The president of the Pasco Association of Educators (PAE) in Washington state, Scott Wilson, claimed that re-opening schools for in-person learning is “white supremacy.” He also said that concerns about students’ mental health are an example of “white privilege.”
The Chicago Teachers Union made similar comments months ago, claiming that the re-opening of schools is both “racist” and “sexist.”
Wilson’s comments were recorded during one of the board of education’s Zoom meetings.
Wilson compared efforts to reopening school to the riot that took place at the United States Capitol Building on January 6th.
“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?” Wilson asked. “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 speak of equity, we speak of care of all students, yet we listen and attend to voices saying ‘Reopen everything, I’m free to breathe,’ supporting white privilege,” he added.
“[Parents] complain their children are suicidal without school or sports,” Wilson continued. “As a father, daily surviving the suicide of my son, I find these statements ignorant and another expression of white privilege.”
But concerns over students’ mental health amid Covid-19 shutdowns are entirely valid. School administrators across the nation note that students may be resilient academically, but they depend of social interaction during these formative years.
“Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in,” the New York Times reported Sunday. “The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus’s spread.”
“Mental health problems account for a growing proportion of children’s visits to hospital emergency rooms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” a Washington Post report said last week. “From March, when the pandemic was declared, to October, the figure was up 31 percent for those 12 to 17 years old and 24 percent for children ages 5 to 11 compared with the same period in 2019.”