Mounting evidence shows that schools can be reopened safely amid the continued COVID-19 public health crisis, prompting increasingly bipartisan support for the resumption of most, if not all, in-person learning for U.S. students.
Much of the remaining opposition, however, comes from teachers’ unions and the politicians who are beholden to them — apparently including President Joe Biden.
Union money pours in
As Fox News reported, Biden’s wishy-washy position on the issue comes after he received a significant sum of money in the form of campaign contributions from such unions last year.
In fact, revelations show that Biden received far more than any other candidate running for any public office in 2020, including from the nation’s top teachers’ unions — predominantly the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
Based on figures compiled by Open Secrets, a website operated by the Center for Responsive Politics, Biden received a combined sum of at least $232,000 from these unions. For the sake of comparison, the second-largest recipient was the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), which took in a relatively paltry $51,000.
Furthermore, these figures represent only direct donations to a specific campaign, ignoring indirect spending by unions through ad campaigns or donations to political action committees.
As Fox News noted, a comprehensive tally indicates that Biden and the Democratic Party benefited indirectly from the combined $43 million in political expenditures by the NEA and AFT.
“I think that’s a little bit unfair”
With tens of millions of dollars flowing into the political campaign season, speculation has abounded that the unions might be playing a role in Biden’s reluctance to announce a concrete plan for returning students to the classroom.
During a recent exchange with one reporter, White House press secretary Jen Psaki skirted a question about whether the “students or the teachers” would win if the president were forced to announce “a binary decision” on the issue.
“I think that’s a little bit unfair how you pose that question,” Psaki responded, proceeding to assert that Biden and teachers stood together with parents in the desire to see schools safely reopened as soon as possible.
The issue came up again during Friday’s White House press briefing, once again revealing an apparent unwillingness to provide specifics.
When asked whether Biden would “use the power of the bully pulpit to help cajole teachers who are unwilling to go to school to go back,” Psaki retorted: “I’m just going to reject the premise of the question.”