slaves of nazi pindostan, stop kidding yourselves

House Speaker Pelosi signals readiness to cut unemployment benefits
Jacob Crosse, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in an interview on PBS NewsHour Tuesday signaled the Demagog Party’s willingness to reduce benefits for the nearly 30m Pindo jobless workers who had been receiving $600/wk in enhanced federal unemployment pay. The jobless benefit, part of the CARES Act, which allocated trillions for the corporations and banks, expired this past week. The federal benefit, along with a moratorium on rental evictions from properties with federally backed mortgages, was allowed to lapse at the end of July, leaving millions in the lurch. Shortly before the expiration of the federal unemployment benefit, the House of Representatives, in a near party-line vote, passed a $694.6b defense appropriations bill for 2021. The bill, overwhelmingly supported by the Demagog Party, included funding for 91 F-35 fighter jets ($9.3b) and nine new Navy ships ($22.3b). Added together, the cost of these 100 pieces of military hardware could provide supplemental jobless benefits for 30m people for nearly two weeks. While both parties worked around the clock for the financial oligarchy and their cratering stock portfolios by passing the CARES Act in late March, now that Wall Street has been rescued, the two big business parties are taking their time in working out the terms for imposing the full brunt on the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic on the backs of the working class. Throughout the PBS interview, Pelosi, with an estimated net worth of $120m, portrayed herself and the Demagog Party as champions of working people. However, when gently pressed by the news anchor, Judy Woodruff, the House speaker signaled the corporate financial elite that the Demagogs were prepared to cut the already inadequate $600/wk benefit, saying:

Let’s find out what we can afford. We will find our common ground.

Mnuchin and Meadows have been meeting daily behind closed doors with Schumer and Pelosi. While the Demagog negotiators have claimed “progress” in the talks, the White House representatives, who had proposed cutting the unemployment supplement to $200/wk, have said the two sides remain far apart. All parties are seeking to pass a new bill that would provide reduced benefits, using the prospect of hunger and homelessness to blackmail workers into returning to virus-infected work sites or take other work at lower pay when their previous jobs have been eliminated. At the end of the interview, Pelosi made clear that the goal of the Demagogs was the same as the Thugs: “reopening” the economy (resuming at full blast the flow of corporate profit) by forcing teachers and students back to school so as to allow “our parents to go to work.” For his part, Trump threatened in a Tuesday press conference to issue an executive order to suspend the payroll tax, the primary source of funding for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He also took the opportunity to lash out against China, claiming that the looming wave of evictions in Pindostan was “China’s fault.” The WSWS spoke to unemployed workers about the consequences of a cutoff or reduction in the federal unemployment supplement. April, a cook from rural northern Illinois, said:

The $600/wk added bonus really did help. We could not have survived without it. It made me realize that everyone needs to be making a basic amount to live and thrive. I was actually getting slightly more with the added money than I was with my paycheck before being unemployed, only because my pay was so low. Now that the benefit is gone, I am still unemployed and my partner now makes way less than he did previously. I went from working one job. Now I can’t find full-time work. I’ll have to work two or three jobs just to get by. And then my partner started a new job and was denied Medicaid because he makes $3/hr too much. He makes $11/hr. We have a little saved up. I hope to stay in my apartment and be able to take care of the necessities, but if I don’t find work before then, I am not sure what we will do once September arrives. I am constantly oscillating between being angry and scared. Everything is so unequal. You have millionaires and billionaires and then you have the rest of us just trying to get by.

A cashier from Virginia who was forced to return to work after the state failed to process her unemployment claim told the WSWS:

I was a cashier, now I am a personal shopper. I applied for unemployment benefits back in April. The benefits never were approved. I had panic attacks fearing for my safety. Luckily for me, my family and girlfriend, who was able to get the expanded benefits, were able to help me with rent throughout the last few months. If it wasn’t for them, I’d have been working throughout this entire pandemic. Two weeks ago, the last bit of money I received from the $1.2k check Trump sent ran out and I was forced to return to work. I’m not sure if I have a compromised immune system, but I had open heart surgery, so I’m worried if I catch this disease. My parents are elderly. I see people in my state socializing and not wearing masks. I’m definitely scared. The fact that I didn’t get any benefits throughout the entire pandemic has really hurt me financially. My girlfriend and I had plans to move into a house together, but that isn’t going to happen now for a long time. This order to get back to work is really tough on people. We’re being forced to take high risks with our health in the middle of a health-care crisis. If someone in the Pindo government had actually done something to help people before this pandemic happened, we wouldn’t be in this situation now.

