How School Closures Made Me Question My Progressive Politics

Rebecca Bodenheimer:

I probably should have inferred that becoming a school-reopening advocate would not go over well in my progressive Oakland community, but I didn’t anticipate the social repercussions, or the political identity crisis it would trigger for me. My own experience, as a self-described progressive in ultra-lefty Oakland, is just one example of how people across the political spectrum have become frustrated with Democrats’ position on school reopenings.

Parents who advocated for school reopening were repeatedly demonized on social media as racist and mischaracterized as Trump supporters. Members of the parent group I helped lead were consistently attacked on Twitter and Facebook by two Oakland moms with ties to the teachers union. They labelled advocates’ calls for schools reopening “white supremacy” called us “Karens,” and even bizarrely claimed we had allied ourselves with Marjorie Taylor Greene’s transphobic agenda. 

There was no recognition of the fact that we were advocating for our kids, who were floundering in remote learning, or that public schools across the country (in red states) opened in fall 2020 without major outbreaks, as did private schools just miles from our home. Only since last fall, when schools reopened successfully despite the more contagious Delta variant circulating, have Democratic pundits and leaders been talking about school closures as having caused far more harm than benefit. 

Some progressive parents now admit they were too afraid of the blowback from their communities to speak up. And they were right to be wary. We paid a price.

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