A new book alleges that President Joe Biden changed his plans to reopen schools after meeting with union boss Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
“For the sake of avoiding conflict, especially conflict with an ally, the Biden administration trimmed its goal of returning kids to school to a fraction of what had been promised on the campaign trail,” writes Franklin Foer, a staff writer for The Atlantic, in his new book The Last Politician.
Foer contends that Biden feared a union “strike” over reopening of schools.
Foer also notes that even Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was powerless against the teachers’ union when she ordered teachers back to school.
Biden “in effect, [conceded] that for thousands of students, the rest of the year would be lost to the pandemic,” and counted that as the “price of peace” with the powerful teachers’ unions, concluded Foer.
In fact, the number of students affected negatively by the 2021 COVID-19 lockdowns were in the millions, not thousands.
There are nearly 50 million public school students in the United States, most of whom were affected by some lockdown in 2021, after Biden became president.
An analysis by The New York Times and Stanford University showed that hundreds of thousands of students never return to the classroom.
A recent study by the Federal Reserve showed that the learning losses aren’t just academic, but economic, as well.
“In turn, lower cognitive skills will likely reduce the future earnings potential and labor-market opportunities of the students affected,” said the report by the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, published last month. “All of this could eventually translate into lower economic productivity for the nation as a whole.”
If there was any doubt who really runs the White House, President Biden, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, made it clear from the very beginning who was in charge, according to Foer’s account: the teachers’ unions run the show.
The AFT’s Weingarten and National Education Association President Becky Pringle were both with the First Lady on the very first day that Biden took office, said Foer.
“I said I was going to bring you with me into the White House,” Dr. Biden told the two union bosses, amid freshly-cut flowers in the East Wing. “On day one, you’re here.”
According to Foer, Weingarten previously was frustrated that under the administration of President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Biden, the Department of Education (DOE) was in favor of charter schools. So she made her demands very clear, once Biden was elected president, what she expected of the new president.
“She let it be known that she didn’t want the president [Biden] to nominate an enthusiast for charter schools. In her view, the president had promised to nominate a champion of public education,” Foer said about Weingarten demands on who would run the DOE under Biden.
Foer said that although Vice President Biden was loyal to his then-boss, Barack Obama, he continuously tried to reassure Weingarten that he was an ally of hers, too.
When Weingarten confronted Biden angrily in public in Florida over Obama support of charter schools, Biden made a show of defending Obama, but eventually walked over and whispered reassurance into the ear of the union boss.
“I hear you. Give me time. I’ll work this out,” Biden promised, according to Foer.
And, according to the book, Biden kept his promise.