Bernie Sanders and the incredible shrinking “political revolution”
Genevieve Leigh, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

In late July, former Demagog presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, along with 14 other Demagog congress-critturs, introduced legislation calling for Pindostan to increase the production of masks and distribute them to all Pindos at no cost. The legislation is called “Masks-for-All,” a play off of Sanders’ former proposal of Medicare-for-All. Yesterday, Sanders penned an op-ed in Pindostan Today advertising his bill. In it, he declares:

Coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control. Our solution: Masks for All. It’s a tragedy, and embarrassing, that Pindostan is practically the only major country where the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening by the day. If we are to have any hope of turning this economy around, opening schools safely, and preventing countless more deaths, we must first get this virus under control.

His plan to combat the pandemic is to provide masks for everyone. A number of points should be made in relation to Sanders’ proposal:

  1. There is no doubt that under conditions of a raging global pandemic, every worker in Pindostan and internationally should have access to high-quality masks, at no cost. The productive forces that are needed to carry out such a minor endeavor certainly exist within capitalist society. Providing masks to the population is only the most basic measure that is required to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers and youth. As scientists and health experts have been declaring for months, combatting the pandemic requires the implementation of a whole series of measures: extensive contact-tracing, the production of PPE for hospitals, and universal access to quick-response testing to name just a few. Furthermore, essential workers must be provided with the necessary equipment and training needed in order to carry out their work safely. In any rational (socialist) society, non-essential workers would not be permitted back to work until the pandemic was well under control and even then only with the most advanced and extensive protective and preventative measures in place. Workers would have the assurance that they would have access to free high-quality care if they or a loved one did end up falling ill with the virus. Nothing of the sort is on the agenda. In fact, the completely decrepit character of the capitalist system is perhaps most sharply expressed in the fact that even Sanders’ most pathetic appeal for “masks for all” will more than likely not even make it into the next relief bill.
  2. It is notable that Sanders makes only one reference to the homicidal back-to-work campaign being carried out by Demagogs & Thugs alike. He explains briefly that by one estimate: “widespread use of masks could be worth up to a trillion dollars to our economy by preventing shutdowns and getting people back to work earlier.” This statement is revealing. It exposes the real aim of Sanders’ “masks for all” initiative: to provide a thinly veiled cover for “progressive” politicians like himself to openly support the campaign to force workers back to plants and factories, and students back to school while the pandemic rages unabated. As he says himself, “getting people back to work earlier” will “save trillions.” He leaves out, of course, that the trillions will go to further lining the pockets of the ultra-rich.
  3. Third, Sanders makes no mention of the criminal role he himself has played in the creation of the current crisis. Sanders was an enthusiastic supporter of the bipartisan CARES Act signed by President Trump in late March, which funneled trillions of dollars to Wall Street and Corporate Pindostan. In fact, prior to voting “yes” on the $2.2t packages, Sanders took to the Senate floor to hail the bill as a boon to workers. Once the legislation passed, the focus in the media and the political establishment more broadly began to shift toward an aggressive campaign for a return to work. The massive increase in fictitious capital that has been added to the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet as a result of the CARES Act is, in the final analysis, a claim on real value that must be satisfied through the massive exploitation of the working class. The Pindo Congress is now deliberately blackmailing workers with the specter of poverty, homelessness, and starvation to force workers back into dangerous factories and workplaces. As Sanders himself notes in his op-ed, this campaign is taking place under conditions in which the pandemic is raging out of control in Pindostan.

Sanders writes:

Coronavirus has killed 150k Pindos. States like California, Texas and Florida are registering their highest daily death tolls ever. The economic horrors of this pandemic are also escalating, as our GDP plunges by an annual rate of nearly 33% and $600/wk unemployment benefits expired for 30m workers.

What Sanders describes is only the tip of the iceberg. Last week, food insecurity reached its highest reported level since May, with 30m Pindos reporting they had not had enough to eat at some point in the prior seven days. More than a third of the 44m total Pindo renter households who live in buildings with mortgages backed by the federal government are at risk of eviction. And the number of workers claiming continuing unemployment benefits rose from 16.1m to a staggering 17m for the week ending Jul 18. Pindostan is in the midst of a health, economic, political and social crisis on a scale never seen before, and it is escalating daily. Under such conditions, Sanders’ proposal amounts to less than a Band-Aid for a bullet wound. Sanders’ proposal could be described in many ways: “inept”, “callous”, “pathetic,” all would be fitting and appropriate. However, the most accurate and instructive description might instead be “predictable.” As the WSWS wrote in Feb 2016:

Sanders aims not to create a ‘revolution,’ as he asserts in his campaign speeches, but to prevent one.

