the Shasta County lawsuit moved to dismiss the lawsuit as a job well done.
During these difficult times, the Freedom Foundation has never backed away from its responsibility to the community to ensure the government did not encroach on the basic rights and liberties of the people the government is supposed to serve.
The Freedom Foundation’s fight for school re-openings is one such example.