To the editor:

According to news reports, for much of the past year, about half of all public schools have been, or now are, closed. Many of the others are only partly open, offering in-person classes only two or three days a week. The reason given is concerns about COVID. From the students I have talked to, online learning, for most students, is very ineffective compared to in-class instruction. This includes college students, who often spend their days in their dorms watching computer zoom classes. Many observers feel this has put most students behind for at least a year, and many will never catch up.

The main force behind blocking reopening, including in Chicago and Los Angeles, is the teachers unions. Most experts deem the schools safe if CDC precautions are adopted. In the last year, I have been honored to serve as a chapel presenter in over a dozen Christian schools, all of which were open for in-class instruction without any problems.

I inquired about COVID issues and, as far as the administrators were aware, no infections occurred due to school involvement. Parents became infected in a few cases, and their children were quarantined, preventing virus spread into the school. The Christian school administrators I talked to concluded no legitimate reason existed to stop schools from having in-class instruction, including government schools. In fact, no small number of students have either transferred to private schools or are preparing to do so next year due to their negative experiences with public schools.

The National Education Association (NEA) teachers union has long supported radical leftist ideology, including forced income redistribution. One study quoted former NEA Executive Secretary, Samuel M. Lambert, admitting the “NEA will become a political power second to no other … NEA will organize this profession … into logical operational units that can move swiftly and effectively with power unmatched by any other organization in the nation.” This has been my experience as an NEA member for most of my over 40 years as a college professor. Required union membership cost me over $20,000. They openly opposed all of my efforts to make substantial education improvements.

I learned the hard way that the focus of the NEA has largely been on improving faculty salaries and reducing their workload. More money and less work. They have staunchly opposed merit pay to reward exceptional teaching, research, and service performance. The NEA has also actively opposed both private and religious schools, in spite of the fact that their student performance is consistently from one to two grades superior to government schools. I have published three 400-page books on religious discrimination in academia, documenting in detail over 200 cases. In all cases I studied, the NEA refused to support teachers, even those with valid documented claims of illegal discrimination, and in some cases, they even supported the school discriminating against teachers.

Even leading educator Dr. Ben Carson has slammed teachers unions for refusing to return to in-person classes. He says teachers unions are committing “lifelong devastation” because they refuse to put the children first. The problem is that the NEA ignores what the science shows about returning to in-school instruction. An hour-long zoom class does not make up for the many missed hours in a class with a live teacher. My experience confirms the fact that the NEA has been, and continues to be, a major impediment to a good education.

Jerry Bergman

Montpelier, Ohio

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