Sanders’ calls for a “political revolution” have given way to ever further shifts to the right, abandoning even the pretense of fighting for mild liberal reforms. After announcing that he was dropping out of the presidential race just as coronavirus cases in Pindostan were reaching their first peak and hospitals were being overwhelmed, he endorsed Joe Biden, telling all of his supporters to give it their all for “his good friend Joe.” His capitulation to Biden was followed by an interview with the AP in which he slandered as “ irresponsible ” any of his supporters who failed to campaign for Biden. In response to massive multi-racial and multi-ethnic protests against police brutality across Pindostan and around the world, Sanders was silent. When he did finally address the situation, he called for police officers to receive a pay raise. He mustered only a few mildly-worded tweets regarding Trump’s attempt to carry out a coup that would involve the mobilization of active duty troops to put down the protests and establish a presidential dictatorship. Now, as class antagonisms are reaching a fever pitch, Sanders is doing everything in his power to obscure the class character of society. In the final lines of his Pindostan Today op-ed, Sanders repeats his own version of the worn-out slogan of the ruling class: that “we are all in this together.” He wrote:

In this unprecedented moment in Pindo history we need to come together, government and private sector, manufacturers and workers, scientists, and ordinary citizens, to combat this horrific pandemic.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While tens of millions face hunger, homelessness, and destitution, the upper echelons of society have never had it so good. Pindo billionaires, whose wealth increased by 80.6% between 2010 and 2020, are seeing another windfall, with another 20% increase, a rise of at least $565b, since the pandemic began. The world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has seen his net worth rise $74b since the beginning of 2020 to an estimated $189.3b. Workers and young people have to draw the necessary lessons from the Sanders experience. It is not, at its root, a question of proving the bankruptcy of Sanders as an individual, but more fundamentally the bankruptcy of the political perspective he represents: that of reformism. The capitalist system cannot be reformed. The current political situation within Pindostan and around the world is dire. The lives and livelihoods of millions of workers are at stake. The only way forward for the working class is on the basis of a genuinely revolutionary policy, not a “political revolution” to promote the Demagog Party, but a socialist revolution to overthrow capitalism.

Tropical Storm Isaias causes flooding and power outages across the Pindo east coast
Aaron Murch, WSWS, Aug 8 2020

Tropical Storm Isaias continues to wreak havoc on the Canadian Maritimes with high winds and heavy rain after crashing ashore Monday in North Carolina as a Category 1 Hurricane and moving along the Pindo east coast and into New England Tuesday. The storm is historically significant for its unusual speed. CNN meteorologist Chad Meyers reported that this fast-moving storm means it will take longer to weaken as it moves across vast distances along the Atlantic coast. According to Meyers, this means tornados that drop quickly and cause great devastation in brief periods of time with little warning, often less than 20 minutes. More than a dozen tornadoes were spawned across the mid-Atlantic. Two people in North Carolina were killed Tuesday when a tornado caused by the storm struck a mobile home park in the town of Windsor, at least twelve people were hospitalized. One resident caught in a tornado in North Carolina told CNN reporters about the moment it struck. Desaree Pike said:

We didn’t have a lot of time to react once it finally hit. I mean, it hit all at once. For lack of a better word, it was hell. You don’t really think about anything else but just holding the kids and hoping it doesn’t tear the house up.

The tropical storm caused flooding and power outrages along the coast. From North Carolina and up along the northeastern states, 3m people were without power on Tuesday night according to poweroutage.us. The historic storm surge caused massive flooding in the Cherry Gove neighborhood of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, resulting in street closures and several drivers needing rescue as vehicles became overwhelmed by flood waters. Wind gusts up to 90 mph were reported across the Carolinas, causing massive property damage and dangerous amounts of debris. Trees blowed down and crashed into homes and streets caused severe property damage in the New England area and even New York City reported wind bursts of 70 mph. All along the storm’s path, rainfall has caused flooding on average of 6″ across the east coast and as of Tuesday evening the storm was projected to continue its path up into Canada. Collapsed and flooded homes pose grave danger for millions of residents along the coast. Along with flooding, several housefires were reported in beach communities in North Carolina. On Monday, Oak Island Water Rescue, a volunteer emergency response team, posted on Facebook:

Tonight the Brunswick County beaches suffered a direct hit from Hurricane Isaias. County wide and on Oak Island, there were numerous calls for water rescues, structural fires, structural collapses, and people trapped in houses that were flooding. Storm surge has caused significant damage as has the wind and tornados. The beach front roads were impassable due to high water on much of the island.

