Out of power and divided about their future, Republicans see an opportunity to begin winning back the suburban voters they lost under Donald Trump’s presidency by capitalizing on widespread frustration with pandemic life and directing it at an old enemy: teachers unions. […]
Seeking to protect members, particularly older teachers, from contracting Covid-19, some teachers unions have pushed for no return to in-person learning until teachers can be vaccinated, while others have demanded additional safety measures — ranging from better ventilation to increased cleaning — before agreeing to a return. […]
But the frustration over shuttered schools, kids being kept home and other Covid-19 restrictions are real and even some progressives say the unions are overreaching. (Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused them of wanting to “take over” not just the schools, but also the city.) And Republicans think they can channel that anger into a grassroots uprising to drive a wedge between suburban voters and the Democratic Party. […]
Democrats and union leaders say they are unconcerned with the GOP strategy, noting widespread vaccination should allow schools to almost completely reopen before any major elections.
They point to a string of recent polls that show support for teachers unions has, if anything, grown slightly during the pandemic. Many Republicans, they add, are publicly opposed to Biden’s stimulus plan, which they say would accelerate school openings.
The “progressive” label on Mayor Lightfoot would be news to a lot of Chicago progressives. Also, in Illinois, school districts make their own decisions about reopening under certain guidelines, like mask requirements. And while public health experts say schools should be reopened, there are always some major caveats that schools may not be able to meet (like adequate ventilation, for instance). Not to mention that for decades the GOP has demanded “local control” over schools.
* OK, with that in mind, here’s the NRSC…
Senator Duckworth has remained completely silent on reopening schools, choosing to cower to the teachers unions that fund her campaign rather than fight for students across the country.
Democrats stated on the campaign trail that scientists and Center for Disease Control (CDC) officials should make the determination on how and when America’s children should return to school. After numerous scientific studies, over $80 billion invested into making schools safer, and clear guidance from CDC officials, the answer is clear: the time to return to school is now.
When given an opportunity to put her money where her mouth is, Senator Duckworth has gone mute.
Statement from NRSC Chairman, Senator Rick Scott: “So much for ‘following the science.’ Classrooms are among the safest places in the country for children and teachers and the consequences of keeping children away from in-person learning are incalculable. In the face of overwhelming evidence, Senator Duckworth refuses to speak out against the union bosses and support reopening our schools. She’s gone completely mute. The question every Illinois voter should be asking is, ‘why does our Senator fight for teachers unions instead of our kids?’”
One thing I’ll say is that the GOP at least understands the role they play as a political party in creating a narrative. The Democrats just refuse to grapple with it. The GOP must know they’re on the wrong side of this issue. The polling has been clear for a long time. But stuff like this is designed to move the needle on opinion to create the space for policy changes. Politico polling out today shows voters trust teachers unions on school opening 52-40%. They think it’s too early to open in person learning. By a margin of 55-34 they support waiting to reopen until teachers are vaccinated. And 56-30 they’d support a teachers strike over safety issues in schools. These numbers are even more dramatic when broken down by income, with lower income voters, especially of color, even more supportive of teachers
Maybe the Governor could respond. He has been the fall guy for the teachers unions from day one. Anyone following this issue knows his administration “updated” the rules right before schools started. The rules were so burdensome that most schools changed their minds and went remote. For an administration, Governor Pritzker and President Biden that says follow the science, they only mean anyone not in a teachers union. I think you will see more of this type of attack quite honestly.
Schools are prohibited from reopening now. But the Republicans want to have the government force them to reopen. Haven’t we been hearing complaints from Republicans that the government is acting heavy handed by closing things down? Pick a lane.
- Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Feb 17, 21 @ 11:30 am:
The issue is real and getting hotter. But totally absent when it comes to Tammy. And as I’ve learned locally, shifting from remote to in person at this point in the school calendar is enormously complicated and way more involved than simply, “teachers unions bad.”
If schools are to fully re-open, then the impacted communities need to get on board with masking, socially distancing, and other mitigations. Otherwise circulation of COVID-19 will continue in the community and the schools stand to lose school bus drivers, custodians, substitute teachers, office staff, administrators, coaches, AND teachers to illness and quarantine. All or most of these employees should be considered essential workers if we are truly concerned about schools re-opening and student learning. It’s hard to run a fully open school without adequate staff. Support them in going to the front of the line for vaccinations if they don’t already meet the criteria for 1b. It’s hypocrisy to continue to want schools fully re-open when communities continue to flaunt mitigations and governments ignore teachers and staff as essential workers.
I wonder how many people who have terms that are up this cycle on their local school board have decided not to run for re-election? I think in my district none of the incumbents who are up are running again.
There is a lot of real frustration with economic closings, vaccine avail, school reopenings, and general suffering — which will be focused on local and state pols and school boards, not Senators.Targeting teachers will backfire with critical suburban voters.
They’re off base in two ways, and listening to a small vocal minority.
Uh, it’s not a federal issue last time I looked. She’s a US Senator not a state senator. Do Republicans want the federal government running local schools? I thought they were against federal overreach? Yeah, i know it’s just political @#$%
Now, what i want to know is how does she stand on the speed limit on Bartlett Road and the Streamwood Village Hall office hours. That’s what a US Senator should be concerned with. /snark
My kids (elementary age) have been going in-person to our public school since September 1st. Zero in-school transmissions. Three separate cases have been diagnosed in the school months apart. One was in my son’s class. Dad of a student tested positive. Student had a sniffle, so health department classified her as a positive case. Mom was glad because quarantine period is shorter with a positive case than not - only the 14-day period, not 28 days (14 days from end of quarantine of positive case in household).
There are safe ways to do this and CUSD 200 is proving it. Teachers are fantastic, they’ve been enthusiastic to be back from day one.