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Monday, March 29, 2021

President Biden Breaks With His Allies on School Reopenings

President Biden Breaks With His Allies on School Reopenings
Biden’s First Big Break With His Allies Is Over School Reopenings

As Joe Biden took office, the Republican Party had no specific plan to discredit the genial and popular new president, but it did have one clean line of attack: Biden would be too beholden to teachers unions to permit a reopening of public schools. “ ‘Unions Above Children’ is the new motto of the Democrats’ plan to reopen schools,” proclaimed the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
It all made perfect sense. Teachers unions had lavished Democrats with donations and votes, and Biden had repeatedly promised during the campaign to give teachers (including, as he often mentioned, his wife) a strong hand in his education agenda. And indeed, Biden has broadly pleased his party’s left flank. He has given former Bernie Sanders staffers important posts and pushed aggressively for a generous stimulus bill while Larry Summers has wrung his hands from the sidelines. The left, which usually begins expressing its disillusionment within hours of a Democratic president’s inauguration, has instead enjoyed a honeymoon period that has lasted into the spring. On the whole, Biden’s presidency has taken on an unexpectedly progressive cast without the customary intraparty factional strife.

And yet on education, the issue on which most everybody expected Biden to veer left, he has instead swerved right. He has confounded and defied the teachers unions on a crucial policy decision. His choice to prioritize the rapid reopening of schools has surprised and dismayed his friends and his enemies alike.

The first sign that Biden might not follow the script came in late December, when he nominated Miguel Cardona as Education secretary. Biden’s staunchly pro-union campaign rhetoric had created the expectation that he would give the post either to a known union ally or perhaps a union CONTINUE READING:  President Biden Breaks With His Allies on School Reopenings