The fox is about to get the key to the henhouse. The inmates are running the asylum. These cliches don’t begin to describe the insanity that may soon be reality.
It is well known that Joe Biden supports the teachers’ unions. Since his wife, Jill, is a member of the NEA teachers’ union, he openly declared to the union, “When we win this election, we’re going to get the support you need and the respect you deserve. You don’t just have a partner in the White House, you’ll have an NEA member in the White House. And if I’m not listening, I’m going to be sleeping alone in the Lincoln Bedroom.” Little did we know how serious he was.
William McGurn, writing in The Wall Street Journal, tells us Biden is now considering the leaders of the two largest teachers’ unions for Secretary of Education. The two names most often mentioned in his discussions are American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and former National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia.
McGurn explains the insanity of this idea: “Everyone has understood that a Biden Education Department would mark a change of direction from the past four years. But to elevate to education secretary someone whose career has been spent fighting any reform aimed at relaxing the teachers unions’ stranglehold on the public schools would be an astonishingly bleak admission about whose interests come first.”
“Appointing either Weingarten or Garcia would be the biggest union payback since Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education in 1979,” says Jeanne Allen, who is founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform and worked in the Reagan Education Department. “It’s a sign that the teachers’ unions now own him lock, stock, and barrel.”
The teachers’ unions have made it clear they prefer school lockdowns to education. I have written about this in earlier posts (Teachers Unions Weaponize Covid-19) (Children Suffering Under Covid and Teachers Unions).
There is no question that lockdowns are hurting the education of children. A recent Stanford University study of 19 states estimates that students lost on average between 57 to 183 days of learning in reading and 136 to 232 days in math during the spring closures. New York City students lost 122 days in reading and 209 days in math – essentially a year of education in a few months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said, “In person learning is in the best interest of students, when compared to virtual learning.” The CDC has further laid out guidelines for how schools can reopen safely. Instead of cooperating, however, the teachers unions have largely held students hostage to their demands.
McGurn gives us an example. Resistance from the teachers unions forced the District of Columbia to scrap a plan that would have brought about 7,000 kids back for limited in-person learning starting November 9. These were among the most at-risk students in Washington’s school system. The Washington Post reported the president of the Washington Teachers Union characterized the cancellation as a “win.”
These school closures are justified by the teachers unions on health grounds, claiming they are necessary to protect teachers and staff from Covid-19. But they have been embarrassed that private and parochial schools have managed, often working with a far smaller staff and less resources, to resume classroom instruction while keeping the virus at bay. Recent closures of schools in New York City were declared necessary by the teachers unions despite the fact that merely 0.074% of students have tested positive over the last two months, and only 0.0011% on November 11, the day of the order. That’s one in a hundred thousand children.
If Biden actually goes through with this idea to place a teachers’ union president in charge of the Department of Education, he might as well change the name to the Department of Teachers Unions – since education will be their least priority.