Psaki: Emergency School Funding Wouldn't Actually Be Used This Academic Year

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Posted: Feb 22, 2021 6:20 PM
Psaki: Emergency School Funding Wouldn't Actually Be Used This Academic Year

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday admitted that the $130 billion that is earmarked for schools in the latest COVID relief bill, if passed, wouldn't be utilized for the remainder of the academic year. Instead, the money will be given to schools for hiring and maintenance purposes in hopes of students returning to the classroom in the fall. 

"A big challenge here for a number of schools is that they need, in order to operate responsibly, and given the threat of budget cuts, they need to obligate funds according to spending plans rather than exhausting all balances as soon as received," Psaki said. "The challenge here is, how do they plan ahead, right? They can hire if they need to hire additional teachers now for smaller class sizes or if they need to hire bus drivers or if they need to do improvements to their facilities."

"They want to know, understandably, just like any business or company, that they will be able to employ teachers next year and the year ahead," the press secretary explained. "That's why this funding is so essential because they need to be able to plan ahead so they can make the improvements now, do the hiring now."

Democrats and the White House continue to move the goalposts when it comes to schools reopening for in-person instruction. We have teachers unions telling us it's not safe to return (despite the "follow the science" narrative that says teachers don't need vaccines to safely do their job).

At first teachers refused to go back to work unless they have the vaccine. Legislators have put teachers and those who work with students, including school administrators and bus drivers, at the top of the vaccine list. Many have received the first dose of the COVID vaccine. Others have received both doses. They're receiving what they asked for and yet it still isn't the right time to return to the classroom. Now it's about needing more money, needing to hire more teachers, needing to conduct normal building maintenance, needing whatever else they can possibly think of. 

The reality is teachers have become accustomed to teaching virtually. They like having the ability to teach classes from home. It's convenient. They don't have a commute and they don't have to worry about other aspects of being in the education sector, like fights or recess.

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It's time to give teachers an ultimatum: show up or find another job. They're the only essential workers who have been able to make demands throughout this pandemic. Doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, law enforcement and firefighters have all had to continue to do their jobs on a daily basis. They have had to show up – in person – despite having a higher likelihood than teachers of contracting the virus. 

Some parents and students will want to continue with online schooling. Those teachers that don't feel safe or don't want to return to the classroom can continue with virtual lessons for those who want it. Let the teachers and students who want to be there in person to return to the classroom.