The people in charge are failing our kids.
President Biden during the final presidential debate boasted, “I’m going to shut down the virus, not the country.” For millions of students and parents across the nation, however, Mr. Biden’s promise is ringing hollow a full month into his presidency.
Even though coronavirus infections are down and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says schools can reopen safely, Mr. Biden and liberal governors across the country are caving to teachers’ unions whose members refuse to return to the classroom.
Just last week, the president of a Los Angeles teachers’ union said that California’s plan to return to in-person learning is “propagating structural racism.” This is not only race-baiting and divisive, but it is also factually inaccurate. The families who stand to benefit the most from school choice and schools reopening are minorities. In fact, a national study of 41 urban areas estimated that “charter schools provide black students in poverty with an additional 59 days of learning in math and 44 days of learning in reading per year.”
And the hypocrisy from liberal politicians and the teachers’ unions is astounding. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers President Matt Meyer came under fire — rightly so — for sending their children to in-person private schools, while at the same time they work to keep schools closed and block funds for working families who want more education options for their children.
Parents should demand better and insist that Mr. Biden empower families over education bureaucrats.
Club for Growth has a straightforward solution: Send our taxpayer dollars directly to parents so when schools are closed or failing our children, parents can seek alternative options. They can choose to send the money to the public schools, private schools, homeschool or pay for tutors or technology for their children. We fully support, and will pressure senators to support, an amendment to Mr. Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill that does just that — sends money directly to parents so they can decide what to do with their taxpayer dollars.
Parents, after all, are the ones who foot the bill for public education. It’s their hard-earned dollars that pay teachers’ salaries and fund their enviable pensions.
Parents and students deserve options. Moms and dads are juggling full-time jobs as they simultaneously play tech support and supplemental teacher to their children. Many families were forced to choose which parent had to quit their job and stay home with their school-age children. Single-parent households have been even harder hit.
Students, meanwhile, are facing Zoom fatigue, falling behind academically, physically and are more susceptible to mental-health conditions. In Clark County, Nevada, the school board scrambled to reopen classrooms after 18 area students died by suicide.
That is why Club for Growth and its affiliates have stepped in to put pressure on politicians to pass bold parental school choice legislation across the country. We are currently running a targeted ad campaign in Iowa, spending $167,000 on broadcast and Fox News in the Des Moines area, calling on Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley to act quickly and pass school choice legislation that already passed the Iowa Senate and has the support of the governor.
In California, Club for Growth Action is spending $35,000 on broadcast in the Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego markets to raise awareness of the cost of keeping children out of schools.
And there will be more to come. In the near future, we intend to expand our school choice campaign to other states, including my home state of Indiana, and help get school choice legislation passed across the country.
Supporting school choice is not only the right thing to do, but it is also very popular with the American people. A Real Clear Politics survey commissioned by the American Federation for Children shows 68% of Americans supported parental choice in 2019, before the pandemic.
The AFC again commissioned a poll to gauge Americans’ continued support for parental choice, this time during the height of the pandemic. Now there is even more support for the initiative, with a whopping 73% of Americans in favor of parental choice.
The coronavirus has made abundantly clear the massive cracks that exist in our education system. Children will continue to fall behind and suffer as long as cash-flush teachers’ unions hold sway over the president instead of the interests of American families.
Mr. Biden should keep his promise and not make families suffer any longer. He should demand schools reopen and do all in his power to ensure students and their parents’ can pursue the educational path that best fits their children’s educational needs.
• David McIntosh, (@DavidMMcintosh) is president of the Club for Growth and Club for Growth Action, co-founder of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy and served as a special assistant to President Reagan.