- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2020

As the husband of an educator who stayed home with their children when they were young, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden likely appreciates the similarities of teaching and learning.

Parents still want their children to learn, and they’re employing any means necessary to ensure teaching and learning keep apace.

Some school districts, like D.C.’s, are hellbent on blaming the coronavirus for shuttering schoolhouse doors, but it’s what’s not being said in public that’s most revealing. More on that later.

For now, the question is whether the presumptive president-elect and his transition team on education will emphasize the teaching or the learning.

Announced this week — and to state the obvious — the 20-member team includes four union members, some classroom teachers and associated mindsets.

Said Stef Feldman, the Biden camp’s national policy director: “When it comes to teachers, [Mr. Biden] is going to boost teacher pay and invest in professional development and help educators pay off their own student loans.”

But how, pray tell, about the other half? The learning.

During his campaign, Mr. Biden made this promise: “Ensure that no child’s future is determined by their ZIP code, parents’ income, race or disability.”

Yep, that is what Mr. Biden promised, and those very words are still cited at JoeBiden.com.

Now, how, exactly does Mr. Biden propose to ensure as much?

School districts, states and the federal government use ZIP codes, income, race/ethnicity and disabilities to determine everything from per pupil funding, capital school improvements and school staffing to toilet paper, hand sanitizer and COVID-19 cleaning allotments.

Federal funding is one of the faves and with good reason: The more school districts can slice and dice students — special needs, non-English speakers, at-risk, “inner city,” ZIP code, homeless, etc. — the more money. Presumably, that money is redirected from federal and state coffers to local districts.

I say “presumably” because that’s only if school districts make accurate and certifiable head counts of the learners and the teachers.

And this is where D.C. falls short, as if they don’t want to even face the possibility that 5,000 or so students haven’t returned to D.C. Public Schools classrooms, including pre-K and adult programs.

Many of the decreases across the country are occurring because families are exercising their right to choice — from charter, religious and private schools to homeschooling and “pods,” which allow small groups of parents to enter into teaching and learning agreements.

In the District, there have been news reports that some of those who are “enrolled” in DCPS have never participated in its virtual online sessions. Sad but unsurprising.

Teachers unions and educrats in Washington have been in bed with the federal government since they boosted Jimmy Carter into the White House — and Mr. Biden, then a senator, was there as it all unfolded.

Mr. Biden also was along for the slicing and dicing. But now, he wants “unity,” for us all to get along, and for a Department of Education to ignore ZIP codes, race and ethnicity, etc.? Affirmative action?

That’ll be the day.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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