by Julie Kelly
For all their devastating, long-term side effects, the various failed remedies to COVID-19 have been clarifying.
The “expert” class, in case it was still unclear to anyone, is overrun not with critical thinkers devoted to scientific inquiry but hyperpartisan hacks with a hive mind no better than that of a typical seventh-grade cheer squad. The scientific method is dead; in its place is a multitiered campaign to bully, silence, and cancel anyone who dares to challenge their unchallengeable expertise.
Political leaders on both sides of the aisle are as clueless as they are callous. Little daylight exists between Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican Governor Mike DeWine.
The majority of Americans, sadly, quickly submit to the whims of the expert class to the point of self-destruction. Millions of Americans are doubling up on face coverings because Master Fauci said to do so and they are prepared to harass others into compliance as well.
But the biggest takeaway is this: The Democratic Party will never again get away with claiming that their number one priority is “the children.”
Joe Biden and the Democrats just lost their most overused political prop—exploited to advance every policy from climate to health care—as tens of millions of American children, locked out of their classrooms for almost a year, act as human pawns in the unions’ biggest, most brazen shakedown yet.
The hustle has been underway since March 2020; unbeknownst both to students and parents, America’s youth of all ages walked out of classrooms and off college campuses not to return for months on end.
Back then, as today, no scientific justification existed to shut down schools. The decision was based on the now-discredited Imperial College model created by now-discredited British scientist Neil Ferguson. Armed with no reliable data, Ferguson nonetheless warned that unless schools were closed in the United States, millions would die of the disease.
Teachers’ unions and their stooges in Congress wasted no time exploiting the crisis—and the gravy train quickly delivered. Over the past 10 months, colleges and K-12 schools have received at least $114 billion in federal COVID “relief” funding; the CARES Act allocated roughly $34 billion for shuttered schools and the bipartisan package passed in December gave away another $80 billion—despite no disruption in the flow of federal, state, and real estate tax revenues that fund the nation’s public school systems.
And now that their Big Guy is in the White House, teachers’ unions across the country have their hands out again with a boot on the collective neck of helpless families suffering under the burden of “remote” learning. Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion relief package includes another $170 billion to schools and colleges to “open safely” in the first 100 days of the Biden Administration.
“We need new ventilation for those schools, we need testing for those coming in and out of the classes, we need testing for teachers, as well as students, and we need the capacity, the capacity to know the fact of the circumstance in the school is safe and secure for everyone,” Biden said in a response to a question about Chicago public school teachers refusing to return to class. “So it is not so much about the idea of teachers not going to work. The teachers I know, they want to work.”
Makes you wonder how many teachers he knows.
But that’s not all. Biden’s kickback to the teachers’ unions includes an additional $350 billion in “state and local relief funds to help school districts close budget gaps and provide additional resources for reopening.” In other words, more pay raises and major bailouts of big city pension liabilities. (Chicago owes $32 billion in unpaid pension debt to city workers, including teachers. New York City is a whopping $51 billion in the hole.)
So in less than a year, public school systems could, if Biden’s plan wins congressional approval, rake in at least $630 billion while American schoolchildren fall further behind, struggle with depression and loneliness, miss out on extracurricular activities, and irretrievably lose rites of passage central to a healthy childhood.
All for the kids, they say!
Despite Biden’s solemn pledge to “follow the science,” continued school closures are backed not by data but by greed—and politics. When President Trump began calling for schools to reopen last spring, Democrats and teachers’ unions pushed back hard. His demands, school officials claimed, backfired. “Mr. Trump’s aggressive, often bellicose demands for reopening classrooms helped to harden the views of many educators that it would be unsafe—and give their powerful unions fodder to demand stronger safety measures or to resist efforts to physically reopen,” the New York Times reported last August.
Just as children were supposed to be headed back in the fall, one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions issued its ransom demands. “We all want to get back to in-person learning, but that should not happen until there are COVID-19 safety measures in place and the funding to pay for them,” Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, said in September. “While the president never misses an opportunity to threaten schools, or to sow confusion or chaos, he and [Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos were missing in action when it came to planning and resourcing what should have been the country’s biggest priority: reopening schools for our kids.”
Hostage takers disguised as teachers’ unions are defiantly keeping kids out of school until Biden comes through, just as more research proves school settings do not act as vectors for the virus. Teachers in Fairfax County, Virginia insisted on being at the top of the state’s vaccination list before they’d go back to work; as vaccines are administered to teachers and staff, the school system still refuses to open up, threatening to extend closures into the fall of 2021.
Maryland’s education association is fighting with Governor Larry Hogan over his calls to open the schools. One union official in Washington state said reopening schools is a sign of “white supremacy.”
Cruel, unscientific school closures are taking a major, even deadly, toll on the country’s youth. The Times reported over the weekend that Las Vegas schools finally opened after a spike in student suicides. Other states report similar surges in suicide attempts, drug overdoses, and emergency room visits for mental health issues.
A new study confirms what everyone already knows; poor and minority children are hardest hit by “remote” learning. Researchers at Yale University predict that “one year of school closures will cost ninth graders in the poorest communities a 25% decrease in their post-educational earning potential, even if it is followed by three years of normal schooling. By contrast, their model shows no substantial losses for students from the richest 20% of neighborhoods.”
But the party of the poor and the party of the children and the party of science has one word for families suffering across the country. “Money,” Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on January 26 when asked why public schools are closed while many private schools have been open for months. Not until Congress passes Biden’s massive proposal, Klain said, will “most” schools open in the next 100 days.
Biden not only is using children as pawns to force Congress to greenlight another federally-funded kickback to the unions, he’s burdening these very same children with trillions in debt to repay in the future.
Voters should remember this the next time a Democratic lawmaker or candidate claims his agenda is “for the children.”
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Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than 10 years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture, and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.
Photo “Teachers Strike March” by Charles Edward Miller. CC BY-SA 2.0.