by Donna Martinez
Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 37, which would have forced public school districts to offer in-person classroom instruction to kids whose parents want it. The bill had bipartisan support. Carolina Journal reports the General Assembly could hold an override vote as early as today.
School districts would have the option of offering full-time in-person instruction, known as Plan A, or a limited classroom arrangement under Plan B. But students with special needs would be required to be offered full-time schooling under Plan A.
All parents would still have the choice to keep their children in remote learning.
Cooper’s position is at odds with the science about reopening. And he’s at odds with North Carolinians as well. A new poll shows 73% of North Carolina voters support the bill.
On Sunday, former President Trump took on President Biden on the issue, telling the CPAC audience that Mr. Biden’s position is “morally inexcusable.” LISTEN below.
Note the former president’s reference to the teachers’ unions. Here in North Carolina, the NCAE — the state affiliate of the NEA — is closely tied to Gov. Cooper. Just minutes after Cooper issued his veto statement, the NCAE issued a thank you, as Carolina Journal reported.
“This bill would have needlessly endangered the health and safety of educators and students,” NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly said in a statement. “The best action all legislators can take right now is to encourage their communities to comply with the safety protocols and to encourage the vaccination of all school employees.”
Now that Gov. Cooper has moved teachers to the front of the Group 3 vaccination line, he refuses to sign a bill that shows the same regard for kids’ well-being. Sad.
So what can President Biden do about all this, if anything? Robby Soave at Reason offers this assessment:
Contrary to Trump’s claim, it is not primarily Biden’s fault that schools remain closed: School closures are local issues, and the federal government can only do so much. But it’s true that the teachers unions—an influential constituency of the Democratic Party—are the major force opposing these efforts. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a key ally of Biden, has done everything within her power to slow the process of reopening schools.
Trump’s decision to wade into this battle won’t improve matters: Indeed, Trump claiming loudly that schools should reopen will probably persuade many people to instinctively adopt the opposite position. The reopening debate, like other debates, has become excessively partisan, but there’s no reason for it. The science and the experts agree that we can, and should, get kids back into their classrooms—and their teachers, too.
Hold on. It’s not the former president’s problem that some people are unhinged about him. Their hatred for Trump is embarrassing and alarming.
The current president CAN do something. Mr. Biden has just as big a bully pulpit as Mr. Trump has — if not bigger. He should use it to persuade his allies, including the unions, to accept the science and get back to the classroom. Time for President Biden to lead.