Nate Jackson / February 18, 2021

Team Biden Caught Between Teachers and Science

What does the science say? And does Team Biden even know?

Joe Biden was for opening up all our nation’s schools before he was against it. Or was he against it before he was for it? We’re not quite sure. There’s been “a mistake in the communication,” he explained. Thank goodness miscommunication is so rare for Scranton Joe.

Just like that, the president threw his press secretary, Jen Psaki, under the bus for announcing the administration’s goal of opening at least 50% of schools at least one day a week in the first 100 days. It was a laughably low bar, and the administration was roundly mocked for it, especially after broad campaign promises about reopening. So, Biden clarified, “What I’m talking about is I said opening the majority of schools in K-through-eighth grade because they’re the easiest to open, the most needed to be opened, in terms of the impact on children and families having to stay home.”

Biden argued that reopening will take time and that schools may be “open all summer to continue like it’s a different semester.”

He’s right that schools remaining closed has a huge impact on working parents with young children. He’s also right that “the loss of being able to be in school is having significant impact on children” themselves. An incredibly detrimental impact.

But there are teachers unions to please. Just ask First Lady Jill Biden — she holds a doctorate in education, if you didn’t know. Thus, the Biden administration isn’t about to let the science on schools get in the way of a political agenda.

Even CNN isn’t happy with Team Biden on this one. “I think mixed messaging is a little bit of an understatement,” complained CNN reporter Abby Phillip. “There’s been a lot of doublespeak.” She continued, “They can’t seem to just give a simple answer about what the science says about when schools should reopen, and what they might want from a political perspective before that happens.” The political perspective includes that of the teachers unions, which Philip notes “are a very powerful Democratic constituency.”

Likewise, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie pressed President-in-Waiting Kamala Harris for answers. Predictably, Harris only gave platitudes about “the plan” she and Biden have offered, while touting vaccines for teachers, which is a key union demand despite the CDC’s recommendation otherwise. Science? What science?

Maybe it’s the science that says kids are the “safest group of people in the world.” That was Joe Biden, reassuring a young girl that she need not worry about the coronavirus.

To pull things up to the strategic perspective, let’s also note that Joe Biden — or any president for that matter — doesn’t decide when schools are open. It’s in part a sign of media “miscommunication,” not to mention miseducation about civics in schools, that so much power and importance is assigned to the presidency. But ever since Jimmy Carter established the Department of Education, the sad fact is that presidents hold way too much power over local schools. That has nothing to do with violating science or managing a pandemic, but trampling the Constitution.

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