Unmasking Children: TEACHERS FOR CHOICE Responds to Liz Glass Instagram Post

by Michael Kane

6-17-21

Recently Liz Glass has announced on her Instagram account that she no longer supports TEACHERS FOR CHOICE (TfC) . In doing so she made (at least) one completely false statement that must be addressed immediately.

Glass wrote, “It is unacceptable to demand choice for themselves, yet accept forced medical procedures – mask mandates – on children.”

We have done no such thing.

Our organizational position is to immediately unmask pre-K, K, and 1st-grade students everywhere right now! All other mask mandates – for both adults and children – we believe need to be debated and determined on the local level, not by Cuomo’s fiat. Additionally there are unique differences between urban and suburban school districts that I hope to explain in this post.

Glass is saying we must 100% forbid mask mandates in all schools. Many TfC members and supporters agree with her, and all of us want to eventually get to that point. However Glass does not work in the NYC public school system, nor does she currently have children in it. She completely misses that there is another issue at play here – remote learning.

In NYC, the mayor has said 100% of students are returning to in-person learning in September, but as a teacher in the system I can tell you that is *not* a guarantee – not at all! Many forces are still pushing for a remote option next school year.

Over 60% of Black parents in NYC do not want to send their children back to in-person learning. I have spoken to many Black and Brown parents, including those of my students. I have spoken to some who are immunocompromised, are not getting vaccinated because they want more scientific data before they make that decision, and are scared to death to send their child back to school. I am extremely sympathetic to these parents and the tens to thousands just like them in the NYC public school system. 

How are we going to get these families to send their children back to school?

Are we going to get them to come back by telling them, “Look people – school’s open, there is no remote option, you have to send your kid back in-person, and no one is required to wear a mask any longer.”

Do you think that’s going to work?? 

It won’t, and it will be seen as inherently racist. 

The Black community in New York does not trust the school system, they do not trust the medical system, and they certainly have plenty of reasons not to trust either. If we don’t regain their trust they will not return to school in September and a permanent remote academy will be created in NYC. Such permanent remote academies already exist all throughout the country now and have existed long before COVID in places such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and many more states. UFT President Michael Mulgrew is currently calling for a remote academy to be created in NYC and he is arguably the most powerful person in the NYC school system right now.

Finally, I do not feel I or TfC can speak on behalf of every community that makes up the NYC public school system. We are far too diverse for that. The parents who are publicly calling to end all masking are 90% white, as am I. I appreciate and respect their opinion. In fact, we gave our platform to Jenna Miller, an 11-year-old 5th grader from Ulster County, NY who called for ALL mask mandates to end in front of UFT headquarters! Clearly we think her voice needs to be heard!

However, most parents calling to end all mask mandates are not talking to Black and Brown community members. I am, and I can tell you they have mixed and varied views on the full reopening of NYC schools. Parents and their children are scared to come back. I know this for sure. They tell me all the time.

I am talking to people on all sides of this issue and it is critical that we allow everyone to speak, to tell their stories, express their fears, and BE HEARD even when we disagree with them – ESPECIALLY when we disagree!

There are so many people who want TfC to shut up because they don’t agree with us, which I find repulsive. It flies in the face of free speech, fundamental rights and true progressive liberal values, and I simply refuse to treat anyone else that way. When an immunocompromised mother tells me she is scared to send her child back to public school because she decided to not yet get vaccinated, I hear her and I feel her pain. If she decides to send her child back to high school in September because everyone will be wearing masks that may be a compromise I (and many others) will make to help ease the process of full school reopening and to help prevent the Big Tech takeover of education in NYC.

6 thoughts on “Unmasking Children: TEACHERS FOR CHOICE Responds to Liz Glass Instagram Post

  1. I hear you and I understand that people are hesitant and scared to come back to school for their own personal reasons. Our children and teachers can not put our own desires and freedoms aside because of someone else’s fear. WhAt about all the children who are suffering from wearing a mask. WhT about those teachers and students that dread going back and have anxiety going back bc of that mask again. All I want to fight for is a CHOICE. If you want to wear it great, if you don’t great, but we need a choice. It is not ok to strip us of our and our kids rights because don’t feel comfortable. It goes both ways.

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  2. Agree with the above comment and your point regarding big tech’s takeover of public education and getting children back in classrooms. However, if parents are that much in fear, then it is incumbent upon all vested parties (unions, districts, BOE, NYSDOE, teachers, et al) to impress upon the fact that schools are safe, not a high-risk place of transmission, and that masks should be a choice due to its diversity (health status of all individuals, right to choose, etc). Families who are ranked in fear and choose to wear a mask, then should understand that they’re being given that choice and helped to understand that “if their mask works”, then their choice to wear one does not supersede another’s choice not to. It will come down to a PR game just like everything ride with all of this.

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    1. I largely agree with what you are saying.

      The PR effort you talk about, so far, does NOT seem to be occurring.

      Many of the parties you refer to who SHOULD be involved in this effort currently are not.

      Since they are not doing it — what do we do??

      TEACHERS FOR CHOICE would like there to be NO MASK MANDATE in any school and for it all to be by choice. In NYC that is not going to happen by September because all of the vested parties you mention are not on the same page and have different agendas.

      Thank you so much for your reply – very well thought out, valuable addition to the narrative.

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  3. Michelle thank you so much for this comment! Keep fighting for what you believe is right!

    When discussing children suffering from wearing masks after one full year it is clear the biggest damage is happening to 4, 5 and 6 year olds.

    Because of this reality, teachers for choice is calling for all Pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade students to be unmasked immediately. These students cannot handle the physical, hygienic, or social demands of wearing a mask. The damage happening to their language acquisition skills may be irreparable.

    In contrast, children seven years old and up can navigate the physical, hygienic, and social restrictions that masks place on them better than those younger than them.

    This does not mean teachers for Choice supports masking 7 year olds. What it means is we are now willing to fully push for the unmasking of all children younger than 7 because there is such an intensely important need for this right away. The unmasking of all others is certainly important, but the damage being done there is nothing compared to what’s happening to our babies.

    Please keep fighting for exactly what you want to fight for, teachers for Choice supports it greatly! But in this very strange world we find ourselves in sometimes we have to pick and choose our battles.

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  4. Micheal I totally disagree with you regarding the mask NO child should be wearing a mask
    Listen to the science and the doctors
    If we have parent that fear going back then we need to educate them regarding mask and how they are not effective
    I’m very surprised on what you wrote regarding
    Children going back to school with mask
    Please read the reports regarding mask and the harm they bring
    I will not support you any longer if you do not mandating no mask for our children
    Read the science and listen to the doctors
    Mask harm you not help
    Especially children

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    1. Thank you for your reply.

      Keep fighting for what you know is right. We support you completely!

      What we want to happen and what will happen in NYC are 2 different things.

      NYC is committed to mask mandates in September and I am convinced nothing can be done to stop that. I hope I am wrong, and I hope you and others prove me wrong. But I just don’t see it happening.

      However getting 4, 5 and 6-year-olds unmasked I think is winnable by September. Additionally, the harm you speak of is greatest for the youngest. That is why we are putting our energy in the current direction.

      Also, we firmly believe mask mandates should be decided on the local level. Getting rid of masking may happen in many areas throughout New York but, sadly, I don’t see any shot at this for this September in NYC.

      I hope you, and many others prove me wrong.

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