Virginia teachers union mocked for grammatical errors in COVID-19 letter

The teachers union president used 'are' when she clearly meant 'our,' among other errors

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A Virginia teachers union has faced ridicule online after it sent a letter riddled with grammatical and typographical errors. The union president explained that the union mistakenly published a draft, rather than the completed letter.

"On behalf of the members of the Arlington Education Association, this dire expression lends great concerns for Arlington Public Schools (APS) return plan for January 3rd, 2022," begins the letter, which Arlington Education Association (AEA) President Ingrid Gant sent to Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Duran on Dec. 30, 2021. The letter raised concerns about the omicron variant of the coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, a more contagious variant that has spread rapidly throughout the U.S.

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Ellen Gallery, a homeschooling mother of three who lives in the area, claimed that she and her kids had gone through the letter, correcting mistakes. She and her kids marked what they identified as eight errors in that one opening sentence.

AEA letter marked up. Photo credit Ellen Gallery.

AEA letter marked up. Photo credit Ellen Gallery. (https://twitter.com/ellenfgallery/status/1476595737408507908)

The mother posted a picture of the letter with copious corrections, faulting AEA for leaving out words, adding unnecessary commas, confusing subject-verb agreement, and more. 

One offending pair of sentences read, "The fire departments in are region are exemplifying domino outbreaks as well. APS employees are no different or above this trend, yet leadership prepares to send educators into situations that will make them sick." In the first sentence, Gant used "are" when she clearly meant to write "our." Gallery and her kids suggested "neither different nor above" for the second sentence.

"The next few weeks are going to be very challenging and without the testing capacity and necessary mitigations, it will be dangerous," Gant wrote in another sentence. Gallery corrected "it" to "they," since the pronoun appears to refer to "the next few weeks."

AEA letter marked up. Photo credit Ellen Gallery.

AEA letter marked up. Photo credit Ellen Gallery. (https://twitter.com/ellenfgallery/status/1476595737408507908)

"Being able to write a clear, persuasive letter is a fundamental skill all students should master before high school," Gallery told Fox News. "The quality of this writing was so glaringly terrible that it distracts from the writer's message."

On Saturday, the Virginia Education Association – the teachers union of which AEA is a part – sent Fox News a statement from Gant explaining the errors.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has persisted far longer than any of us in the Arlington community had expected," the teachers union president wrote in the statement. "A draft letter was sent in place of a fully edited one in a rush to address the latest challenge. While I personally take full responsibility for this mistake, errors in my letter should in no way distract from its message: Arlington's students and educators are returning to school Monday without sufficient testing supplies and with a lunch plan that fails to address the increased risks associated with the Omicron variant."

Opponents of the academic doctrine known as Critical Race Theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.  June 22, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Opponents of the academic doctrine known as Critical Race Theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.  June 22, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

Gallery told Fox News that the AEA's COVID-19 concerns "should have been discussed months ago, not days before kids are supposed to go back to school. Virginia has been allocated billions of taxpayer dollars to make the needed changes to allow in-person learning. We've known about Omicron for more than two months. As a homeschooling mom, I know my kids are profoundly fortunate that they haven't missed a single day of education due to covid or covid policies."

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"As a taxpayer, a voter, and someone who believes that a good education is an indispensable foundation for a fulfilling life, I'm heartbroken for the students in Arlington," Gallery added. "All kids deserve effective, competent, in-person education. This letter does not inspire confidence that the leadership of the Arlington Education Association is on their side."

Corey DeAngelis, national director of research at the American Federation for Children, praised the Gallerys' response to the letter as "epic."

"But the bigger issue is that the teachers union is signaling support for closing schools once again," he warned. "They want all students and staff tested before reopening schools, but that's not the norm for any other businesses, and the added barrier could have practical issues in terms of logistics and testing supply."

"Enough is enough," DeAngelis added. "It's time to free families from the clutches of the teachers unions once and for all. Virginia public schools spend over $13,000 per student per year. That money should go directly to families so they can find alternatives. Many Virginia families felt powerless last school year. Funding students directly would ensure families never have to feel powerless when it comes to their children's education ever again."