Commentary on politics and taxpayer supported k-12 schools

Karol Markowicz

A few weeks ago, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the abysmal results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress regarding 9-year-olds. “The nation’s report card,” as the assessment’s crafters like it to be known, had found the sharpest drop ever in mathematics and the steepest decline in reading in over 30 years.

There was no way to escape the damning implications of the extended COVID-19 school closures or Democrats’ owning the lion’s share of the blame for them, so Jean-Pierre tried to deflect: “In less than six months, our schools went from 46% to nearly all of them open to full time. That was the work of this president, and that was the work of Democrats in spite of Republicans not voting for the American Rescue Plan, [of] which $130 billion went to schools to be able to have the ventilation, to have the tutoring and the teachers and being able to hire more teachers, and that was because of the work that this administration did.”

This is a lie Democrats are increasingly telling themselves and anyone who will listen because they need the villains of this particular story to somehow be transformed in the public’s imagination into the heroes. The arsonists want to be remembered as the firefighters.

But the reality wholeheartedly refutes the spin. Before President Joe Biden even took office in January 2021, he set a very unambitious goal to get schools open in the first 100 days. One problem: That 100-day goal meant children would finally head back to regular school in May, right around the time schools around the country were shutting down for the summer. In the end, it wouldn’t matter. The 100-day plan would run headlong into the same roadblock that had kept schools closed before Biden became president: Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers who had directed the Democratic officials in her pocket to fall in line.

During a press briefing on Feb. 9, 2021, then-press secretary Jen Psaki suddenly backtracked on what “open schools” meant to the president. “His goal that he set is to have the majority of schools, so more than 50%, open by Day 100 of his presidency. And that means some teaching in classrooms, so at least one day a week. Hopefully, it’s more. And obviously, it is as much as is safe in each school and local district.” Asked to clarify, Psaki answered, “Well, teaching at least one day a week in the majority of schools by Day 100.”