After Biden’s ambitious pledge in December to reopen schools nationwide, the White House backtracked and set goals so far below the pledge, that they were met before he was sworn in. Biden is being accused of bowing to teachers’ unions.
The Biden administration’s efforts to reopen schools is receiving blowback after the scope of what “open” has been narrowed.
- During the presidential transition, Biden pledged to reopen “the majority of our schools” during the first 100 days of his administration.
- But earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a question about reopening schools by drastically moving the goal posts, arguing that Biden’s pledge meant to have more than half the nation’s schools open for in-person classes “at least one day a week.”
- Since then, administration officials have said the CDC is expected to release updated guidance on school openings today.
- Fact checkers have noted that studies show the new baseline for “reopening” was met before President Biden took office and while at least one report highlighted the criticism leveled at Biden for “failing to stand up to teacher unions.”
- While the New York Times noted the tensions and contradictions inside the Biden administration on how and when to reopen schools, the report ultimately obfuscates any responsibility by saying the difficulty of turning Biden’s “lofty pitch into reality” is because of “new variants of the coronavirus, protests of teachers’ unions, and the fears and frustrations of students and parents.”
- CNN noted Psaki’s backtracking after getting pushback from parents and local education officials on the “one day a week” of in-person learning commitment, while reporting on the intransigence of teachers’ unions.
- Reporting in The Washington Post was framed around the power struggle between the Biden administration and various teachers’ unions, including comments from Biden confidant and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell suggesting Biden needs to be tougher with his “friends” in the unions.
- The New York Post and Fox News emphasized Psaki’s comments that parents should not be “satisfied” with Biden’s definition of reopening schools.
- Columnist Salena Zito wrote anecdotally about the damage the lack on in-person schooling has wrought on students and their families, citing one Pittsburgh family who has struggled.
- Rich Lowry, Editor of National Review and contributor to Politico, wrote that despite the bipartisan agreement that schools can and should reopen classrooms, Biden is not showing the political courage to stand up to teachers’ unions despite the evidence showing the benefits outweigh the risks.
© Dallas Gerber, 2021