Biden And The Teachers’ Unions Flunk Science Class

Despite Experts Saying In-Person Learning Is Best For Students, And Scientific Studies Showing Schools Can Reopen Safely, Teachers’ Unions In Many States Refuse To Return To The Classroom And Are Even Getting Encouragement From The Biden White House


Though Congress Has Appropriated Over $110 Billion To Support Education And Reopen Schools, President Biden And White House Chief Of Staff Ron Klain Say It’s Still Not Enough

“The U.S. Senate’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief package includes more than $30 billion for education, with more than $14 billion for colleges and universities and at least $13.5 billion for the nation’s K-12 schools.” (“Coronavirus Relief Package Offers Up More Than $30 Billion For Education,” NPR, 03/26/2020)

“The nearly $900 billion stimulus package — hammered out by Congress this weekend and attached to a regular spending bill — includes a total of $82 billion for education: $23 billion for higher education, $4 billion for governors to distribute (much of which must go to private schools), and $54 billion for K-12 public schools.” (“The Wait Is Nearly Over: Congress Set To Provide Over $50 Billion For Public Schools,” Chalkbeat, 12/21/2020)

“President Joe Biden on [January 25th] waded into the Chicago Teachers Union’s standoff with City Hall over reopening schools, indicating support for teachers’ COVID-19 safety concerns after, the Sun-Times has learned, White House senior staffers were briefed about the impasse by American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten…. The CTU is the local affiliate of Weingarten’s AFT.” (“Biden Signals Support For CTU’s COVID-19 Safety Concerns As Top Union Chief Briefs White House,” Chicago Sun-Times, 1/25/2021)

CNN’s ERIN BURNETT: “So, today, I know you saw the CDC journal publishing yet another study saying, you know, you can open K-12 schools for in-person learning with minimal COVID transmission. Why do you think so many public schools across this country are still closed in places that the private schools are open?”
WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF RON KLAIN: “Yeah, I’ll give you a word, money. That’s why the president of the United States set a plan into Congress even before he took office, to make the investments you need to make the school safe. … President Biden has sent a plan to Congress that will make sure that the majority of our schools can be open within 100 days. We need Congress to pass that plan so we can do the kinds of things you need to do so that schools can be safe, so the teachers can be safe, so the student can be safe. Sadly, it costs money, Erin.” (CNN, 1/26/2021)

  • BURNETT: “Ron, why do you think that the unions in many cases are overruling what the studies show?”
    KLAIN: “I don’t think unions are overruling studies. I think what you’re seeing is schools that haven’t made the investments to keep the students safe. ... So, we need to do the things to open safely.” (CNN, 1/26/2021)


Scientific Studies, By Biden’s CDC, Show That With Care And Proper Precautions Schools Can Reopen Safely

Schools operating in person have seen scant transmission of the coronavirus, particularly when masks and distancing are employed … researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded in papers published Tuesday. The CDC team reviewed data from studies in the United States and abroad and found the experience in schools differed from nursing homes and high-density work sites where rapid spread has occurred. ‘The preponderance of available evidence from the fall school semester has been reassuring,’ wrote three CDC researchers in a viewpoint piece published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. ‘There has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.’ (“CDC Finds Scant Spread Of Coronavirus In Schools With Precautions In Place,” The Washington Post, 1/26/2021)

  • “‘The conclusion here is with proper prevention efforts . . . we can keep transmission in schools and educational settings quite low,’ said Margaret A. Honein, the lead author of the JAMA report. ‘We didn’t know that at the beginning of the year but the data has really accumulated.’ … Still, Honein said, even in places with high infection rates, there is no evidence that schools will transmit the virus at rates that are any higher than those seen in the general community. She said they can operate safely as long as precautions are employed…. ‘With good prevention, we can safely reopen and keep open more schools,’ said Honein, lead for the CDC State and Local Health Department Covid Task Force.” (“CDC Finds Scant Spread Of Coronavirus In Schools With Precautions In Place,” The Washington Post, 1/26/2021)

MSNBC’s WILLIE GEIST: “I want to ask you about schools. There’s a growing frustration, as you know, in this country, among parents, among educators, that it’s been almost a year and some children have not been yet back to school, in that entire time. The CDC researchers put out some research this week that suggests that it is safe to have schools open, as long as we continue masking and social distancing … broadly speaking, should schools be open?”
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health: “You know, I would back the CDC recommendations, because that is really based on data. We didn’t really appreciate that early on, but the fact is that when you look at a community and look at the penetrance of the virus in the community and its spread at the community level compared to the school in that community, it’s less likely for a child to get infected in the school setting than if they were just in the community. So for that reason … we need to try and get the children back to school …” (MSNBC’s “Morning Joe, 1/28/2021)

