Democrats Are Still Trying to Cover Up Their Dominant Role in Catastrophic School Closings

News & Politics

Reason.com’s Matt Welch has written a devastating piece on the Democrat’s continuing efforts to wash their hands of the “generational education catastrophe” caused by Democratic politicians and Biden administration demands that schools continue to be closed despite mountains of evidence and real-world experience that it wasn’t necessary.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday, after a White House “Fact Sheet” on school closings had been published, that school closings were all Trump’s fault.

She claimed, “when the president walked [into office], more than 50 percent of schools were shut down because of COVID, because the last administration didn’t have a plan—didn’t have a comprehensive plan—to deal with COVID and what it was doing to our economy and what it was doing to our kids. And because the president put…schools reopening and businesses reopening and making sure that people got shots in arms, made that a priority, we were able to open up the schools.”

It’s a load of crap, of course.  Where most European countries had rejected school closures, Democrats and their allies in the teacher’s union refused to follow their example. The result was the worst test scores in a generation, a record number of teens reporting mental health issues, and what many education experts are now referring to as a “lost generation.”

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In the summer of 2020, Donald Trump urged the schools to reopen. Some governors, like Ron DeSantis, heeded that call. But blue state governors, under the sway of the teacher’s unions, refused. The result was an unmitigated — and avoidable — disaster. “Such a long-term absence from schools and colleges has not only caused worse learning outcomes that are causing intergenerational inequalities, but also induced multiple physical and mental health issues and even crises among students at all levels,” said the Journal of Global Health Reports.

“If we do this wrong, we will put lives at risk and set our economy and our country back,” Biden warned while unveiling a plan that conditioned reopening on $58 billion in additional federal aid.

Welch wrote at Reason:

Such fearmongering was routine for the types of teachers unions that First Lady Jill Biden belongs to. Union demonstrations against reopening in the fall of 2020, usually in Democratic-dominated cities, featured such subtle props as coffins, body bags, and gravestones; an American Federation for Teachers (AFT) anti-Trump ad that August claimed that “our kids are being used as guinea pigs.” The states that closed their schools most—Hawaii, Maryland, Washington, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts—did not have in common levels of infection, or hospital capacity, or mortality; but rather that they each voted for Biden over Trump by double-digit margins.

DeSantis was right, Biden was wrong, and by now even NPR education reporters admit that the remote learning favored by Democratically governed jurisdictions has been a generational catastrophe, triggering a parental stampede out of free-of-charge, government-run schools.

The Biden administration was well aware of the minor threat of COVID-19 to kids under 18. The CDC reported just 1,689 of the 1,141,899 deaths attributed to COVID were kids under the age of 18 — almost half that under the age of five. By February 2021, the CDC knew that schools should reopen but preferred to listen to Randi Weingarten and the teachers’ union.

New York Post:

The lobbying paid off. In at least two instances, language “suggestions” offered by the union were adopted nearly verbatim into the final text of the CDC document.

With the CDC preparing to write that schools could provide in-person instruction regardless of community spread of the virus, Trautner argued for the inclusion of a line reading “In the event of high community-transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.” That language appeared on page 22 of the final CDC guidance.

The AFT also demanded special remote work concessions for teachers “who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk for … COVID-19,” and that similar arrangements should extend to “staff who have a household member” with similar risks. A lengthy provision for that made it into the text of the final guidance.

That “high community transmission” line sealed the fate of millions of children. Not that it mattered: kids weren’t getting COVID-19 anyway.

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Remember when Biden vowed that a majority of K-12 public schools would be open within his first 100 days in office? That number slipped to “one day a week” by the third week of his presidency. Again, it was lobbying from teachers that swayed the White House.

You can understand why Joe Biden wants to falsely portray himself as a champion of reopening, just as you can see why—of all people—so does Randi Weingarten: Extended school closures, long after the survey data and global experience argued convincingly against them, constituted one of the most egregious public policy failures in modern American history, the aftereffects of which are still massively reshaping American kids, families, education systems, and cities. They are deservedly unpopular, with few people beyond opinion-journalism trolls still attempting to defend them.

No one in government and few in the media will ever be held accountable for this disaster. It’s a consequence of living in a nation where one party is massively favored over another.

And it’s why trying to address the issues around this generational education catastrophe will fail. To do that, you first have to admit your errors. And the Democrats are too busy either ignoring their mistakes or trying to blame Republicans to be interested in fixing anything.

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