Pictures of flooded neighborhoods and streets turned into rivers have spread across several social media platforms on Monday and Tuesday as thousands of affected residents are forced to look to community aid and charity to clean up debris and rebuild destroyed homes in an environment made increasingly dangerous by the coronavirus pandemic. The storm is certain to have an exacerbating effect in areas already ravaged by COVID-19, with thousands forced to evacuate their homes and seek safety with family, friends or in emergency shelters where social distancing measures are nearly impossible. Massive population centers in the Northeast have seen surges in coronavirus cases in recent weeks and nationwide unemployment benefits have dried up causing an imminent eviction crisis in millions of poor and working-class communities. Already there are over 10k eviction cases on file in North Carolina courts. Some 43% of the renters in North Carolina are expected to face eviction or otherwise be unable to pay rent by the end of the month. As thousands are now dealing with storm and tornado damage these numbers are in danger of rising drastically. In North Carolina alone, more than 1.2m workers have filed for unemployment since the beginning of the outbreaks, workers who are now faced with losing their benefits just as the virus is surging in cases amid back to work campaigns pushed by both Demagog & Thug politicians locally and nationally. On Tuesday, over 2,117 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the state along with 26 new deaths. Residents in the affected communities in North Carolina expressed to reporters their dismay at the fight which will be required to gain access to a limited amount of disaster aid. On Tuesday morning Holden Beach resident Jessi Viox told CNN reporters:

Getting ready for Round 2. The eye has moved around us, and now here comes the back end.

Pindo teachers defy threats to cut funding for schools that delay in-person learning
Phyllis Steele, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

image600 Utah teachers and supporters protested Tuesday
(Source: Granite Education Association)

Facing popular outrage over the reckless rush to reopen schools, several large districts, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston and Miami-Dade, Florida, have been forced to start the school year with online learning only. As of July 29, Education Week reported, 20 of the 29 school districts with more than 100k students will reopen with remote learning only. Four of the largest districts, however, including NYC (1.1m students), Chicago (360k students), Hawaii (181k students) and Duval County, Florida (130k students), will require teachers and students to attend school for at least part of the week under a so-called “hybrid/partial” model, which also includes some remote learning. Five large districts, Education Week reported, will hold a full in-person reopening available for all students. These include three in Florida — Hillsborough County (220k), Polk County (101k), Pinellas County (101k) — and two in Texas — Dallas (155k) and Cypress-Fairbanks (116.5k). Millions of students are being sent back to school in medium and smaller districts across Pindostan, even though the numbers of COVID-19 cases are higher in many states across the country than they were when schools were forced to close in mid-March. While politicians from both parties profess concern about the academic and psychological impact of keeping schools closed, their chief concern is getting children out of their homes so their parents can be forced back into factories, warehouses and other workplaces to resume making profits.

Over the next week, several districts in Tennessee, Arizona, California, Florida, Nebraska, Mississippi and Utah will open with full in-person learning. At least nine cases have already been confirmed in Indiana’s schools, which opened last week, and in Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest district in Georgia, 260 school workers have been quarantined after testing positive or being exposed to someone who had. Protests against the unsafe openings continue to spread across the country. On Tuesday, teachers in Granite School District in Salt Lake City, Utah protested. Around 67k students are scheduled to return on August 24 for full in-school learning. About 100 teachers and parents in Columbia, Missouri also protested outside of the school board meeting Tuesday night in an event promoted on Facebook called “Not until it’s safe.” Summing up the opposition by teachers, Mike, a high school teacher in central Michigan told WSWS:

The reason why they are giving each district their individual choice when and how to reopen is that if they mandated that all schools across country go back, it would ignite a huge general strike. They are trying to preempt a strike by placing onus on districts. This whole thing is from Betsy Devos’ playbook. She is the personification of all that’s wrong with education. DeVos and her husband are looking at this as a crisis to be exploited, to advance their campaign for school privatization.

As opposition continues to grow, the Trump administration, Congressional Thugs and various Thug-controlled state legislatures are threatening to reduce or cut funding to schools that do not reopen for in-person instruction. The Senate version of the new stimulus package, dubbed the HEALS Act (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act), commits two-thirds of the proposed $70b in federal school funding only to those schools that reopen for in-person instruction for at least half of their students for half of the week. Schools, along with universities, hospitals and other corporations, would also be granted a five-year waiver that prevents them from being sued for any illness or death related to COVID-19. In Florida, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an order that says by Aug 24, all 67 districts must open bricks and mortar schools at least five days a week for all students. Schools that do not receive state approval for their reopening plans will not be fully funded, the order threatens.

