Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” with host Chris Wallace, Louisiana GOP Senator Bill Cassidy bluntly stated that the enormous sum of money that President Biden has stipulated for public schools in order to get them to reopen is not only “110% of what they usually receive from the federal government,” but that the issue of getting children back into public schools was not the lack of funding but rather “the teachers’ unions telling their teachers not to go to work.”
Cassidy also pointed out that Biden giving the massive funding to public schools was a political move, as the teachers’ unions are generally a strong Democratic constituency.
“As part of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal, Biden is urging Congress to provide $170 billion to educational institutions, including $130 billion to assist K-12 schools in reopening safely,” MarketWatch reported on January 15.
He has $170 billion for schools. Now, we’ve already given schools 110% of what they usually receive from the federal government. Parochial schools have opened with a fraction of that money. Charter schools are open; the real problem is public schools. That issue is not money; that issue is teachers’ unions telling their teachers not to go to work. And putting $170 billion towards teachers’ unions’ priorities takes care of a Democratic constituency group, but it wastes our federal taxpayer dollars for something which is not the problem.
Congress has sent hundreds of billions to make public schools safer, states have prioritized vaccinating teachers, and study after study shows schools are low risk for transmission.
So yes, the problem IS the teachers unions. https://t.co/A2YrMsJXdQ
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) January 31, 2021
The Cato Institute reported last August on the widespread efforts of teachers’ unions to fight against the reopening of schools:
In July, the Los Angeles teachers union released a report detailing the conditions they identified for a safe reopening of schools. This document went far beyond requesting social distancing plans and personal protective equipment to an agenda that eclipsed both COVID-19 and educational matters. Specifically, it laid out policy requirements for school reopening, including passing Medicare for All at the federal level, raising state taxes, defunding the police, and imposing a moratorium on charter schools.
In Florida, the teachers union waged a court battle against the state’s school reopening plans this fall. In New York City, the teachers union is threatening to strike this week over in‐person school reopening plans. And in Massachusetts, teachers unions recently succeeded in delaying the school start date to later in September, ensuring no funding cuts, and pushing for remote‐only learning in many districts.
Education Next notes that in recent decades national teachers’ unions have “forged an alliance with the Democratic Party”:
Stanford University political scientist Terry Moe, a leading scholar of teachers unions, posited that the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, with nearly 5 million members between them, constitute one of the “most powerful interest groups of any type in any area of public policy,” exerting influence on education policy at all levels of government. These unions shape education policy from the bottom up, through collective bargaining, and from the top down, through political activity.
Since 1990, the AFT and the NEA have regularly been among the top 10 contributors to federal electoral campaigns. They have forged an alliance with the Democratic Party, which receives the vast majority of their hard-money campaign contributions as well as in-kind contributions for get-out-the-vote operations. Teachers-union members regularly constitute at least 10 percent of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention, making them the single largest organizational bloc of Democratic Party activists.
The Atlantic noted last Thursday, “Federal health officials at the CDC this week called for children to return to American classrooms as soon as possible. In an essay in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they wrote that the ‘preponderance of available evidence’ from the fall semester had reassured the agency that with adequate masking, distancing, and ventilation, the benefits of opening schools outweigh the risks of keeping kids at home for months.”
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