Democrats Side With Teachers’ Unions In Refusal To Support Schools Reopening

All 50 Democrats Voted Against A Republican Amendment To Require Schools To Begin Reopening With Students In Attendance To Receive The Extra Funding In Democrats’ Stimulus Bill


Every Senate Democrat voted against the Republican amendment to ensure that school reopening dollars are going to support in-person learning, conditioning funding on schools reopening. (S.Amdt. 1026 to S.Amdt. 891, H.R. 1319, Roll Call Vote #80: Rejected 48-51: D 0-48; R 48-1; I 0-2, 3/06/2021)

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Remember, we’re almost to the one-year anniversary of a leading House Democrat admitting they see this whole crisis as ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.‘ So, sorry to all the American families who’ve just been hoping to get their jobs back, their schools back, and their lives back. Democrats are more interested in some restructuring. That’s why only 1% of this huge package goes directly to vaccinations. That’s why it proposes another 12-digit sum of federal funding for K-12 schools, even though science tells us schools can be made safe right now. About 95% of that funding won’t even go out this fiscal year.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/01/2021)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): “Most schools in America have been closed for over a year now, causing insurmountable damage to our children’s educational outcomes and wellbeing… This is not a partisan issue, and the future generation of America’s leaders is depending on our nation to put students first. The Democrats’ supposed rescue plan would throw billions at the problem but take no steps to reopen schools, in clear opposition to the science. My amendment would solve this problem by rewarding schools that are taking steps to offer in-person instruction five days a week. Any senator who respects science and cares about our nation’s students should support this amendment.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 3/05/2021)

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): “Labor unions and their bosses are the reason that many of our nation’s schools are still shuttered, even though science says in-person education is low-risk… The pandemic has created not only a health crisis, but also an education crisis that I fear may permanently affect the future of millions of students, especially those who grew up in poverty like I did. For our children’s sake, schools must be fully reopened for in-person learning.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 3/05/2021)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): “Keeping our classrooms closed is leaving a generation of students behind and having a devastating impact on our families—particularly women who have lost more jobs during this pandemic than their male counterparts… It’s past time to follow the data and the science, put our kids ahead of Left-wing political interests, and safely reopen schools, just like Iowa has done. Incredibly, the money in this massive, 628-page bill has little or nothing to do with getting kids back in school right now. That is simply wrong. If Democrats are going to spend billions of dollars on pandemic relief funds for schools that will not use the money until the pandemic is over, the least we can do is require those schools to safely reopen now.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 3/05/2021)

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): “If we’re going to send more money to schools, they need to re-open… If Democrats are going to support opening our southern border for illegal immigrants, they should support opening our schools for American students. It’s as simple as that.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 3/05/2021)

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): “As Democrats promulgate harmful progressive policies in Washington, students across the country are sitting at home suffering because teachers’ unions refuse to return to work, in complete defiance of what the science actually says and without rebuke from President Biden or his allies. We need to reopen schools.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 3/05/2021)

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): “The facts are clear: prolonged remote learning puts kids at higher risk of failing classes, falling behind, and suffering from mental health problems… Encouraging schools to maximize in-person learning shouldn’t be controversial. I urge all of my colleagues to do what is best for kids and join us in supporting this amendment.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 3/05/2021)

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): “We know Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi’s real plan is to pay schools to stay closed… Federal relief funding should encourage schools to provide in person learning. We cannot allow the teacher’s unions to control our children.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 3/05/2021)


REMINDER: Democrats’ Spending Plan Would Not Distribute 95% Of The Money Allocated For K-12 Schools This Fiscal Year

CBO: “The legislation would appropriate $170.1 billion for the Department of Education mostly to make grants to states, local education agencies, and postsecondary education institutions, which would result in outlays totaling $170.1 billion over the 2021-2030 period, CBO estimates. The Congress previously provided nearly $31 billion for education stabilization in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, and another $82 billion for this purpose in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, enacted on December 27, 2020. Because most of those funds remain to be spent, CBO anticipates that the bulk of spending of funds provided in the reconciliation recommendations would occur after 2021.” (“Reconciliation Recommendations of the House Committee on Education and Labor,” Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate, 2/15/2021, p. 3)


 CBO Chart Of Dem Education Spending

(“Reconciliation Recommendations of the House Committee on Education and Labor,” Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate, 2/15/2021, p. 12)


A Recent CDC Study Found That ‘With Good Prevention, We Can Safely Reopen And Keep Open More Schools’

“What do we know about coronavirus transmission in schools? In a review of the science, the CDC found in-person schooling has not been associated with substantial transmission in the wider community. Multiple studies found transmission rates inside schools are similar to, or lower than, levels in the community when mitigation steps are in place. A study of 11 North Carolina school districts holding in-person learning last fall found minimal transmission even when community transmission was high. These schools implemented and adhered to strict mitigation strategies, including universal mask use and physical distancing inside buildings, the CDC noted. Similar results were found in studies in Italy, Switzerland, Chicago and elsewhere.” (The Washington Post, 2/17/2021)

