School closures are harming more Americans than COVID-19 — and it’s not even close. The biggest threats to education are the very people who should have an interest in the good of their students: teachers’ unions.

Teachers’ unions are uniting against efforts to re-open schools for in-person education, advocating instead for the vaccination of all educators before returning to the classroom. 

On Feb. 2, Chicago administrators protested against in-person education, refusing to go back to work. Last week, the California Teachers Association told Gov. Gavin Newsom that staff members in areas with high-infection rates would not return to school until they got vaccinated. Recently, the President of the Pasco Association of Educators in Washington state equated in-person education to racial inequality, calling the return to classes a product of white privilege. 

But political officials, psychologists, and mental health specialists are all in agreement: the sooner we can get Americans back to school, the better. On Wednesday, Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Education, Miguel Cardona, even said that there is “no substitute for a classroom experience,” and that “we have to do everything we can to safely reopen schools in a manner that gets students back into their learning environment.” 

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That’s the keyword for the Biden administration: safe. What exactly does safe mean? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already deemed K-12 school openings safe. Studies from across the world have shown that schools are one of the safest places to be right now — the only problem is, students aren’t in them. 

On the flip side, students are much less safe outside of the classroom. In the past year, youth suicide rates have drastically increased. Many students are behind in school, unable to receive the help they need.

But don’t worry — our fearless leader has a plan. Biden has repeatedly urged school districts to just spend more money on “safe” re-openings. Last week, Chief of Staff Ron Klain said, “What you’re seeing is schools that haven’t made the investments to keep the students safe.” Biden says he wants students back in school, but the only solution he supports is funnelling billions of dollars into teachers’ unions. 

Is anyone surprised? Teachers’ unions got Biden elected. Any retaliation on his part — even in the name of education — would be a dangerous political move. Instead, Biden’s plans to reopen schools “safely” will no doubt include billions of dollars for unrelated measures.

After almost two years of criticisms about former President Donald Trump’s leadership abilities, I hoped Biden would show us what he thought we were missing. But by safeguarding personal interests over the wellbeing of millions of children, he’s confirmed my worst suspicions.

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Luckily, not all schools have closed. My college, Hillsdale College, a private liberal arts school in Southeast Michigan, resumed in-person classes at the turn of the fall 2020 semester. On principle, Hillsdale doesn’t accept federal funding, meaning the government has little control over our day-to-day operations. The college remained open throughout the fall semester, until Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released an executive order prohibiting in-person learning with only two weeks left. This semester, Hillsdale has continued in-person education, welcoming students back as normal.

Unsurprisingly, Hillsdale’s approach is working. The college saw a 110% surge in transfer applications this year. Zach Miller, the senior director of admissions, told the school newspaper that the college “saw an interest from a lot of folks to see what other options might be available if they didn’t want to do their first year in college virtually.”

Freshman year, every student signs Hillsdale’s Honor Code, which reads, “Through education, the student rises to self-government.” Students are not only called to, but in agreement with, the principles of intellectual freedom. I know I’ve been insurmountably blessed by a school, professors, and an administration that place the pursuit of Truth above mask mandates, quarantine, and social distancing guidelines. I wish others could experience that feeling.

One day, the coronavirus will be gone — but man’s natural liberty to exercise the mind, cultivate the soul, and pursue knowledge will remain. The eternity of education is worth fighting for, and denying children the curriculum for life will have more long-lasting effects than COVID-19 ever could.

We should be disappointed by Biden’s response to teachers’ unions, but we shouldn’t be taken aback. What else would you expect out of a man who’s catered to labor unions for 50-plus years? This president won’t cherish our liberties — unless they don’t cost him anything.

Haley Strack is studying politics and journalism at Hillsdale College. She is an intern with the Convention of States Project.

About The Author

Brianna is a national staff writer at Convention of States Action.