Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.) called on President Joe Biden to stand up to the teachers unions and ensure America’s students are learning in-person. President Biden and White House officials have repeatedly said schools should remain open, but some teachers unions continue to undermine in-person education.
“On January 21, 2021, you issued Executive Order 14000 stating, ‘it is the policy of [my] Administration to provide support…for safe, in-person learning as quickly as possible.’ On January 4, 2022, you stated, ‘[w]e know that our kids can be safe when in school…That’s why I believe schools should remain open. They have what they need.’ On January 5, 2022, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki doubled down on your Administration’s commitment to maintain in-person learning stating, ‘we want schools to be open, the President wants them to be open and we’re going to continue to use every resource and work to ensure that’s the case.’ Unfortunately, many Teachers Unions across the country disagree with you and are actively undermining in-person education. It is unclear if you are willing to stand by your statements, stand up to the Unions, and advocate for America’s children. We insist you do so,” wrote Scalise.
Most recently, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to cancel in-person learning and refused to show up to work, despite no scientific basis for their decision. Vaccines are widely available for anyone over five years of age who wants one, $190 billion was allocated to reopen schools safely, and schools have lower transmissibility rates than their surrounding communities. Virtual learning has harmed America’s students as failing grades are rising, child suicide rates are surging, and children and teenagers are experiencing a mental health crisis of historic proportions.
“Teachers unions have repeatedly jeopardized America’s children’s education and livelihoods throughout this pandemic,” continued Scalise. “Talk is cheap unless it is backed up with strong, decisive action. It is imperative that you do everything in your power to ensure students are learning in-person so they can begin to make up all that they have lost throughout this pandemic. We stand ready to assist the Administration in any way we can to ensure our students can learn in-person.”