Newsom Brings Home the Gold in High-Powered Hypocrisy
Governor Newsom made headlines this week when he announced he would allow California’s indoor mask mandate to expire – but only for the vaccinated – on February 15. The move follows the governor’s massive publicity disaster at the NFL playoff game at Inglewood’s Sofi Stadium where he posed for a photo – maskless – with Magic Johnson that instantly went viral.
Even the governor’s supporters were quick to acknowledge that – after his French Laundry debacle, the Getty wedding, vacation photos maskless outside a luxury villa in Cabo, and pictures of his kids maskless at basketball camp – Newsom is going for the Gold when it comes to being politically tone-deaf.
In the running for the Silver is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He tried to excuse his own maskless photo with Johnson at the same NFL playoff game by claiming he held his breath while being photographed, to the guffaws of literally everyone. Coming in with the Bronze: San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who has excused her own masklessness (at LA’s Sofi, and in SF’s clubs and bars) as a matter of her eagerness to party. Like us, she called her critics “fun police.” Unlike us, she’s in a position to call an end to masking madness.
The hypocrisy was stunning. The arrogance of Newsom, Garcetti, and Breed, who follow the “rules for thee, but not for me” model of governing, appears to have been a tipping point for even some of the most sycophantic members of the media. It’s hard to ignore that California’s COVID narrative is imploding when the Superbowl is coming to Los Angeles Sunday, and the Academy announced the Oscars won’t require attendees to be vaccinated.
Newsom notably did not change the mask requirements for California’s K-12 school children, something he is expected to announce in the coming days. We assume he’ll do that after he receives his latest marching orders from the state’s teachers’ unions.
The backlash to the photos was swift from outraged parents and frustrated students, and it rippled across the nation as another photo made headlines: a picture of Democrat Stacey Abrams smiling mask-free in front of a somber and masked Georgia classroom also went viral.
Teachers’ union leaders quickly jumped on cable news to quell the parental storm. Parents have run out of patience with the unions that have failed students by leveraging the pandemic to advance their own radical political agenda.
Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, went on MSNBC to instruct viewers to be mindful of how much teachers suffered during the pandemic. Nevermind the mental health and suicide crisis among students who have suffered for two years due to the unions unwavering insistence on putting politics before the needs of children.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to tell viewers, “The real issue becomes, is the spread low enough so that there’s no dissemination and transmission in schools?” This is an irrational standard since (a) vaccinated students can both catch and transmit the virus and (b) zero transmission — which seems to be her public health goal — is unachievable anywhere this side of glory.
Despite the backlash, California lawmakers refuse to take their foot off the gas. Legislators voted to continue the State of Emergency yesterday. Assemblyman Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill last month to allow children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine without their parents’ consent. And Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) introduced a bill to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all students in California’s K-12 schools. Remember, please, that kids under 18 account for 0.0 percent of California’s COVID deaths.
The potential fallout if Pan’s bill becomes law is catastrophic. Two physician epidemiologists came out against the bill this week, estimating that over a million California school children would be forced back into remote learning if the bill becomes law. They also warned that “Black and Latino children are less likely to be vaccinated, meaning they would likely be excluded at higher rates than their white peers” if the legislation is enacted.
The tragedy for California’s students cannot be overstated. Students in the state’s government-run schools have for years tested at the bottom of national reading and math assessment tests. Two years of learning loss on top of that deficit is damaging for all students, but the long-term setbacks for students in low-income neighborhoods and special needs students will be devastating. None of this matters to teachers’ unions.
It’s no wonder that homeschooling in California is booming. Many parents who got a taste of teaching their children during the pandemic, either on their own or through learning pods, discovered that homeschooling is easier than you think. In California, where innovation and independence are celebrated, parents are realizing they can do a better job educating their children than the failed government-run schools.
And it’s not just wealthy, suburban parents choosing to homeschool. Homeschooling families are diverse across demographics and income levels, and the numbers are growing every day.
That’s why the teachers’ unions are desperate to keep education options for Californians limited, and why they fight so hard to thwart charter schools, which often serve as hubs for homeschooling. They do it to keep the competition at bay and to maintain their power.
While parents and students throughout the state wait on Newsom’s decision on mask requirements for schools, let’s hope he’ll have the guts to finally stand up to California’s teachers’ unions and the political savvy to understand that his most powerful constituency, parents, is no longer a sleeping giant, but wide awake.