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Kevin Kiley is a Republican California Legislator fighting back against the Supermajority and Special Interests at the State Capitol and Washington D.C. Sign up for updates to be part of our growing movement, and join other Californians of patriotism, decency, and common sense who want nothing more than to save our state and our country.

The arguments driving the school closure debate have one thing in common with our usual education politics. It’s not about the kids.

The CTA, which spent millions electing Gov. Newsom, is demanding a new tax on billionaires as a condition for re-opening schools. Its Los Angeles affiliate, UTLA, has listed a dozen political demands, including:

  • Medicare for All
  • Defund the Police
  • Overturn Prop. 13
  • Impose a Wealth Tax
  • Kill off Charter Schools

It worked. The new school year in LA is off, a move that puts pressure on other districts.

Letting our state’s top campaign contributor dictate school closures is the definition of putting politics over science.

Thankfully, not one child in California has died from COVID-19. While it’s true the mortality risk is not zero, it appears to be on par with riding on a school bus or playing on monkey bars – and certainly less than other activities kids might get up to while out of school.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports “the overall burden of COVID-19 infection in children remains relatively low compared with seasonal influenza.”

So if kids are kept home against the will of their families, that means their education, development – and yes, health – are being sacrificed for some other social objective.

This needs to be acknowledged, even if it’s the legitimate objective of slowing spread of the virus. Because the harm being done to kids from extended school closures is well-documented.

The Brookings Institute found the learning loss in the spring was between 50 and 100 percent of a whole year’s worth of math. A study by McKinsey found that “learning loss will exacerbate existing achievement gaps by 15 to 20 percent.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics cited other risks from school closures, including “child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation,” placing kids “at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.”

Parents who want their kids in classrooms should have that option, and parents who feel home-learning is best should also have that choice. That should be a point of consensus.

But instead, the state’s biggest special interest is, in its own words, using the crisis as “an opportunity to create a new normal.”