In Texas, another hotspot for the virus, local health departments can close schools if there is an outbreak. However, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ruled that closing schools as a preventive measure, as they did in March, would be against the law. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath warned that district superintendents must offer a semester of in-person learning for high school students after no more than eight weeks of online learning, otherwise districts would forfeit their state funding. At the same time, the superintendents were mandated to implement in-person learning for elementary and middle school students, not hybrid options, or face funding cuts. Several other states, including Arizona, Indiana, South Carolina and Michigan, are threatening to use the financial stick to force cash-strapped schools to reopen. In Michigan, the Republican-controlled state legislature is trying to blackmail teachers to return to the classrooms otherwise their jobs will be given to private interests, including “pods,” where parents who can afford them hire teachers to provide private education to small groups of children, along with online charters, private and parochial schools.

Michigan House Bills 5910 and 5913, called the “Return to Learn” bills, would outsource the jobs of teachers and other instructional staff to non-certified instructors and for-profit companies to replace experienced educators. They would also create a voucher-style system that funnels public school money to parents who send their children to several e-learning providers during the day. The bills would also require benchmark testing three times over the next school year, which will be used to further punish public school districts grappling with already inadequate funding and the public health crisis. In Detroit, the state’s largest school district, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti threatened in a town hall meeting last month that if the district does not offer face-to-face instruction in the fall, it risks losing students to charter schools or suburban districts that do. Vitti also boasted that the school district had received a sharp increase in applications for new teaching positions, an explicit threat to older, higher-paid teachers, many of whom fear returning to the classroom out of health concerns.

The Demagogs have postured as opponents of Thug efforts to use the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis to accelerate school privatization. But the Congressional Demagogs’ federal legislation, dubbed the HEROES Act, would also leave school districts underfunded, forcing them to slash jobs and programs. Under the eight years of the Obama-Biden administration, the economic fallout of the 2008-09 financial crisis was used by the White House to vastly expand charter schools and slash teachers’ jobs and pay. The back-to-school campaign is being enthusiastically supported by Demagog governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo, California’s Gavin Newsom and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer. As opposed to the Thugs, however, the Dems have more closely coordinated the campaign to reopen the schools with the teacher unions, the National Education Association and the Pindo Federation of Teachers, which have spent the last two years desperately trying to prevent the wave of teacher strikes demanding improved school funding, wages and working conditions, from coalescing into a nation-wide strike against both corporate-controlled parties.

Once again, the unions are seeking to divide educators by state and district and prevent a general strike against the homicidal plan to open the schools. That is why teachers, school employees, parents and students must take the initiative in their own hands, through the formation of rank-and-file committees, independent of the unions, in every school and neighborhood. These committees should prepare for a nationwide strike of educators and fight for the broadest support from every section of the working class. Mike, the Michigan teacher, said there was no safe way to reopen schools during the pandemic. He said:

I support a nationwide strike if there is a massive endangering of students’ and teachers’ lives. Say we go from 30 to 15 students and social distance? What about air circulation? No one’s talking about airflow and filtration in schools. But science says this is best for keeping spread of COVID down. Filtration systems are going to cost billions of dollars. I am in the middle of a high school that sits on cinder blocks. The structure of most school buildings is not conducive to having good airflow. I know my high school students, and they are social creatures by nature. Social distancing will not be happening all of the time. Also, who is enforcing it? Not me! How will I teach? Then what is going to happen when they say, hey! We’ve run out of money! It’s about money. As long as it’s coming, things will be fine. When money runs out, that is when people will stop playing nice.

New York educators oppose city and state school reopening plans
Sandy English, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

On Monday, hundreds of NYC teachers, parents and students marched to the city’s Dept of Ed headquarters in lower Manhattan to protest Demagog Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to open public schools in September under conditions of the coronavirus pandemic. The NYC public school system is the largest in Pindostan, with approximately 1.1m students. In conjunction with a National Day of Resistance that featured rallies and car caravans of educators in cities such as Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and Philadelphia to protest the unsafe resumption of classes, rank-and-file teachers marched from the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers near Wall Street carrying body bags and coffins and a mock guillotine with a blade that read “DOE.” Educators on Twitter participated under the hashtag #WeWon’tDieForDOE. One Bronx teacher told the mayor:

Buildings aren’t safe. Your plans are dangerous & unrealistic. You’ve defunded schools.

