School Reopenings Are Political, But They Shouldn’t Be

School Reopenings Are Political, But They Shouldn’t Be

Parents around the country are growing increasingly frustrated with the fact that many of their children have not received in-person schooling for almost a full year.

This growing opposition, as recorded by Pew Research, is largely due to the difficulties and dangers that come with remote learning and concerns about children’s mental health and educational growth. While countries such as Europe ensured that schools were serving with students’ best mental, physical, and social interests in mind, allowing classroom learning during COVID-19 lockdowns and prioritizing a swift and safe return for as many educators and students as possible, cities and states led by Democratic politicians are failing to deliver the same options to American children and working families.

Teachers unions, which are primarily supported by leftists, progressive activists, and Democratic politicians, are also stifling the return of students, ignoring the mitigation strategies such as masking, physical distance, and even limited classrooms to demand virtual learning for an indefinite period of time.

One of the many frustrated parents, a self-proclaimed “progressive,” shared her thoughts online, condemning the politicization of school reopenings simply because “Trump said open schools, so we must keep them closed at all costs.”

“I have never felt so alienated from the people I usually align myself with politically,” Dr. Rebecca Bodenheimer wrote. “I will never understand how the left in this country has decided that advocating for putting kids first is somehow right-wing. I’m hearing from progressive parents all the time who are so infuriated about the Democratic apathy around school reopening — from politicians like Gavin Newsom, who are willing to allow their stances to be dictated by teachers’ unions — that they’re considering supporting the recall effort, maybe even switching parties.”

Doing what’s best for kids, such as pushing for school reopenings, should not be an issue that requires people to forsake their “ideology” or attempts at “being a good leftist,” as Bodenheimer notes in her rant. But as she correctly observes, “schools are largely open in red states and closed in blue ones,” showcasing the blatant lack of concern for children’s well-being and a priority on politics in Democrat-dominated regions.

“Last March we didn’t know any better. But now we know — and we’ve known for months,” she wrote.

It is evident from Burbio’s K-12 School Opening Tracker that red states such as Texas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Florida are overwhelmingly granting their students the opportunity to fully learn in the classroom five days a week, with students in nearly all of their counties operating in a 100 percent traditional school setting. Bluer, coastal states such as New York, California, and Oregon, however, are overwhelmingly keeping students at home with remote learning. Only some of the many blue states’ most rural districts are choosing to accommodate even a simple hybrid learning schedule, allowing kids certain days and times to be in the classroom instead of staring at a screen.

 

Many of these Democrat bastions such as Illinois are home to big Chicago-esque cities and school districts, which are heavily influenced by the kicking, screaming, and striking by anti-science teachers unions. In these areas, even small attempts to bring a limited number of younger students back to in-person learning are met with strong pushback from teachers unions that claim the return is unsafe and will lead to the deaths of staff and students, resulting in a backslide into virtual learning for children as young as 4 years old.

The science on reopening is clear: Children need to be in school for the sake of their mental health, COVID-19 transmission between students and even their teachers is low, and school reopenings do not cause massive, deadly virus outbreaks. Unfortunately, the politics is also clear: If you’re in a Democratic city or state or your life is ruled by a Democrat-led executive branch’s orders, your kids won’t be going back to school for a while.

The Biden administration’s new school reopening guidelines justify keeping many schools closed simply based on the rate of community COVID-19 transmission in certain areas. This guidance, which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky publicly admitted was informed by the opinions of anti-in-person-learning teachers unions, also leaves approximately 83 percent of counties closed for sports and extracurricular activities.

“I just don’t know how anyone can sit by and think this is an acceptable state of affairs for a developed country — it just makes my blood boil to see how little this country cares about kids,” Bodenheimer concluded in bewilderment. “All of Europe has done the right thing — schools are last to close, first to open. It’s simply not a political stance in Europe (as it is here) to say we need to reopen schools for the sake of kids wellbeing and emotional and academic development.”

Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.
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