Biden offers third redefinition of what reopening schools means

Since the goalposts have now been dragged back and forth so much that they look like pretzels, we should probably recap the Biden White House’s position on reopening the schools. First, it was almost all schools would be reopened by the end of his first 100 days. Then it was half of the schools to be open one day per week. Then Jen Psaki told us that they just didn’t have enough data to tell us when the schools would be open. (That was only five days ago.) But during Biden’s town hall on CNN last night we received yet another answer. A “majority” of elementary schools will be open five days per week by the end of the first 100 days. Does anyone know who is actually driving this bus right now? (Associated Press)

President Joe Biden is promising a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, restating his goal after his administration came under fire when aides said schools would be considered open if they held in-person learning just one day a week.

Biden’s comments, during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, marked his clearest statement yet on school reopenings. Biden had pledged in December to reopen “the majority of our schools” in his first 100 days but has since faced increasing questions about how he would define and achieve that goal, with school districts operating under a patchwork of different virtual and in-person learning arrangements nationwide.

“I said open a majority of schools in K through eighth grade, because they’re the easiest to open, the most needed to be open in terms of the impact on children and families having to stay home,” Biden said.

So what happened to all of that stuff Jen Psaki was saying? According to the President, that was “a mistake in the communication.”

Let’s see if we can translate this latest answer into basic English, shall we? First of all, there’s no answer being offered about high school students, arguably the ones most heavily impacted by remote learning and the closest to applying to colleges. Supposedly the danger of virus outbreaks is greater in high schools than in K-8. (I’m still waiting to see the science behind that one.)

So we’re focusing on kindergarten through 8th grade. Joe Biden said, “a majority” of those would be open five days per week by day 100. A majority could mean anywhere from “almost all” of them to fifty percent plus one. That’s a pretty big margin of error that Status Quo Joe is leaving for himself, isn’t it? If we wind up on the low end of that spread, just about half of the schools could still be at one day per week with the rest of the days spent using remote learning. Sorry, but that’s nowhere near anything people would consider “reopening the schools.”

We’ve also yet to hear any sort of comprehensive answer from the President about what he plans to do to get control of the teachers’ unions. As long as they keep refusing to send their members back to the classroom until every one of them is vaccinated and all of the school buildings have new air filtration systems, the schools won’t be back to full-time business. Many of them have already demonstrated that they’re not going to be listening to any executive orders from governors and mayors. Does Joe Biden believe that he has some sort of magical ability to bring them to heel with a quick speech?

It sounds to me as if Joe Biden is really starting to regret ever dipping a toe into the entire school reopening debate. A small-government conservative approach would have been to simply say each state and district would need to determine the best, safe plan to reopen and the federal government would supply funding and resources to assist as required. But Uncle Joe’s big-government approach means leading from the top down. Now he has to produce some sort of progress by the end of April or his promise will have proven false.

Wait… does that mean he will have “lied” to the country? Of course not. Perish the thought. It will turn out to be a “verbal misstep.” Or perhaps another “mistake in the communication.”