BOSTON (CBS) – The state’s largest teachers’ union, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, is pushing back against Governor Charlie Baker’s belief that children can’t learn to read remotely.
On Friday, Baker said he’s against all Massachusetts schools starting fully remote in September because the data doesn’t support it.
Despite the uptick in coronavirus cases in the state the last few weeks, Baker said the majority of communities have transmission rates low enough to allow children to return to class in-person or in a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning.
But several communities have recently decided to start the new school year fully remote and the state’s two largest teachers’ unions want it as well.
Baker said he’s especially concerned about kids in kindergarten through third grade, who he said are “least likely to be infected in the first place,” not learning how to read.
“The way we teach kids how to read historically has been very much an in-person and hands on activity,” the governor said. “Trying to teach those kids how to read remotely. . . I mean that’s not how you teach kids how to read,” he said.
But the head of the Massachusetts Teachers Association took exception with the governor’s suggestion.
“He’s totally wrong. I don’t know where he got his license to teach. Educators know how to teach kids how to read no matter what the format is,” MTA President Merrie Najimy told WBZ-TV.
The union doesn’t believe it will be safe until school buildings are upgraded to improve air quality and there is contract tracing and testing available.
Ultimately it will be up to the individual cities and towns to make the decision, but Baker did say he would have more to say on the topic next week.