‘Schools Do Not Seem To Be Stoking Community Transmission Of The Coronavirus’

“Months into the school year, school reopenings across the United States remain a patchwork of plans: in-person, remote and hybrid; masked and not; socially distanced and not. But amid this jumble, one clear pattern is emerging. So far, schools do not seem to be stoking community transmission of the coronavirus, according to data emerging from random testing in the United States and Britain. Elementary schools especially seem to seed remarkably few infections.” (“Schoolchildren Seem Unlikely To Fuel Coronavirus Surges, Scientists Say,” The New York Times, 10/22/2020)

  • “Still, transmission by young children to adults seems to be negligible as long as safety measures are in place. Several studies have suggested that children under 10 are mostly unaffected by the coronavirus and spread it to others less efficiently compared with older children and adults. One study published in the journal Pediatrics surveyed more than 57,000 child care providers in the United States and found that they were no more likely to become infected with the coronavirus than other adults in the community.” (“Schoolchildren Seem Unlikely To Fuel Coronavirus Surges, Scientists Say,” The New York Times, 10/22/2020)

DR. DAVID RUBIN, A Pediatrician And Infectious Disease Expert At The University Of Pennsylvania: “I think there’s a pretty good base of evidence now that schools can open safely in the presence of strong safety plans, and even at higher levels of case incidence than we had suspected.” (“Schoolchildren Seem Unlikely To Fuel Coronavirus Surges, Scientists Say,” The New York Times, 10/22/2020)


Health Experts: ‘All Schools Should Aim To Have Students Attend School In Person, Which Is How They Learn Best,’ ‘The Lower Risk Of Transmission Of The Virus By Younger Children … Suggest The Appropriateness Of In-Person Instruction’

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: “[T]he AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for school COVID-19 plans should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” (“COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools,” American Academy of Pediatrics, 1/05/2021)

  • Opening schools generally does not significantly increase community transmission, particularly when guidance outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is followed. The lower risk of transmission of the virus by younger children and reported milder or moderate illness in this age group suggest the appropriateness of in-person instruction for primary and elementary grades.” (“COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools,” American Academy of Pediatrics, 1/05/2021)

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: “All schools should aim to have students attend school in person, which is how they learn best.” (“Safe Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Healthychildren.org, 1/05/2021)

DR. FAUCI: “… our default position should be to try to keep the schools open and get children who are not in school back in school as best as we possibly can.” (“As Coronavirus Numbers Spike, US Should ‘Try To Keep Schools Open,’ Fauci Says,” Fox News, 12/09/2020)


‘Research Has Increasingly Shown That Many Students Are Struggling With Distance Learning,’ ‘Students Regressed Because Of Lost Classroom Time,’ And The Most Vulnerable Students Have Been The Worst Affected

“A flood of new data — on the national, state and district levels — finds students began this academic year behind. Most of the research concludes students of color and those in high-poverty communities fell further behind their peers, exacerbating long-standing gaps in American education. A study released this week by McKinsey & Co. estimates that the shift to remote school in the spring set White students back by one to three months in math, while students of color lost three to five months. As the coronavirus pandemic persists through this academic year, McKinsey said, losses will escalate. … The McKinsey study echoes a half dozen other national reports released in recent days. They all find that students regressed because of lost classroom time in the spring, particularly in math, though the reports vary in degree of the losses and in disparities among student groups.” (“‘A Lost Generation’: Surge Of Research Reveals Students Sliding Backward, Most Vulnerable Worst Affected,” The Washington Post, 12/06/2020)

“Separately, data released by multiple school districts show a sharp increase in failing grades this fall, particularly for the most vulnerable students.” (“‘A Lost Generation’: Surge Of Research Reveals Students Sliding Backward, Most Vulnerable Worst Affected,” The Washington Post, 12/06/2020)

