by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Six months ago, when President Joe Biden was candidate Joe Biden, he spoke of “a crisis being felt all across the United States of America.” The crisis was school closures. Millions of children were staring at laptops rather than learning in a classroom. Biden said: “This is a national emergency. President Trump doesn’t have a real plan for opening schools safely. He’s offering nothing but failures and delusions.”
Six months later, the education crisis abounds, and now-President Biden is so far just making it worse.
At Tuesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the new White House goal was “to have the majority of schools, so more than 50 percent, open by Day 100 of his presidency.” She defined that as “some teaching in classrooms, so at least one day a week, hopefully it’s more.” This isn’t just walking back a promise; it’s completely erasing one.
According to school-data aggregator Burbio, we are already well past Psaki’s spring milestone today, and we were before Biden took office. Over 60 percent of school districts are already open with at least a “hybrid” model. “Hybrid” colloquially means two to three days a week of in-person learning. One day a week was not originally part of this debate. It’s a new and lower standard — one Team Biden has introduced.
At first, I thought the transgression was simply they had put the issue on the backburner and were not paying attention to it, given the strange one-day-a-week utterance. But after 24 hours of blowback, Psaki was asked to clarify these remarks and she doubled down, calling the plan “bold and ambitious.” And sticking to the one-day standard, she said they hoped to exceed it.
Again, this supposed bold and ambitious plan was exceeded before the inauguration.