On schools, Kamala Harris does a perfect Irwin Corey imitation
Americans need to get their kids back in school. Where there are powerful teachers' unions, though, the teachers have discovered the joys of a bunny slipper commute, a minimal workday, and a full paycheck. When NBC's Savannah Guthrie pressed Kamala Harris on the new administration's plan to restart classroom learning, Harris replied with non-responsive, meaningless, double talk. Had she been auditioning for an Irwin Corey homage, it would have impressive. As it was, it showed both an administration and a vice president that are incompetent.
When it comes to educating children in 2021, there are a few important facts: the CDC acknowledges that schools are not disease vectors and teachers can safely return even if they're not vaccinated. America's kids are deeply depressed and the young ones are missing out on important education milestones, especially minority children.
The Biden administration is changing its story on an almost daily basis when it comes to schools reopening. It's so bad that even the Associated Press has taken notice:
President Joe Biden is in a political firestorm over how and when to get more schools open amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Republicans seizing on confusion surrounding Biden's goal to reopen a majority of schools within his first 100 days to paint the president as beholden to teachers' unions at the expense of American families.
His administration in recent weeks has sent muddled and at times contradictory messages about Biden's goal. On Tuesday night, the president said his 100-day goal was to have most elementary schools open five days a week, seeming to conflict with his own press secretary, who had said last week that schools would be considered "open" if they held in-person classes even one day a week.
On Wednesday, Kamala Harris appeared on NBC's Today Show with Savannah Guthrie and succeeded in making things worse. That's where Irwin Corey comes in. He was a comedian whose shtick was to pose as an expert who would then inundate people with a meaningless wall of words:
Faced with Guthrie's probing questions, Kamala spouted streams of pointless platitudes that would have made Irwin Corey proud.
When Guthrie noted that the CDC has tied school openings to a county's infection rate, creating a scenario in which 90% of schools cannot open, Kamala blathered about how everyone wants schools to open. Guthrie pressed on, trying to get a statement about the CDC guidelines, especially when contrasted with the CDC's admission that schools are safe for both students and teachers. Kamala again produced a torrent of words about wanting schools to open.
Guthrie tried again, this time asking about Biden's shifting promises regarding school openings. Kamala babbled that kids really need to be in school and they're suffering emotionally and developmentally when they're not. Again, it was non-responsive, as well as telling parents something they already know.
Gamely, Guthrie switched to the vaccination question, pointing out that the CDC has said teachers do not need a vaccine to return to classrooms but that the teachers nevertheless are refusing to teach. She asked Kamala to "reassure" teachers that all is well. Kamala responded by saying the Biden administration wants teachers to be a priority (presumably, a priority in the vaccination queue). Once again, she didn't answer the question.
At the end of the interview, one is left with three explanations for Kamala's bizarre performance: she's really stupid, she's too uninformed to answer the questions, or she's desperately and clumsily trying to cover for the fact that the Biden administration cannot control the teachers because it's beholden to the teachers' unions. The fact that Kamala's senior adviser and chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, also couldn't answer the school re-opening questions suggests that the third option is the correct one. Because, really, they can't all be that stupid, can they?
CNN’s John Berman confronts VP spokeswoman Symone Sanders on the administration’s position about whether teachers should be vaccinated before kids go back to school: “It’s not a trick question”pic.twitter.com/FMhekdJQGR— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 17, 2021
At the end of the day, Biden is weak. He has no functional plan because he has no political power or moral suasion over teachers. Smart school districts should copy Reagan's approach to the air traffic controllers and fire teachers who won't return to classrooms. Then give parents vouchers equal to the cost of their child's year in public school, which parents can then spend on private schools or pod learning (hiring tutors for groups of children).
Image: Kamala Harris on the Today show. YouTube screen grab.