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What are the ethical obligations of a school district and the teachers’ union to its students during the pandemic?

Cancel Culture at Work Again

It appears the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education (SFUSD) has plenty of time to vote on changing the names of schools but not enough to ensure that the districts’ schools can open safely. Rather than spend time figuring out the best (safest) way to open during the pandemic, the SFUSD decided instead to spend countless hours coming up with 44 name changes because they don’t like some act of their namesake. We’re talking about names of Presidents – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – and even icons of S.F. politics like Diane Feinstein.

The action by the SFUSD is another example of the cancel culture at work. It’s gotten to the point where political correctness is the litmus test for whether a person is acceptable to a certain segment of society that, in many cases, does not represent the majority of those in society affected by their actions.

The politically correct police take it upon themselves to cancel someone who has been viewed as an essential part of our history for hundreds of years. In the process, they seek to shun the guilty party and close the minds of our kids to having an open and free debate about controversial issues. Instead, the SFUSD and, indeed, all school districts around the country should be using these events as a teachable moment. Why are we now questioning the acts of icons of past years?

By cancelling those in the past who have committed “crimes against humanity,” the politically correct seek to cancel the votes of millions of Americans who voted to keep the individual being cancelled in office, such as Diane Feinstein. So, the will of the voter can be undone by a capricious act of those in power.

The position of the SFUSD is to go after white supremacists, supremacist symbols, and others who allegedly offended some group of people such as native Americans.

Here are the standards shared by the advisory committee for cancellation:

  • Anyone directly involved in the colonization of people.
  • Slave owners or participants in enslavement.
  • Perpetrators of genocide or slavery.
  • Those who exploit workers/people.
  • Those who directly oppressed or abused women, children, queer, or transgender people.
  • Those connected to any human rights or environmental abuses.
  • Those who are known racists and/or white supremacists and/or espoused racist beliefs.

Perhaps we should include in the list any politician or government authority that takes an action beyond the scope of their duties or those not conforming to the majority of citizens’ point of view in their districts. That would include all SFUSD members. SFUSD

The sad part of it is the SFUSD should be working to get kids back to school. There is no evidence of community spread in schools that have gone back to in-person classes. Our young students are losing valuable time in learning. They are already about one-year behind others such as kids in China, our most serious threat to remaining the number one economy in the world.

The S.F. Teachers Union doesn’t want teachers to return to the classroom because of concern about the spread of the coronavirus. Some claim they won’t do so until and unless everyone is vaccinated, a process that may take until the end of this year. This is irresponsible. Teachers have an ethical obligation to return to the classroom. School Districts, like in S.F. and Chicago, have a responsibility to work towards that goal and stop spending time on politically correct matters.

Everyone is at risk of getting the virus. Health care workers don’t say they won’t treat people in hospitals who may have the virus or those already infected. Restaurant owners don’t say they will stay closed because they are afraid a customer may have the virus. In fact, they welcome the opportunity to serve the public, something the SFUSD and SF Teachers Union don’t care about.

Speaking about teachable moments, the actions of the SFUSD ought to be examined from the perspective of: What are the ethical obligations of a school district and teachers union to its students during the pandemic?

Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on January 29, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.

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