Another tweeted:

I give my all and do whatever I can for students and families, but I will not die for the DoE.

De Blasio has announced a “hybrid” school program to start on Sep 10. Students will go to classrooms one day and on the next learn remotely at home. Other plans mandate students to attend physical classes and virtual learning on alternate weeks. Schools will close if the number of New Yorkers testing positive for the coronavirus rises beyond 3% of the total number tested. Currently, about 1% of all those tested in NYC are infected with the virus. According to the DOE’s plan, if two or more students or staff members in the same classroom get sick and test positive for COVID-19, the classroom will be shut down and students will switch to remote learning. DOE and city health officials will investigate and the classroom will remain closed for 14 days after the investigation. If two students or staffers in different classrooms get sick with the coronavirus, the school building will close for 24 hours. In this case, according to the DOE, “depending on the outcome” of testing and contact tracing, the building may be closed for 14 days. Each school, according to the plan, will also provide an isolation room for students who feel sick.

Teachers, principals and parents have drawn up scores of lists of unanswered questions about the plan and posted them on blogs and social media. One of the most widespread concerns is the absence of certified nurses. The NYC public school system is lacking, by its own count, over 400 nurses. The de Blasio administration, after cutting $773m from this year’s school budget, has no plans to hire any. In the absence of nurses, educators have asked who will escort sick students to the isolation room and supervise them. Others have asked what the protocols are for testing sick students and if a student’s friends and siblings at other schools will be tested. Another question is whether siblings’ schools will even be notified of a positive test. Educators have asked how often and how thoroughly classrooms will be cleaned. Many have raised concerns about the heating, ventilation & air-conditioning systems in schools, questioning whether they will be able to filter the airborne coronavirus. Others have pointed out that in some buildings, air-conditioning systems are inoperative and classroom windows cannot even be opened. Many teachers have pointed out that the DOE has made no provisions for supplying PPE such as gloves, masks and face-shields. This is in a school system where, like many across Pindostan, draconian budget cuts by both Demagog & Thug politicians have forced teachers to purchase basic school supplies. Principals are unsure if their schools will be regularly supplied with hand sanitizer. No attention has been given by the DOE to building entrance and exit procedures that will ensure social distancing, or safety issues related to emergency procedures such as sheltering in place or fire evacuation.

The premature reopening of the city’s schools will result in a renewed public heath catastrophe similar to the one that peaked in April and May. It will follow essentially the same game plan as the one that allowed the rapid dissemination of the coronavirus throughout the city and beyond in January and February. At that time, the Demagog mayor and governor ignored the best scientific advice for weeks, until it was too late. The teacher unions kept quiet—or actively opposed the shutting of schools and other public institutions—although they, too, understood the threat. COVID-19 has now caused 20k confirmed deaths and another 5k probable deaths in NYC. Governor Andrew Cuomo has not yet set a date for students to return to buildings, but while criticizing Donald Trump for his insistence on opening the schools, he has presented a program that is essentially no different from de Blasio’s. Opposition among educators is widespread throughout the state. No doubt sensitive to the anger of teachers and parents, Cuomo told a press briefing on Sunday:

If the union and the teachers aren’t comfortable, they aren’t going to show up. No one wants to force people to go to work. This is about common sense and public health.

Teachers have been quick to point out the absurdities of the reopening plan of the NY State Education Dept. One teacher on social media noted:

The NYSED recommends districts NOT require a negative COVID test prior to admission for in-person learning. Every year students are REQUIRED to have the appropriate vaccinations in order to attend, but no prior negative COVID test during a pandemic with a highly contagious virus that transmits asymptomatically, especially in children. This is the crowning height of irresponsibility and neglect of public health in educational settings.

Another upstate teacher said:

We are being thrown into a Petri dish, with no care for what might happen. Are we only heroes to you when there is a shooting?

The teachers’ unions in the city and state, which are little more than a wing of the Demagog Party and have supported Cuomo to the hilt, have come under increasing fire from teachers. The union in the state, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), has been widely criticized by teachers for its failure to oppose school reopening. One hashtag on Twitter is #WhereisAndy, referring to NYSUT President Andrew Pallotta. Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT, this week paid lip-service to the sentiments of many teachers when he called for randomized testing of students for the coronavirus, though not mandatory testing of each student. Mulgrew added:

What’s more, even if there are stronger safety standards in place, we still have grave concerns about the city’s ability to enforce them effectively in every school. Right now, this is not enough to protect students and staff.

