A local teachers union president in Washington claimed this week that reopening schools is an act of “white supremacy.”
The Pasco School District #1 school board was considering a return to in-person learning, a move teachers unions across the country generally oppose.
KTTH’s Jason Rantz reported Scott Wilson, president of the Pasco Association of Educators (PAE), argued that it was racist to have students return to classrooms:
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
Citing the Capitol riot, Wilson said the school district “must not ignore the culture of white supremacy and white privilege,” and claimed it was also evident in the rallies to reopen schools.
“No one wants remote learning, but it is the right thing to do,” he continued, before using an analogy that the local health department “removed the barriers” to reopen schools and that was similar to the protesters removing barriers at the U.S. Capitol.
“Students are not coming to school. They live in multi-generational homes and have lost family members,” Wilson said.
“We speak of equity, we speak of care of all students and yet we listen and tend to the voices saying, ‘Reopen everything. I’m free to breathe,’ supporting white privilege,” he argued.
The union president rejected the argument that school closures have had a negative impact on student mental health.
“You receive the same emails as I calling teachers lazy or comparing teachers to store clerks. They complain their children are suicidal without school or sports,” Wilson said.
“As a father daily surviving the suicide of my son, I find these statements ignorant and another expression of white privilege.”
School districts across the country have reported “a surge” in student suicides during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Fox 5, Nevada’s Clark County School District confirmed “they lost 11 students in one semester.”
“As you close in on our community, our schools, and our families, and our children, we see that there is an increased risk for a lot of sources of pain,” Dr. Michelle Paul told the news station.
“One source of pain could be health anxiety, another could be social isolation, frustration that comes from struggling to access services through school. Or struggling in school because the remote learning modality doesn’t quite suit you.”
The Washington Post reported 1-in-4 young adults “have struggled with suicidal thoughts since the coronavirus hit.”
Wilson urged the school board to remain closed “through the end of the year.”
The Pasco district responded to Wilson’s remarks without addressing them, according to KFLD:
Pasco School District leadership has received several messages from members of the community regarding public comments made at the board meeting on January 12, 2021. Many people have expressed that they were offended by certain comments and have called on the district to take action.
The public comment portion of a school board meeting is a designated limited public forum in which members of the community may express their personal opinions on topics relevant to district business. The district does not endorse or condone any individual’s viewpoint.
Pasco School District recognizes that the public comments have created controversy and are seen by some to be divisive. As a public school district in service to the entire community, our focus is to find a path forward that honors and respects the wide range of beliefs, opinions, and positions of our patrons.
In December, Wilson told the school board that a survey of union members found 80 percent said “they don’t feel safe returning to classrooms,” KNDO reported.