Even a $130 Billion Bribe Won’t Get Kids Back in the Classroom this School Year


Biden wants to reopen schools. He promised schools would reopen in his first 100 days. But what does that mean?

The Meaning of Reopen

His goal that he set is to have the majority of schools, so more than 50 percent, open by day 100 of his presidency and that means some teaching in classrooms, at least one day a week,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Teachers' Unions Roll Over Biden

Please consider the Teachers' Unions Roll Over Biden

One day out of five? We doubt that’s how working parents define open.

Ms. Psaki is trying to make a virtue out of a humiliating political embarrassment. Mr. Biden figured that his support for the teachers union agenda, along with more money, would get the unions to reopen the schools. Instead he’s discovering what America’s parents have learned in the last year: Unions run the schools, and no one—not parents, not school districts, not mayors, and not even a new Democratic President—will tell them what to do. So it’s one day a week, pal. Get used to it.

Chicago Strike 

Chicago elementary and middle schools were supposed to reopen at the beginning of February. 

They went on strike and are still not open. The strike has ended but they ratified an agreement to "reopen" in March.

There's that word again. What's it mean now? The WSJ article explains.

Teachers, who will be prioritized for vaccines, won’t have to return to classrooms if they have an underlying medical condition or live with someone who does.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of people in Cook County have a chronic condition. The agreement also requires in-person instruction to be “paused” for 14 days if a single child in a school tests positive for Covid. All of this means most kids will be stuck learning remotely for the rest of the school year.

 What About California?

Incredibly, San Francisco’s school board and union hadn’t even considered a plan to reopen schools for nearly 11 months. Last week the city finally sued the school board to force it to come up with a reopening plan.

Bully Pulpit

If president Biden really wanted to lead, he would stand up to the teacher's unions. 

The WSJ asked Biden to "use his bully pulpit to tell school districts that don’t reopen classrooms that they won’t get the money."

The Journal used the word "bribe" and so did I. Appeasement might be a better word, but Biden is attempting to buy off the progressive wing of the party.

Free Money

Instead, Democrats want to send public schools another $130 billion whether they open or not. 

And we also get a new definition of  "reopen". 

Follow the Science?!

President Biden promised to follow the science. Instead, he is Following the Teachers' Unions.

That Op-Ed is by Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey. 

Let's tune into what Christie has to say.

Follow the science. That was Joe Biden’s promise to the American people—until Randi Weingarten and the American Federation of Teachers disagreed.

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.

In an article published Jan. 26 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, three researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission” of the coronavirus. Data from reopened classrooms don’t show the rapid spread that has been observed in congregate living facilities and high-density work sites.

The CDC researchers looked at more than 90,000 students in 11 North Carolina districts and found that only 32 students and staff members were infected in school. In the same period, 773 got infected outside school.

CDC Bows to Teachers' Unions

Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, made the following admission at a Feb. 12 press conference: The CDC wouldn’t “follow the science.” Direct changes in the CDC’s guidance had been made as a result of consultation with teachers groups. To show how far the CDC had moved, Ms. Walensky said that even after everyone had been vaccinated the CDC still might not recommend that schools reopen normally.

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.

Is Anyone Else Fed Up With Dr. Fauci's Forever Moving Goalposts?

On February 26, I wrote Is Anyone Else Fed Up With Dr. Fauci's Forever Moving Goalposts?

I concluded ...

I understand wearing masks. I understand avoiding groups and parties. But enough already. The teachers' unions will pick up on this and play it for all it's worth.

Numerous readers blasted my article. One reader commented: 

I am a bit perplexed by this statement; “The teacher's unions will pick up on this and play it for all it's worth.” 

I'm not even sure what that means. It sounds like a personal vendetta against teachers, or unions, and totally out of place in this discussion.

My comment clearly was not out of place, but admittedly I provided no explanation, which I should have. 

I had this follow-up post in mind and added this addendum to my original post.


I was asked about my brief teachers' union comment above. I will explain in detail in just a bit in another post. 

I have now explained, hopefully in enough detail, how the teachers' unions play into this. 

Not For the Kids

I am sick of teachers' unions and public unions in general. They do not do a damn thing for the kids. 

Notice I said "unions". There are many excellent teachers, likely the vast majority, who do care about the kids. 

The unions don't, and never will. 

FDR's Take on Public Unions

I have commented on public unions and FDR's take before. 

It's not just teachers' unions. All public unions are corrupt to the core. 

Yes, I have a "personal vendetta" against public unions. I am guilty as charged, and proudly so.

However, my "vendetta" is not out of place in regards to Covid and Fauci. And it does appear Fauci bent to the unions. 

Public unions are a corrupt force. They should be abolished.

Even FDR understood this important point. Indeed, FDR accurately predicted what would happen.

Reagan Smashed PATCO - It Wasn't Near Enough

To understand FDR's point, please see Democrats, Here's Your Chance to Get Rid of Bad Police

I discuss problems with teachers' unions as well as police and firefighters' unions. 

I do not wish to condense that discussion down to a short synopsis here.

Please click on the above link for a complete explanation including direct quotes from FDR.


