But the stalemate in Chicago and the latest findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – which ones wrote that personal learning leads to little dissemination of coronavirus, as long as schools closely follow security measures – create an immediate focal point for the president, along with potential political vulnerabilities.
“This is one of several problems that some starts and stops will have – and [it’s] a great challenge for [the White House]”Admitted Steve Barr, a longtime Democratic political activist and agent and founder of a charter school organization in Los Angeles. Barr said he agreed with the White House’s request for a major financial package, but stressed that the new administration was sharpening its message and offer detailed plans to get lawmakers and the public to support it.
“You have to be able to sell it,” added Barr.
However, it won’t be easy to sell. Republicans are already criticizing the White House’s caution in reopening schools, suggesting that this is thanks to the teachers’ unions. They point to the CDC article as new evidence that the debate is settled over whether reopening K-12 schools is making a significant contribution to the spread of the virus. And they cite the tens of billions of dollars that Congress has already allocated to reopen schools as evidence that it’s not about money.
Privately, GOP employees are confident they can cut a wedge between Biden, teachers, and parents exhausted from the months of school closure.
“It is a very difficult political position for the White House to find themselves in and to choose between their teachers’ union voters and many angry parents,” said Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, a super-PAC that supports it Candidate for the Republican Senate.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly called for personal learning to begin immediately as Congressmen prepare to target Democrats over the issue.
“We definitely plan on following people on this matter,” said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “It is a politically toxic position for Joe Biden and Democrats to deny science in favor of the teachers union and the millions of dollars that make up their party.”
A close White House ally pushed the GOP back, saying it was “appalling and, most importantly, instructive” that with many schools closed and thousands dying every day, “those who are exacerbating these unprecedented crises by depleting the resources in the house.” Paths that are desperately needed … are already admitting what is really important to them. “
Union leaders and Democratic officials on Capitol Hill, where Biden’s advisors are busy crafting their nearly $ 2 billion recovery plan, have insisted that schools are underfunded at first, claiming little recognition on the Republican side became how costly distance learning was. Schools have to deal with the significant “learning losses” caused by the pandemic, and the roughly $ 130 billion more schools are receiving from the Biden Plan would largely meet those needs.
“Teachers know the importance of face-to-face teaching, but we need to make it safe,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Tests and vaccinations, and masking and distancing, are just as important as housing educators at risk. Unfortunately, the previous administration’s grave mistakes made our job more difficult than it should be. “
The political landscape surrounding the reopening of schools has changed dramatically in recent weeks. During much of the pandemic, Democrats blamed former President Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for the worsening virus and the resulting school closings. The two repeatedly pushed for schools to reopen during the pandemic and even threatened to cut funding from those who stayed closed. However, they opposed the issuance of federal guidelines on reopening schools or prosecuting Covid cases in classrooms.
At the time, Democrats pointed to survey data that found widespread skepticism about schools returning to teaching in person on a regular basis. They also resisted attempts by Trump and GOP lawmakers to strain the money – for example, restricting funding to states that have reopened schools – and dismissed it as bogus education policies. Education groups and unions, meanwhile, have been complaining about conflicting and vague federal guidelines.
So was the Trump administration, which largely froze the unions sharply criticized after political officials disrupted the policy of reopening schools.
Now, however, the Democrats must deliver for Biden. He has made reopening most of the K-8 schools a major priority in the first 100 days, and his team recognizes that they rely heavily on unions to achieve their goals. Biden has also tasked education ministries and health and social services to develop new guidelines for safely reopening schools and tracking school closings across the country. His Covid team explained the need for comprehensive vaccinations for teachers, test materials and support with contact tracing.
So far, at least, Biden and his team have held close to the union position and consulted with their leaders. Several teachers’ union officials were part of the Biden Interim Agency’s review teams. Last week, two employees from the National Education Association were appointed to senior positions in the Department of Education. And Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease official, will have a fireside chat with union officials on Thursday evening to discuss the introduction of vaccines.
The level of collaboration is “very different from anything we’ve ever had,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.
“We already had input, but I absolutely assume that we will continue to have that input,” said Pringle in an interview. “And I have no doubt that when she finishes teaching her class at the end of the day, he will receive contributions from his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.”
Weingarten also briefed White House officials on the dispute between teachers and school officials in Chicago, the third largest borough in the country. And after describing her conversations with the President to the Chicago Sun-TimesBiden weighed in on this controversial struggle by appearing to endorse the Chicago teachers’ concerns.
“The teachers I know – they want to work,” said Biden. “[W]We should make school classes safe and secure for the students, for the teachers, and for the help that is provided in these schools in maintaining these facilities. “
One of the next major developments in school reopening could come if the Biden government issues new CDC recommendations on how and when schools should operate during the pandemic. On his first full day in office, Biden ordered federal authorities to coordinate the development of “evidence-based guidance” for schools, universities and childcare workers. But these updated recommendations are likely to fuel the heated debates across the country about how to deal with school openings.
At the White House Wednesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said she would not dive into hypothetical scenarios about what Biden would do if Congress refused to respond to the call for proposals.
“Nobody wants to have a conversation in May or June about why schools aren’t reopening,” said Psaki, returning to the need to pass the funding package.
But Pringle said much of the complexity and nuance of science behind school reopening has been lost as the subject becomes a political topic of conversation.
“We already see people quote from the CDC saying,” The CDC said it was safe for children to go back to school, “Pringle said,” and they don’t read the rest of the sentence, “which underscores this only applies if the mitigation strategies are strictly followed.