THE CHIEF is the most important pro-labor publication in New York City, focused on municipal government and civil servants, as well as issues affecting New York State and Federal employees. All NYC labor leaders read this publication. They have just published New York Teachers For Choice (NYTFC) steering committee member Michael Kane’s letter on the importance of safe guarding student and teacher DNA in the era of in-school COVID testing.
NYTFC wishes to thank THE CHIEF for publishing this critical and timely letter to the editor. We also wish to thank Joseph Mugivan for all of his help and support of NYTFC; it was his suggestion to have us reach out to THE CHIEF. Mugivan is a former NYC Teacher who became a whistleblower when he discovered toxic fumes were running through the ventilation systems of multiple NYC school buildings causing students and teachers to become very ill. He is a working class hero and inspiration to so many. Read Mugivan’s letter to the editor in THE CHIEF from September 18th – Worse Hazard Than Covid
GUARD TEACHER AND STUDENT DNA
To the Editor: Throughout the history of education, the commercialization and extraction of value from public schools for private gain has been an issue progressives have struggled to resist. Today we face yet another challenge of private entities trying to extract value from public education, but this time that extraction is of student and teacher DNA.
This October the Department of Education has begun mandatory in-school COVID testing for students and teachers. While the city and union believe such testing is going to keep our schools safe, it appears everyone involved in negotiating this deal has forgotten to keep student and teacher DNA safe.
DNA is the oil of the 21st century.
The value of one’s own DNA in the next 5, 10, or 20 years cannot even be estimated. Catalogs of DNA hold extremely high monetary value. For this reason, I have never sent a swab sample to ancestry.com or 23&Me because I know they would own my DNA for their own private capitalist use, and I am not ok with this.
In the same light, the company that NYC has contracted with to perform the in-school COVID testing, Fulgent Genetics, owns a “proprietary catalog of genetic information.” It appears that teacher and student DNA from COVID testing swab samples are going to end up in Fulgent’s genetic catalog. This is problematic for thousands of teachers and parents.
The post-COVID world is unprecedented.
I know the city and the union are working hard to create a safe situation for our schools in this new world. But in this new reality, we cannot ignore the need to safeguard the medical and privacy concerns of teachers and parents. Furthermore, we must never allow a private capitalist Biotech company to exploit the needs of a public education system yearning for safety and security.
I would like to ask Michael Mulgrew, the president of my union, to reach out to me as a dues-paying union member so we can have a discussion about protecting medical and privacy concerns of UFT membership–as well as students–now and in the future. I know how chaotic and busy things are for Mr. Mulgrew and the school system right now, but this is not a trivial issue. It is absolutely critical to get this right.
In the post-COVID world, we are going to have to think deeply and differently to ensure we cover all areas of concern for all stakeholders effectively.
NYC Public School Teacher, UFT Member, and steering committee member for www.nyteachersforchoice.org