Democrats are caught between a rock and a hard place in the dilemma of either reopening schools or antagonizing teachers’ unions that adamantly refuse to return to face-to-face classes.
The American Action Network (AAN), a pro-Republican group, decided to put pressure on House Democrats who are against the return to classes by placing billboards near the closed schools.
The billboards bear the faces of those Democratic representatives who vote against face-to-face classes and in favor of unions, despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already recommended that it is safe to reopen schools.
The lobbying campaign is also aimed at exposing potentially vulnerable Democrats who voted against the Republican-proposed school reopening bill.
The bill, sponsored by Republican congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Iowa, would have granted full federal funding to schools that physically reopened during the pandemic, and penalized districts that remain closed.
Last week, Republican Senators introduced an amendment to withhold federal funds from schools unwilling to reopen their classrooms, but Senate Democrats decided to block that proposal and thus stop schools from reopening.
A good portion of Republicans in Congress have fought the Biden Administration’s reopening of schools, while parents desperately want their children to return to face-to-face classes.
“Even though science shows it is safe for children to return to school, teachers unions continue to keep students out of their classrooms. Liberals in Congress, awash in teacher union cash, are choosing unions over America’s children. Our children have been held back long enough, it’s time for Congress to support safely reopening schools now,” AAN President Dan Conston told Fox News.
Democrats are caught between opening schools or antagonizing teachers
Many teachers’ unions are demanding more coronavirus testing, vaccinations and other safety measures before returning to in-person instruction.
On the one hand Biden has promised to follow the science and reopen schools; however he also enjoys strong support from teachers and their union leadership.
Thousands of Chicago public school teachers, backed by the teachers union, rejected the city’s order to return to in-person work. In Los Angeles, the teachers union joined the school board in pushing back against California Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed school reopening plan, under which only schools that reopen for in-person learning could get their share of $2 billion in additional funding.
School reopenings, a fact supported by the evidence
Late last year, Congress passed legislation that included $54.3 billion for public schools, a figure on top of the $13 billion provided in March 2020 to school districts through the Cares Act. “This is more than the federal government normally spends on education in an entire year,” Rubio said.
Margaret A. Honein, lead author of the JAMA report, quoted by The Washington Post, said, “The bottom line is that with the right prevention efforts we can keep transmission in schools and educational settings at a fairly low level.”
The researcher further commented that studies showed that even in places with high infection rates there is no evidence that schools transmit the virus at higher levels than those observed in the community. He clarified, however, that this will always depend on continuing to take all sanitary precautions.
In that regard, the CDC recommends that all schools apply the following measures: use of masks, six-feet of distance between people and that the same groups of students attend classes to limit the number of people to be quarantined in case of outbreaks of infection.
“With good prevention we can safely reopen and keep more schools open,” added Honein, CDC’s coronavirus task force leader for state and local health departments.
However, despite the evidence and the CDC’s recommendation to reopen schools, Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, said virtual learning should be prolonged.