Friday, October 23, 2020

Trump and Biden Finally Talk Schools - The New York Times

Trump and Biden Finally Talk Schools - The New York Times
Trump and Biden Finally Talk Schools
School reopening hasn’t been an issue in the presidential campaign — until last night.

The debate over when and how to reopen schools has been a burning question for parents since the pandemic began. But you wouldn’t know it from the presidential campaign — much to the frustration of families and educators whose daily lives have been disrupted.

“Remote schooling in particular has upended so many parents’ lives for months on end, not to mention the effect it’s having on kids,” said our colleague Abby Goodnough, who wrote about the issue this week. “If nothing else, I think families would like to hear the candidates acknowledge the strain they are under.”

Schools did get some airtime in Thursday night’s debate — but only briefly.

“They need a lot of money to open,” Joe Biden said. “They need to deal with ventilation systems, smaller classes, more teachers, more pods. And [Trump has] refused to support that money, at least until now.” Biden touted his “five-step road map” for reopening schools, and called for “clear, consistent, effective” national guidelines, but did not offer specifics, saying those decisions should be made at the state and local level.

That approach reflects a tactical dilemma: Biden’s supporters are split over whether schools should reopen at all. Some of his strongest support comes from teachers’ unions, which generally have opposed efforts to reopen schools. Other Biden backers, particularly some white college-educated parents, are pushing for schools to open with precautions where community spread is under control.

“In my district, everybody has their Biden yard signs but it’s about a 50-50 split as to who wants their kids back in school,” said Sarah Reckhow, an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University who studies education politics. “It’s a tricky calculus for him.”

President Trump, for his part in the debate, downplayed the risk that teachers and students would contract the coronavirus. He repeated his calls for schools to open, without offering details about additional funding or support from the federal government. “The transmittal rate to the teachers is very small,” he said. “I want to open the schools. The cure cannot be worse than the problem CONTINUE READING: Trump and Biden Finally Talk Schools - The New York Times