  • “Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, which has been mostly online since March, published an internal analysis this week showing that, between the last academic year and this one, the percentage of middle school and high school students earning F’s in at least two classes jumped by 83 percent: from 6 percent to 11 percent. By the end of the first quarter of 2020-2021, nearly 10,000 Fairfax students had scored F’s in two or more classes — an increase of more than 4,300 students as compared with the group who received F’s by the same time last year.” (“Failing Grades Spike In Virginia’s Largest School System As Online Learning Gap Emerges Nationwide,” The Washington Post, 11/24/2020)
  • “More than 40% of students in Houston’s Independent School District are earning failing grades in at least two of their classes, while nearly 40% of public high-schoolers in St. Paul, Minnesota, have failing marks. In New York, the nation’s largest school system, 60,000 kids can’t even participate in remote learning because they lack the necessary devices. A ‘60 Minutes’ report on Sunday found that in a single county school district in Tampa, 7,000 students have simply disappeared, never logging in for remote classes.” (“Remote Learners May Suffer In The New Economy,” Axios, 11/25/2020)

“Research has increasingly shown that many students are struggling with distance learning, their academic, mental, emotional and physical health at risk. Tens of thousands of young people have simply gone missing from their classes, too many now considered dropouts, their whereabouts unknown…. ‘The inequitable learning loss and increase in mental health issues that has already occurred threatens the future economic and health conditions of millions of students,’ said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, an Oakland research and advocacy organization. ‘We must get kids safely back in school now.’” (“Moving California Teachers To The Front Of The Vaccine Line Might Not Be Enough To Reopen Schools,” San Francisco Chronicle, 1/09/2021)

Yet Across The Country, Many Teachers’ Unions Refuse To Return To School

ILLINOIS: “The Chicago Teachers Union voted to refuse in-person instruction Sunday and directed educators to work remotely starting Monday. The decision comes two weeks after the nation’s third-largest school district called teachers and staff into classrooms and started to lock them out from remote work. Chicago Public Schools chief executive Janice Jackson had said the action would constitute an illegal strike.” (“Chicago Teachers Union Votes To Refuse In-Person Classes And Continue Remote Instruction,” The Washington Post, 1/24/2021)

  • “Chicago Public Schools will halt in-person classes Wednesday as the city makes a last push to reach a deal with its teachers union to reopen schools for elementary students on Monday. Without an agreement despite months of talks and several delays, the Chicago Teachers Union said its members will still refuse to report to schools and will strike if CPS locks teachers out of remote classroom platforms. It would be their second strike in less than two years.” (“CPS Halts In-Person Learning For Students Already Back As Teachers Strike Looms,” Chicago Tribune, 1/26/2021)

WASHINGTON STATE: “The situation between the Bellevue School District and the teacher’s union escalating into a legal battle on Thursday after teachers voted to not come back to teach in person during a Tuesday meeting…. The district says the union broke an agreement to expand in-person learning starting with 2nd graders on Thursday. The district says it was a last resort after repeated requests to mediate concerns went nowhere…. The district is using substitute teachers amid a dispute with the union that now said educators in Bellevue won’t come back in person until they are vaccinated. (“Dispute Over In-Person Learning Escalates Into Legal Action For Bellevue School District,” Q13 Fox Seattle, 1/22/2021)

MARYLAND: “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that he wants students back in the classroom by March 1. Now, Maryland’s teachers’ union is pushing back on that start date, calling it arbitrary. In a letter sent to Hogan and state Superintendent Karen Salmon, Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost expressed frustration with the March deadline.” (“Md. Teachers’ Union Pushes Back On Hogan’s Call To Return To In-Person Classes,” WTOP, 1/26/2021)

While Many Teachers Receive Vaccine Prioritization, Some Teachers’ Unions Refuse To Tie Vaccinations To In-Person Reopening

“Vaccinating teachers has been widely hailed as a vital step toward reopening the nation’s still-closed schools and, in many places, educators have been moved toward the front of the line for shots. But it has not gone hand-in-hand with efforts to return students to classrooms. And adding to the confusion, some officials are explicitly refusing to link vaccination and reopening.” (“Teachers Are Moving To The Front Of The Vaccine Line — But That Doesn’t Mean All Schools Will Reopen Right Away,” The Washington Post, 01/26/2021)

VIRGINIA: FAIRFAX EDUCATION ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT KIMBERLY ADAMS: “We think all students need to be vaccinated before in-person instruction resumes full time. For now, a hybrid learning option must continue to be available to all students and staff.” (“‘It Feels Like The Goalpost Keeps Moving’: Vaccine Battle Brewing In Fairfax County Public Schools,” Fox5DC, 01/26/2021)

WASHINGTON, DC: D.C. TEACHERS’ UNION PRESIDENT ELIZABETH DAVIS:Having the vaccine available for teachers… does not solve all the problems.” (“Teachers Are Moving To The Front Of The Vaccine Line — But That Doesn’t Mean All Schools Will Reopen Right Away,” The Washington Post, 01/26/2021)