“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)


Pediatric Disease Experts ‘Largely Agreed That It Was Safe Enough For Schools To Be Open To Elementary Students For Full-Time And In-Person Instruction Now’

“Many of the common preconditions to opening schools — including vaccines for teachers or students, and low rates of infection in the community — are not necessary to safely teach children in person, a consensus of pediatric infectious disease experts said in a new survey. Instead, the 175 experts — mostly pediatricians focused on public health — largely agreed that it was safe enough for schools to be open to elementary students for full-time and in-person instruction now. Some said that was true even in communities where Covid-19 infections were widespread, as long as basic safety measures were taken. Most important, they said, were universal masking, physical distancing, adequate ventilation and avoidance of large group activities.” (“We Asked 175 Pediatric Disease Experts if It Was Safe Enough to Open School,” The New York Times, 2/11/2021)

DR. DAVID ROSEN, Washington University in St. Louis assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases: “There is no situation in which schools can’t be open unless they have evidence of in-school transmission.” (“We Asked 175 Pediatric Disease Experts if It Was Safe Enough to Open School,” The New York Times, 2/11/2021)

“Although these experts specialized in children’s physical health, many concluded that the risks to mental health, social skills and education outweighed the risks of the virus. Students’ future opportunities, said Dr. Susan Lipton, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, are ‘torpedoed without the best academics, interaction with inspiring teachers who become mentors, clubs, sports and other ways to shine.’ ‘This is devastating a generation,’ she said.” (“We Asked 175 Pediatric Disease Experts if It Was Safe Enough to Open School,” The New York Times, 2/11/2021)


Democrats Are Aligning With Powerful Teachers’ Unions, Who Keep Coming Up With New Reasons Why They Won’t Return To Classrooms

LOS ANGELES, CA: “California’s largest local teachers union on Monday slammed the state’s new school reopening plan as ‘a recipe for propagating structural racism’ hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic lawmakers unveiled their compromise proposal. The United Teachers of Los Angeles’ strong condemnation is a bad sign for Newsom and Democrats who spent months working to strike a deal on legislation they believe will spur districts to reopen. Los Angeles Unified is the second largest district in the nation with about 600,000 students — and by far the largest in the state with roughly 10 percent of California’s public schoolchildren.” (“LA Teachers Union Slams California Schools Plan As ‘Propagating Structural Racism,’” Politico, 3/02/2021)

MADISON, WI: “The Madison School District announced a plan Feb. 10 to return elementary students and staff to in-person learning…. A letter from Madison Teachers Inc. discouraged educators from supporting an early return to in-person learning due to low numbers of vaccinated individuals, health disparities and unsafe COVID-19 case numbers in Dane County. In the letter, MTI asked for assurance they would quickly receive COVID-19 vaccinations. They also asked for the district’s explicit reasoning for reopening.” (“Madison School District Proposes Early Return To In-Person Learning, Teachers Union Not Ready,” The Badger Herald, 2/28/2021)

SEATTLE, WA: “Seattle, the state’s largest district, is also one of the last districts in the state to return to in-person learning at any significant scale. The latest negotiations over how and when to expand in-person learning began in January, with union concerns hinging primarily on whether the district has put in place sufficient health and safety precautions, including increased ventilation in classrooms and PPE for staff.” (“Seattle Schools Says Many ‘Essential’ Staff Will Be Called Back To Classrooms In March,” KUOW Seattle, 2/27/2021)

  • “Seattle Public Schools informed hundreds of teachers and other school staff that they may be among those called back to buildings beginning March 8 to teach in-person classes. This is before the district reaches a reopening agreement with Seattle Education Association…. Union leaders called the district’s move a ‘union-busting tactic’ and said it is considering filing an unfair labor practice charge…. The district’s move drew harsh criticism from many union members, including many who were notified Friday that they may be required to return to buildings in just over a week.” (“Seattle Schools Says Many ‘Essential’ Staff Will Be Called Back To Classrooms In March,” KUOW Seattle, 2/27/2021)

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA: “About 9,000 more Prince William County elementary, middle and high schoolers returned to school buildings [February 25th] for the first time this school year as a result of the school board’s decision last week to override Superintendent Steven Walts’ request to wait a few weeks longer…. The school board was split on the decision, voting 5-3 on Feb. 17 to reject Walts’ new timeline and carry on with returning students today…. The Prince William Education Association, the local teachers’ union, released a statement critical of the school board’s Feb. 17 decision, calling it a ‘defiance of science, safety and common sense’ and warning of a staff shortages. ‘The infrastructure and staffing requirements for the fraction of students whose parents have chosen to risk in-person learning is far from secure. As an organization of thousands of front-line workers, the PWEA has heard the realities ‘on the ground’ and in real time – and they are not consistent with the fantasy projected by certain members of the PWCS School Board,’ the statement said.” (“As Schools Reopen To More Students, School Board Chair Defends Decision To Reject Superintendent’s Request For More Time,” Prince William Times, 2/25/2021)



Related Issues: Senate Democrats, COVID-19, Education