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.

Comments (7)
  1. Mary Martin says:

    I live in a town with a 2% positivity , yet they are going remote . The social media , television news and Charlie Baker have created tremendous FEAR. Instead of posting all the new positive tests, why not emphasize the number and percentage of deaths vs. cases, and the age of each person who has died. As far as remote learning , it was a total disaster. Young children don’t want to and will not sit in front of computer all day….They are regressing and learning nothing, especially those from divorced families , those who have parents that work , and those who have learning problems .

    1. coch01 says:

      it’s not all about dying, Mary. No, getting COVID won’t always kill you but there are far-reaching and LONG lasting post-infection effects on a majority of people who live through it. You think it’s a burden on a bad medical system now, think about all the kids that will have screw up cardiovascular systems, nerve damage, etc. for the rest of their lives. Not to mention, kids WILL catch this and bring it home to you. Do you want to be deathly ill?

  2. karl davidson says:

    Grateful the doctors and nurses haven’t just said this is a job why are we still working. But see it’s okay for (them).

  3. Judith Churchill says:

    Baker does not have a background in teaching; his background is in healthcare administration and
    So far i feel he has done an admirable job. When it comes to teaching and learning, listens to the educators who are in the trenches.

  4. JimStark says:

    The teachers union best becareful. Remote learning can and is happening without …. union teachers. Oh My!

  5. Karl says:

    Lets remove all the teachers. Open the schools. Give the kids all the money salaries of the school administrators and teachers. The children would figure things out real quickly.

  6. name says:

    The average high school graduate knows so little, we’d practically be better off letting the kids just play video games all day. At least coming to terms with the fact that online learning is perfectly fine may open the door to positive disruption of our broken education system in the future.

    I’d love to see the government make a PDF of every textbook freely available for download and high quality video lectures for the entire K-12 curriculum online, free to all. Then teachers could become tutors, tailoring the learning process and helping students in trouble spots. The opportunities of embracing technology in education are tremendous, if only we can remove the artificial political barriers.

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