And In California, With Schools In San Francisco Still Closed And Teachers Saying Vaccinations Won’t Be Enough, The School Board There Has No Plan To Reopen But Does Have A Plan To Strip The Names Of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, And Sen. Dianne Feinstein From Schools

CALIFORNIA: “Many California parents and public officials supported pushing the state’s 1.4 million teachers and other education workers toward the front of the vaccine line, believing that would allow schools to finally reopen. But the state teachers unions — as well as San Francisco’s — have said vaccinations won’t be enough and are calling for additional measures not endorsed by public health experts as necessary for students and staff to safely return to the classroom.” (“Moving California Teachers To The Front Of The Vaccine Line Might Not Be Enough To Reopen Schools,” San Francisco Chronicle, 1/09/2021)

“San Francisco will rename 44 schools, including campuses named after former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The near-unanimous Monday vote by the San Francisco Board of Education, with only one dissenter, comes after years of debate — and much scorn, including from Mayor London Breed — over the reckoning of historical figures and their contentious, flawed legacies.” (“San Francisco To Rename 44 Schools With ‘Racist’ Namesakes, Including Washington, Lincoln, Feinstein,” SFGATE, 01/27/2021)

  • “Mayor London Breed entered the fray, criticizing the renaming of schools and calling it ‘offensive’ last year amid the pandemic and the continuation of school closures. Breed said in a statement Wednesday: ‘This is an important conversation to have, and one that we should involve our communities, our families, and our students. What I cannot understand is why the School Board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn’t a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then.’” (“San Francisco To Rename 44 Schools With ‘Racist’ Namesakes, Including Washington, Lincoln, Feinstein,” SFGATE, 01/27/2021)
  • “[People] such as Spring Utting, a parent of a student at Lowell High — another school set to be renamed — were concerned that the renaming deflects on the broader, more crucial issue of schools reopening. ‘Is this meant to distract parents so we don't ask what the school reopening plan is? Do they have one?’ she told SFGATE. ‘Why isn't that the first item on their agenda?’ ‘It's deeply disappointing,’ said Seeyew Mo, the executive director of Families for San Francisco, a parent advocacy group, ‘that the School Board paid zero attention to community input, even to the point of ignoring factual corrections.’ The group published a report earlier this month, calling the work done by the renaming committee ‘deeply flawed.’” (“San Francisco To Rename 44 Schools With ‘Racist’ Namesakes, Including Washington, Lincoln, Feinstein,” SFGATE, 01/27/2021)


Parents Want In-Person Instruction: Public Schools With Virtual Learning Are Seeing Enrollment Drop As Enrollment Increases At Private Schools With In-Person Learning

“Just 5% of private schools were virtual this fall, according to survey data from the National Association of Independent Schools, cited by CNBC. Compare that with the 62% of public schoolkids who started the fall on Zoom, per Burbio, which has been tracking public school re-opening plans.” (“Private Schools Pull Students Away From Public Schools,” Axios, 01/02/2021)

“With public schools mostly shifting to remote or hybrid learning, parents are pulling their children out entirely, opting to keep them at home or looking for options that offer more in-person instruction.” (“U.S. Public School Enrollment Drops As Parents, Frustrated By Lockdown, Pull Their Children Out,” The New York Times, 11/27/2021)

  • “In Massachusetts, public school enrollment dropped by nearly 4% this fall, losing more than 37,000 students, the Boston Globe writes. New York public schools lost 31,000 students compared with last year, according to Chalkbeat. Virginia’s Fairfax County lost over 8,700 students since last year, while Maryland’s Montgomery County decreased enrollment by 3,700 students, according to preliminary figures cited by the Washington Post. In California, the Los Angeles Unified School District and Orange County were down by 11,000 and 8,000 students, respectively, in October, NPR reports. Wisconsin public school enrollment dropped by 3%, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.” (“U.S. Public School Enrollment Drops As Pandemic Persists,” Axios, 11/28/2020)

“A reverse phenomenon has taken place at private schools, many of which began the school year with in-person learning. In New England, 36 percent of independent schools reported a rise in enrollment in September compared with last year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools. The National Association of Independent Schools said in August that 58 percent of its schools had reported an increase in interest from the previous summer.” (“U.S. Public School Enrollment Drops As Parents, Frustrated By Lockdown, Pull Their Children Out,” The New York Times, 11/27/2021)



Related Issues: Education, COVID-19