Comments (49)
No. 1-27

Who is getting bribed to the tune of $130b?



The Journal used the word "bribe" and so did I.

Appeasement might be a better word, but Biden is attempting to buy off the progressive wing of the party.


I believe they are still demanding an end to Charter schools which are open for the kids. They don't want the competition. Hmm, who else wants to close down the competition? The union didn't runover Biden he is not in charge. He is just a cigar store Indian. We don't know who's in charge.


I wouldn't go back to the office until I know my fellow co-workers are vaccinated and that proper protocols are put in place. Don't know why teachers should expect any less. I cant pull up the WSJ article. I understand you're repeating a claim made by the WSJ. A bribe suggests that this $130b is a pay off to teachers. Is that really the case? Or is this hyperbole to suggest something nefarious


Buffett trashing bonds. I must say he's right. Although I don't agree with his statement about high yield bonds , as I view them more like equities than fixed income. That is if Buffett is trashing bonds and suggesting equities. In my view both are over-valued. And in some ways a stock is just a bond with a 40 year duration where the dividend goes up at 6% annually(Since 1946, S&P 500 dividend growth has been about 6% annually)

And bonds arenot the place to be these days. Can you believe that the income recently available from a10-year U.S. Treasury bond – the yield was 0.93% at year end – had fallen94%from the 15.8% yield available in September 1981? In certain large and important countries, such as Germany and Japan, investors earn a negative return on trillions of dollars of sovereign debt. Fixed-income investors worldwide – whether pension funds, insurance companies or retirees – face a bleak future.

Some insurers, as well as other bond investors, may try to juice the pathetic returns now available by shifting their purchases to obligations backed by shaky borrowers. Risky loans, however, are not the answer to inadequate interest rates. Three decades ago, the once-mighty savings and loan industry destroyed itself, partly by ignoring thatmaxim.


I understand wanting to reopen schools and I understand being annoyed by public unions but here's one that throws me... I've even seen articles in NYT about reopening schools because "kids don't really spread it". Kids spread everything. There's nothing special about coronavirus that makes it any different from other respiratory viruses in that regard. It probably won't kill any kids (yay!) but they can get it and spread it. Barely showing symptoms because kids can for some reason fight it without issue can actually be a bad thing. A stealth killer of grandparents and elderly teachers.

I still think it's possible (and a good idea) to reopen schools while doing as much as possible to limit risk. If parents can keep kids home, let them. If teachers don't want to come in, try to accommodate giving first dibs to the immune compromised and elderly. Increase the physical size of teaching spaces, decrease the number of kids. Be smart.

We're a year in and people are still claiming the government shut everything down and that's why we're in this mess. No it isn't. Fear is. The virus is.

As far as making teachers teach, imagine you're a school administrator who makes that call and a young teacher dies. Could you handle that? I couldn't. If you think in the micro instead of the macro, as we Econ nerds often do, the risks seem very different.


Fire them, reduce pay based on number of days they decide to open (1 day a week = 20%).

Sure, it will get fought in court. But each side can easily keep appealing until it goes to the supreme court. That will likely take years. How many teachers can afford to not get paid for years even if they eventually win.

Other businesses (both private and government) have all managed to reopen, most close to fully open if allowed. It's past time schools were open (my daughter charter school in Florida has been open since August for those who wish to attend vs do online schooling).


Biden should follow common sense and science. Who are the teacher's unions going to turn to, the GOP? It would help if the Republicans made some kind of sense in their proposals, it would put more pressure on the Democrats to have a better plan.


I have no idea where schools are closed here in California. Most public school districts have options for in person or remote learning in most suburbs I've seen. San Francisco is the exception and not the rule here in California. I literally know of only about 25% of the kids in our district who chose 100% distance learning.

Biden is acting in good faith but he is stuck between clowns and jokers.


It is funny, all about "our kids are the future", but want the people who teach them to live with lowered wages and few benefits.

Have you ever had to face a mob of kids every day? Have you ever had complaints from parents because you're too hard on Jonnie?

Sure, yup.

Send the kids to China, or have the illegals teach them. That'll give your kids the education you want to pay for.


Recommendations for reopening schools....

Which has your local district done? Do they have money for supplies, additional space and additional people....

the promotion of ‘stay-at-home when sick’ policy
promoting respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene
ensuring appropriate facility-cleaning
ensuring appropriate ventilation
implementing the use of face masks in the community for older age groups (>12 years) and adults.

These include physical distancing measures such as:

cohorts of classes and groups
ensuring physical distance in the classroom (e.g. separating tables)
reducing class sizes
staggering arrival times as well as meal and break times
holding classes outdoors.


Can I some of the $130b. Promise...I would use it wisely. Best...I would wipe out all my debts...


South Dakota stayed open. No bailouts for states that are strangled by Teachers Unions. Are you listening Illinois? Unsustainable pensions take the hit.


I do not understand why they want to open up things without vaccinating everyone first, Zoom meetings (https://www.apkwhale.com/zoom-cloud-meetings-apk/) are really good, everyone has their own private life and they can do whatever they want to do. Online is the future, for education or businesses.