Mulgrew, however, told a teachers’ town hall phone-in that while he was weighing the possibility of a lawsuit against the city, there would be no strike to prevent schools from reopening. This is the same man who privately warned de Blasio in March that schools should close, representing the interests of the union boxtops. He said nothing to the membership of the UFT, and it was only the threat of a sick-out by rank-and-file teachers that forced the schools to shut down on Mar 16. One teacher from Queens posed the question on Facebook that many are asking:

Can union members continue to put their full trust in our union and in its leaders? I have zero trust in the DOE and the UFT when it comes to our safety and well-being.

Into the developing breach between the UFT, which did nothing to oppose this year’s massive budget cuts to education, and the city’s approximately 70k educators has stepped a “reform” faction of the union, the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE), which sponsored the protest on Monday and is emerging as a supposed alternative to the Mulgrew leadership. As with every faction in the UFT, MORE is devoted to propping up the authority of the Demagog Party. While it has called for a possible sick-out in the event of a school reopening, it echoes the president of the Pindo Federation of Teachers (the parent union of the UFT) Randi Weingarten in its refusal to call for a national strike. MORE is associated with a faction of the Demagog Party, the Democratic Socialists of Pindostan. Its march on Monday raised no criticism of the Demagog Party and was oriented to pressuring Cuomo and de Blasio. Educators in New York cannot let themselves be isolated and herded into fruitless protests to pressure the Demagogs over life-and-death issues. Thousands have died in the city and state, including at least 70 educators, from COVID-19, while both capitalist parties have allowed the disease to run rampant. At the behest of Wall Street, Cuomo, de Blasio and Trump are seeking to opens schools so the working class can go back to producing wealth for the super-rich. The disease can be stopped only by the working class itself, and teachers play a central role. As a first step, teachers need to create new democratic organizations that are independent of the two capitalist parties and the pro-capitalist trade unions: rank-and-file safety committees. A network of these committees across Pindostan must prepare the way for a national teachers’ strike to stop the unsafe reopening of the schools. Any educator, parent or student who would like to become involved in building rank-and-file safety committees should contact the WSWS Educators Newsletter.

For a nationwide general strike to halt the drive to reopen schools!
Statement of the SEP, Aug 5 2020

A growing movement is now underway of teachers, students and parents against the effort to reopen schools amidst the expanding coronavirus pandemic. Over the past month, more than 300k educators and parents have joined Facebook groups opposed to the back-to-school campaign. There have been protests and demonstrations in Mississippi, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Alabama and many other states. On Monday, protests were held in dozens of cities throughout the country. For this movement to succeed, it must be developed into a nationwide struggle, uniting educators with all sections of the working class in a general strike movement against the homicidal policy of the ruling elites. The drive to reopen schools, supported by both the Thugs & Demagogs, is a linchpin in the broader back-to-work campaign. The demand that workers return to work, put into effect in May, is already responsible for 50k deaths in June and July. But the ruling class cannot get workers back to work if their children are not in school. This is the same logic that is driving the effort to curtail or eliminate federal unemployment benefits, forcing workers to return to work or face impoverishment, homelessness and destitution.

The science is clear: Children are equally susceptible to catching COVID-19, have viral loads equal to or greater than adults, are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers, and transmit the virus at the highest rates of any age group. At least four schools that reopened last week have already had students test positive for COVID-19. Any school that reopens will quickly become a major vector for the spread of the virus throughout that community. The effort to reopen schools, in other words, means that students will get sick and die, teachers will get sick and die, and parents will get sick and die. In raising the call for a nationwide general strike, the SEP urges educators and all workers to raise and discuss the following demands in their schools, workplaces and neighborhoods:

  • Keep all schools closed until the virus is eradicated! With the virus spiraling out of control across Pindostan, in-person instruction cannot be done safely.
  • Full funding for public education and online instruction! High speed Internet access, food distribution, mental health-care, special education supports, and all other resources needed to provide the best quality remote learning must be guaranteed to every student and educator.
  • Halt all non-essential production! Until the pandemic is contained, only key industries such as food production, medical care and logistics should remain open. Workers in those industries must be provided with the most advanced safety measures to prevent infection.
  • For a massive expansion of testing and contact-tracing! In order to contain the virus, universal testing must be provided for all, and hundreds of thousands of contact tracers hired to track any cases that emerge, and test and isolate those potentially infected.

The past seven months have demonstrated that the fight against the pandemic depends upon the independent intervention of the working class. The death toll keeps rising and the pandemic is spiraling out of control because the ruling class will not tolerate any measures that cut across its interests. If that means that the pandemic must rage on, so be it. The indifference of the ruling class to this massive loss of life was expressed most nakedly by Trump in an interview with Axios over the weekend. Asked to respond to the fact that 1k people are dying every day, Trump replied:

They are dying. That’s true. And it is what it is.

