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Biden’s first major test: Keeping parents of students from losing it

But the Chicago stalemate and recent findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – which say human training leads to low levels of coronavirus as long as schools closely monitor safety measures – create an immediate flashpoint for the president, along with potential political vulnerabilities.

“This is one of the few issues that will have some starts and stops – and [it’s] great challenge for [the White House]”, Admitted Steve Barr, a longtime political activist from the Democratic Party and an operative and founder of a charter school organization in Los Angeles. Barr said he agreed with the White House̵

7;s insistence on a large financial package, but stressed that the new administration must sharpen its message and propose detailed plans to encourage lawmakers and the public to support it.

“They should be able to sell it,” Bar added.

However, the sale will not be easy. Republicans are already criticizing the White House’s caution about rebuilding schools suggests that it has been respected by teachers’ unions. They cite the CDC’s article as new evidence that the debate has settled over whether the reopening of K-12 schools contributes significantly to the spread of the virus. And they cite tens of billions of dollars that Congress has already allocated to open schools as proof that the issue is not a matter of money.

Private GOP operatives are confident they can drive a wedge between Biden, teachers and parents who are exhausted from months of school closures.

“This is a very difficult political position for the White House, which has to choose between its teachers’ union voters and very angry parents,” said Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that supports Republican candidates. senate.

House Republican Kevin McCarthy reiterated calls for personal training to begin immediately as congressional operatives prepare to address Democrats on the issue.

“We definitely plan to do that,” said Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Committee on Congress. “The politically toxic position for Joe Biden and the Democrats is that they deny science in favor of the teachers’ union and the millions of dollars their party benefits from.”

A close ally of the White House rejected the Republican Republic, saying it was “horrifying and important revealing” that with many schools closed and thousands dying every day, “those who exacerbate these unprecedented crises are standing in the way of the resources they desperately need.” … they already recognize what they really care about. “

Labor leaders and Democratic officials on Capitol Hill, where Biden councilors are busy drafting their $ 2 billion recovery plan, stressed that schools are underfunded to begin with and say Republicans do not recognize how expensive is distance learning. They added that schools had to deal with the significant “learning losses” caused by the pandemic, and that the $ 130 billion more schools they would receive from Biden’s plan would go a long way in meeting those needs.

“Teachers know how important personal instruction is, but we need to make it safe,” said Randy Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Testing and vaccination, as well as disguise and distancing, are crucial, as is placement for educators at risk. Unfortunately, the severe failures of the previous administration made our task more difficult than it should have been. “

The political landscape surrounding the reopening of schools has changed dramatically in recent weeks. For most of the pandemic, Democrats blamed the spiral virus and the subsequent school closures of former President Donald Trump and his education minister, Betsy Devos. The two repeatedly pressured schools to open during the pandemic, even threatening to take funding from other inmates. But they opposed the issuance of federal directives to resume or follow up Covid cases in the classroom.

At the time, Democrats cited opinion polls, which found widespread skepticism about schools resuming regular classes. They also fought attempts by Trump and CSO lawmakers to impose the money – such as limiting funding to countries that reopened schools, dismissing it as the wrong education policy. Meanwhile, education groups and unions have complained of conflicting and unclear federal guidelines.

The Trump administration, which has largely frozen unions, has also been sharply criticized after political officials interfered in school rebuilding policies.

But now the Democrats have to deliver to Biden. He made the reopening of most K-8 schools a top priority in the first 100 days, and his team acknowledged that they relied heavily on unions to help them achieve their goals. Biden has also instructed the ministries of education, as well as health and social services, to develop new guidelines for the safe opening of schools and the monitoring of school closures across the country. His Covid team outlined the need for widespread vaccinations for teachers, testing materials and contact tracking support.

So far, Biden and his team have kept close to the union’s position and made sure to consult with their leaders. Several teachers’ union staff were part of Biden’s agency review teams. Last week, two employees of the National Education Association were appointed to senior management positions in the Ministry of Education. And Anthony Fauci, the state’s top infectious disease official, will hold a chat with the fire in front of union officials Thursday night to discuss the release of vaccines.

The level of cooperation is “quite different from anything we’ve ever had,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.

“We already had information, but I absolutely expect that we will continue to have this information,” Pringle said in an interview. “And I have no doubt that he will get an opinion from his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, when she finishes teaching in her class at the end of the day.”

Weingarten also briefed White House staff on the dispute between teachers and school staff in Chicago, the country’s third-largest district. And after describing his discussions with the president to the Chicago Sun-Times, Biden judged this controversial battle by seemingly backing teachers’ concerns in Chicago.

“The teachers I know – they want to work,” Biden said. “[W]They need to make school classrooms safe and secure for students, for teachers and for the help in those schools that maintain these facilities. “

One of the next major school opening events could come when the Biden administration issued new recommendations to the CDC on how and when schools should operate during a pandemic. In his first full-time job, Biden ordered federal agencies to coordinate the development of “evidence-based” guidelines for schools, colleges, and child care providers. But these updated recommendations are likely to add new fuel to the raging debate across the country on how to deal with school opening.

At the White House on Wednesday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she would not enter into hypothetical scenarios as to what Biden would do if Congress refused to act on the stimulus request.

“No one wants to talk in May or June about why schools are not reopening,” Psaki said, returning to the need to adopt the funding package.

But Pringle said much of the complexity and nuance of the science behind rebuilding schools has been lost as the issue becomes a political hotspot.

“We already see people quoting from the CDC saying, ‘The CDC said it’s safe for kids to go back to school,'” Pringle said, “and they don’t read the rest of the sentence,” which emphasizes that this is only true mitigation strategies are strictly followed.

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