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Follow the science. That was Joe Biden’s promise to the American people—until Randi Weingarten and the American Federation of Teachers disagreed.
That’s the opening line to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal. And you’ve got to give him this: he’s consistent.
New Jersey teachers no doubt remember the deep animus between then-Gov. Christie and NJEA, NJ’s primary teachers union In fact, he spent a fair amount of his tenure challenging union leaders on everything from tenure and pension reform, to overpaid staffers and superintendents, to school funding. Christie hasn’t forgotten these battles. He writes,
I spent much of my time as governor saying that we needed to put children and parents first in public education. The teachers union in New Jersey spent tens of millions of dollars to oppose my reform efforts and protect the status quo. As a result our per pupil costs were among the country’s highest, and families in many urban districts were held hostage by failure.
Now Christie is focusing on how national teacher union leaders influenced the CDC guidance on reopening schools and, in deference to national union leaders, are putting children and parents not first, but last. He notes that when CDC researchers looked at the infection rate in North Carolina, they found “only 32 students and staff members were infected in school. In the same period, 773 got infected outside school…[T]he science was made clear: Schools can reopen with appropriate safeguards.”
Until, that is, “the teachers unions got involved and the CDC changed its tune.”
He asks, “why change positions after backing the science that showed significantly less community spread in schools than in the community at large?”
This is his answer:
Again adults are placing their own interests ahead of the interests of the children. It’s the unions and their leaders who are doing this, not the rank-and-file members. Numerous courageous teachers have spoken out against the union position.
Schools have reopened in Europe and some U.S. states, both red and blue, without any major outbreaks caused by in-school transmission. The CDC is being used as a political tool, flip-flopping on the science under pressure from the national unions and their Biden administration allies.
The unions pack a lot of financial muscle. I still have the bruises from my battles with them. But President Biden promised Americans an end to these games. This betrayal of our children and their families must end. The long-term mental-health effects and educational deficits created by continuing this policy will be devastating. It’s time to put our children’s interests first in this pandemic.