During a small press briefing on Friday, Joe Biden refused to answer a reporter’s question about whether he would seek cooperation from teachers unions to get children back in school.
Bo Erickson, a reporter with CBS News who trailed the Biden campaign during the election, attempted to get in one last question as reporters were being ushered out of the room. Erickson asked Biden “if he will encourage teacher unions to cooperate to get kids back in school because the COVID task force said it is safe to be in the classroom,” the reporter said in a tweet along with a video of the exchange.
Biden didn’t answer the question, but snapped back at Erickson by saying, “Why are you the only guy that always shouts out questions?”
Teachers unions have opposed sending kids back to school amid the coronavirus pandemic even though studies routinely show schools are not a high risk for infection. Data from New York state found that “in-person schooling does not appear to increase the risk of Covid-19 transmission for staff and students,” a Brown University economics professor, Emily Oster, wrote at The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, teachers have protested in several cities across the country claiming they could die if they’re forced to go back to work. In July, Washington, D.C. teachers lined up “body bags” outside school offices, The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti reported.
“The group, like teachers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, are concerned they may be asked to return to in-classroom instruction, rather than to a preferred system of virtual learning, and the ‘“body bags’ were meant to draw attention to the possibility that they could be classified as ‘essential workers’ and put at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus,” Zanotti wrote. “The bags were accompanied by signs that read, ‘RIP Favorite Teacher’ and ‘Distance ONLY,’ referring to the blended virtual learning used at the height of the pandemic, back at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.”
The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo reported at the end of October that the Fairfax Education Association started demanding schools remain closed through August 2021. Chicago Public Schools have also said teachers unions have refused “to even discuss a return to in-person learning.”
In addition to rejecting a return to in-person learning, America’s largest teachers union, the National Education Associate, provided a “policy playbook” calling on the Biden administration to oppose an expansion of charter schools and end a school-choice program for low-income children in Washington, D.C.
Biden has said he would handle the coronavirus pandemic by putting science first, yet the science says schools are not high-risk areas. Since Biden obtained the endorsement of the NEA and spoke at their yearly conference, it is hard to imagine that he would ignore the political demands of teachers unions in favor of science. His refusal to answer Erickson’s question on the subject – and his snapping at the very ask – suggests he will not stand up to the teachers union.