United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) comes under fire after Maryam Qudrat, a Middle Eastern mother, was asked by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) to identify her race after meeting the union’s opposition to the reopening of schools criticized, although this is an overwhelming science for sure. The UTLA’s reaction was evasive to the point of incomprehension. However, the controversy is fueled by recent efforts to portray parents demanding return to school as racist or as examples of white privilege, including recent controversial comments from the UTLA President.
Qudrat was contacted by the UTLA after speaking out against opposition to resuming classes in Los Angeles. She has a seventh grade child and calls on the union to follow the science. Instead, she received an email from a union research that found she had been quoted twice in eight months by the LA Times asking the union to know her race. The email indicates that her name sounds Iranian, but that the researcher does not want to adopt her breed using any “legitimate method”.
The concern, however, is why the union is trying to classify critics as racist. The fact that Qudrat was quoted twice in the LA Times would not provide broader demographic information on the range of parents looking to send their children back to school. Instead, the email is intimidating when some are against the closings to claim racism. This problem recently emerged with the public statements made by the UTLA President:
“Some voices are allowed to speak louder than others. We need to highlight the privilege behind the largely white, wealthy parents who drive the urge to return quickly. Your experience of this pandemic is not the experience of our students’ families. “
Myart-Cruz has also criticized “Middle Eastern” parents for joining “white parents” in their search for school openings.
In response to the recent controversy, UTLA makes the following statement:
“The email in question is from a UTLA researcher who has tried to determine the race of the people quoted to assess whether or not this is a factor that we can evaluate. This contact by the researcher was not authorized and none of this contact is included in the report. We know this type of email can be taken out of context. “
What exactly does that mean? The researcher worked for UTLA “to identify the race of the people cited, to judge whether or not this is a fact that we could assess or not.” Read this a couple of times. “Assess whether… We could assess”? What else do you rate? That sounds more like opposition research. What would be important if the small number of people quoted in a newspaper had a certain ethnic background? It wouldn’t be the composition of families determine who hold that position. While the union says, “we understand that this type of email may be taken out of context,” it does not explain the context or purpose, it does not deny that it is the race of someone who opposed union efforts to keep schools closed.
In reality there are many minority parents who have spoken out in favor of reopening and the science is clear on this issue. Indeed, it was clear when the Trump administration pushed for a reopening last year, despite advertisements calling such efforts “attempted murder” prior to the election.
Obviously, the UTLA’s claims about racism will keep other parents from speaking up. In fact, we recently discussed a leading researcher who stopped working on Covid-19 due to threats and harassment over the minimal risk of school openings. This is the “context” many of us worry about as we read this email.