...The news conference was called after pictures of the fans — in some cases the same sort of window units you would buy for your home at a big-box store — circulated widely, raising alarm in teachers and parents...

----For the cash-strapped city school system, some buildings are more than 100 years old and decades of delayed maintenance means the fixes open to wealthier districts aren’t always possible.

In Philadelphia, the fan issue crystallizes a deep distrust teachers and many parents have of the school system, especially around buildings: This is the district that let environmental hazards like lead paint and asbestos linger for years, and just last year bungled a $50 million construction project at Benjamin Franklin High School that sickened students and staff and kept students out of school for more than a month....

....Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has repeatedly assured teachers and parents that any rooms used when schools reopen will be safe. Just last week, he told the school board the district’s 3,000 fans would have regulators on them to ensure that airflow requirements were being met.

But on Monday night, Hite said there were actually no gauges. In an email to staff, he said he made “an honest mistake.”...

...McNeil said at the news conference Tuesday that the district has fixed airflow units in a few schools, canceling the need for fans, but that about 1,100 rooms citywide still require the fans. About 37% of the fans are installed, and the goal is for all to be in place Monday, when teachers are due back.

McNeil said that building engineers will be responsible for monitoring temperatures, and that in spot testing rooms with known temperature issues, none had dropped below 68 degrees, the district-set minimum temperature...



Our estimates suggest that fomite transmission could sustain SARS-CoV-2 transmission in many settings. The fomite R0 ranged from 10 in low-risk venues (offices) to ≈25 in high-risk settings such as child daycares. SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk is generally higher than influenza and rhinovirus (Appendix Figure 6).

Reductions in the basic reproduction number for the fomite pathway for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 on stainless steel (A), plastic (B), and cloth surfaces (C), by setting (defined by hourly fomite touching rates [ρTand proportion of accessible surfaces [λ). For areas in green, the projected reproduction number from fomite transmission is <1. For comparison, cleaning every 2 hours was considered as a sensitivity analysis.

We found that hourly cleaning and disinfection alone could interrupt fomite transmission in some office settings, particularly combined with reduced shedding, but would be inadequate in child daycares and schools (Figure; Appendix Figure 3). If shedding is reduced through mask wearing, transmission from surfaces became unlikely, even with infrequent surface decontamination. Decay rates were similarly low for plastic and stainless steel (Appendix Table 2), leading to substantial transmission potential (Figure). Decay rates on cloth were high and were unlikely to sustain transmission. Therefore, cleaning and disinfection frequencies could vary by surface, with hourly interventions being helpful for frequently touched nonporous surfaces and with porous surfaces (such as plush toys) being cleaned and sanitized less frequently. In child daycares, intervening directly after high-risk shedding events (e.g., a feverish person coughs directly on a surface) in addition to intervening at standard intervals (such as hourly) would be beneficial.


The reality of schools today is that parents regard schools a free-daycare, even in the upper grades.

They keep the kids out of their hair and off the streets for at least 8 hours a day. After-school sports--so much the better.

The schools are expected to keep their kids in line(not too much discipline, though!), socialize them to others (my kid would never do that!), teach them how to behave around others, attract the kids away from their phones to learn something, and teach the 3 R's and more. But the parents do not want to enforce homework, are happy to jump down the teacher's throat when the think their innocent child is being disciplined too harshly, and blames the teacher first if the student can't/won't learn.


Agree with Mish. Schools need to reopen, and science says so.
Here are the local facts in Bay Area, CA.
Our daycare / school has been open since July 2020, and both of my children have been attending the school without masks for 6+ months. Group of 6-10 children per classroom, 9 hours a day, no masks for the kids. No outbreaks at the school for the entirety of 6+ months.

Our children, 3y.o. and 5y.o. have been attending a private corporate daycare / kindergarten since July 2020, 6+ months, during the pandemic. This is a sizeable daycare / kindergarten facility and only employees of the large S&P500 company that I work for are eligible. We pay ~ $2k / kid. The children have been there without masks for 6+ months, 9 hours per day, 5 days per week in groups of about 6-10 children per classroom.
The school implements a Covid 19 protocol where they screen parents and childrens temperature with an IR thermometer , and ask to fill out a daily questionnaire. Anyone with symptoms (and their children / family) stays at home until they can get a negative Covid-19 test, and clearance.

No outbreaks for 6+ months, despite being in contact 9+ hrs per day with no masks for the children, and only the grown ups.

Schools need to re-open with masks and ~ 50% density.


One of the towns in my local area has just enacted a $5 "hazardous" pay rule for workers facing the public. Curious minds want to how does such an incentive help reduce Covid or if the person contracts Covid?

South City adopts $5 hazard pay
Officials require additional $5 per hour to grocery and pharmaceutical workers
Feb 27, 2021


As long as the kids are learning online, why do we need expensive teachers, schools, school buses, janitors, counselors, etc... . Get rid of them all and hire a company in India to teach our kids. We could cut property taxes by 80%.

Fauci is a complete moron. Wear 2 masks. What a great idea. Make it harder for air to pass through the masks forcing to shoot out like a jet around the edge of the masks.


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Then Who is getting bribed to the tune of $130b?

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