Neither Biden nor public school teachers want to re-open classrooms
President Biden has stated as his goal to reopen most K–12 public schools across America within the first 100 days of his administration. However, Jen Psaki has defined "reopening" to mean one day of in-classroom lessons per week. The other four days will see students continuing the past year's pattern — sitting alone at home in front of a computer, isolated and physically inactive. Biden's passivity reflects the fact that he cannot get unionized teachers to go back to school and does not want to try lest he either offend his base or look like a failure.
Bias alert: I dislike the teachers' unions. If they confined themselves to ensuring that their members work decent hours and get decent salaries and benefits, I'd be neutral about them. However, the unions don't stop there. For decades, they've been committed to three things: keeping manifestly incompetent teachers from getting fired, advancing leftist ideologies in the classroom, and trumpeting to the world the martyrdom of their jobs.
(As always, let me say up front that if you're a knowledgeable teacher who is truly dedicated to educating the young people in your charge, and you keep your politics out of the classroom, I'm not talking about you.)
One of the truisms of any social media feed is that, if you have teacher friends, they will complain more than any other people about how horrible their jobs are. They'll put up endless posters and videos about the fact that they are overworked and underpaid. Your friend who's a $12/hour short-order cook working 12-hour shifts or the one who does road crew work in Nebraska in the winter or Texas in the summer never complains compared to the average teacher.
There's also a fundamental problem with public teacher unions that you might not have thought of. In the private sector, when unions and management meet at the negotiating table, both have skin in the game. They both want more money and to keep the company viable. They must compromise, or they all lose.
It's quite different when the teachers' unions negotiate. The only ones at the table are union representatives and government negotiators, who are invariably Democrats. They both want more money from the taxpayer, who is not at the table. The way it works is that the teachers get raises and benefits, and, in return, they shovel money to the Democrat party. Neither your financial well-being nor your children's academic well-being is the primary consideration for either party.
And that gets us to what's going on now. Across America, people are either back to work or clamoring to get back to work. Why? Because if they don't work, they don't get paid.
Teachers, however, are putting every obstacle they can think of in the way of their returning to work. They're doing this even though the CDC wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that classrooms are not virus-spreading environments. "There has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission."
Again, why is this? It's because they're still getting paid. Frankly, I can't blame them. If I were getting paid my full salary for the bunny-slipper commute, I wouldn't go back to the usual system, either. Of course, the teachers' devotion to their comfort, even as their students are emotionally collapsing and even killing themselves, tells you that the usual non-COVID-era martyrdom (e.g., "the sacrifices we make for your children") is a bunch of hooey.
Things are so bad for students that the City of San Francisco is suing its own school district to get children back in class. According to the lawsuit:
The University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital reported a 75% increase in youth hospitalizations for mental health services and a 66% increase in suicidal children in the emergency room, according to the Associated Press. While it did not provide exact numbers, UCSF Children's Emergency Department at Mission Bay reported surging numbers of suicidal children and youth with eating disorders, depression, and anxiety issues.
And still, the teachers stay home.
The teachers' resistance to classroom teaching, while indecent, makes sense, but what about Biden's weakness on the subject? It turns out that teachers' unions gave more money to Biden than to any other candidate in the 2020 race. He got $232,000 compared to the next closest candidate, Bernie Sanders, who received a piddling $50,996. Biden doesn't want to make enemies out of these dear friends.
The news shows that many communities already have systems in place to return to in-classroom teaching. In other words, Biden can do nothing and eventually take credit for local pressure forcing teachers back into classrooms.
A smart district would do to the teachers what Reagan did to the air traffic controllers: fire all of them. Then it would take the massive amounts of money saved and give it to parents as vouchers to use at private schools (most of which are already open) or to hire tutors for teaching "pods" made up of a few families. Children would probably learn more, and they'd certainly be less indoctrinated.