Our schools need to do better than this.

It won’t be easy for President Biden to get America’s teachers back into public schools. Teachers unions are a powerful force in Democratic politics, and they’re resisting calls to return to classrooms where about half the nation’s kids ought to be sitting.

When asked about the issue on Monday, Biden seemed to back up the unions, saying the onus was on districts and governments to make the classrooms safer.

Behind closed doors, however, Biden’s message to the teachers should be straightforward and emphatic: You are vital, irreplaceable public servants. And it’s time you started acting like it.

You don’t have to be a parent to understand the growing perils of what’s euphemistically known as “remote learning.” It is basically a hollow and socially isolating echo of real school that has dragged on for almost a year now in scores of large districts.

According to Erica L. Green in the New York Times, a stunning 18 students in Clark County, Nev., committed suicide between March and December. Adolescence is hard enough under normal circumstances; navigating it alone, caught up in currents of social media and eddies of academic confusion, can be dangerous.

In a recent Post piece, Lavanya Sithanandam, a pediatrician (and friend of mine) who runs a clinic serving minority families in Maryland’s Montgomery County, noted the disproportionate impact of online learning on her patients, who don’t have the same access to private tutors and high-end technology that richer parents do.

Last week, Montgomery County teachers rebelled against yet another plea from Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to get back to school. The defiant district and its union claim that transmission rates are too high and that there isn’t time to put sufficient safeguards in place for teachers — although there is little evidence, to this point, that masked schoolchildren are actually spreading the virus in districts where they have returned to school.

Read the rest at: washingtonpost.com

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