One could not have a clearer statement of class policy. On Monday evening, Trump declared his determination to press forward with his campaign to prematurely reopen schools, demanding on Twitter, “OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!” Trump does not just speak for himself. In an editorial Monday, “School-Opening Extortion,” the WSJ gives vent to the social interests driving this policy, denouncing protesters for exercising “political extortion” by resisting the effort to reopen schools. the WSJ states:

Children, who would have to endure more lost instruction, are their hostages. Teachers are attempting to coerce parents and taxpayers to dance to their agenda if they want their children to learn.

What contemptible hypocrisy! The ruling class, for whom the WSJ speaks, has systematically degraded public education for decades through the gutting of state funding and the promotion of charter schools, standardized testing and “school choice” schemes to divert funding to private and parochial schools. The WSJ has the gall to accuse teachers of using the pandemic to extract concessions. In reality, it is the financial oligarchy that used the pandemic to demand trillions of dollars in bailout money, sanctioned by the CARES Act passed in late March, with near-unanimous bipartisan support. Having looted the state treasury, the ruling class now demands that workers get back to the job of producing profits to pay for it. The editorial concludes by stating:

No political force should have veto power over the education of Pindostan’s children.

In class terms, the WSJ is demanding that educators, parents, students and the working class should have no say in whether schools reopen or remain closed. While the Trump administration is spearheading the campaign to reopen schools, it has bipartisan support. In NYC yesterday, teachers, parents and students staged a protest against plans by Demagog Party Mayor Bill de Blasio to reopen schools in the city. Both Thug & Demagog governors, moreover, have removed restrictions on non-essential production as the pandemic spread, sending workers back on the job to risk their health and lives to produce profits for the corporations.

Teachers are not fighting alone. There is growing anger and opposition in the entire working class. Their allies are students and parents in K-12 schools, as well as students in colleges and universities that are also moving to reopen. Meatpackers, health-care workers, farm laborers, logistics workers at Amazon, UPS, and USPS, transit workers, service workers and the entire working class confront the same enemy. Autoworkers in Michigan and Ohio have already begun forming independent rank-and-file safety committees to organize opposition. The end of federal unemployment benefits this week threatens millions of jobless with poverty and eviction. Behind closed doors, the Demagogs & Thugs are negotiating over how much these benefits will be cut and how quickly, in order to create the best conditions to blackmail workers to get them back to work. The opposition of teachers in Pindostan, moreover, is part of an international movement. Facebook groups opposed to reopening schools have formed in the UK, South Africa, and other countries where the ruling class is enforcing the same policy.

To fight back, teachers must form independent rank-and-file organizations. The protests organized by the teachers unions are entirely inadequate. The Pindo Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, subservient to the Democrats and the ruling class, are highly conscious of the radicalization taking place among educators and seek to preempt and control this movement. In 2018 and 2019, the unions orchestrated the shutdown and betrayal of a series of teachers’ strikes, beginning in West Virginia. The SEP urges workers in every industry and sector to develop an interconnected network of rank-and-file committees to prepare for a general strike against the opening of schools and the entire policy of the ruling class. The measures demanded by teachers correspond with what scientists and epidemiologists insist is necessary to stop the spread of the pandemic. Two absolutely opposed social interests are involved. Teachers are fighting for life. The ruling class is fighting for profits and death. The trillions that have been handed over to Wall Street and the financial oligarchy must be redirected to provide full unemployment benefits to all workers, and universal access to health-care and public education.

The development of a nationwide general strike would create a powerful impulse and would galvanize support internationally among workers who face the same life-and-death decisions. The logic of such a struggle would place the Pindo working class in a direct confrontation with the Trump administration, which seeks to maintain its rule through increasingly authoritarian measures, and the entire ruling class. All the rights of the working class, even the right to life, depend upon the expropriation of the ruling class and the reorganization of economic life on the basis of social need, not private profit. The only way to halt the reopening of schools, stop the spread of the pandemic, and prevent millions more infections and deaths is through the mass mobilization of the working class in a revolutionary struggle against the source of all suffering wrought by the pandemic, the capitalist system. The SEP and its youth movement, the IYSSE, are spearheading this fight. We urge teachers to contact us for assistance in organizing your struggle. We call on students and youth to support this struggle and join the IYSSE. Sign up for the WSWS Educators Newsletter for updates on this fight.

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