Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) is blaming teachers unions for keeping schools in his state closed even though he has met their main demands for reopening schools.
The Washington Examiner’s David Drucker reported Wednesday that Hogan said in an interview that he has invested $1 billion of federal aid given to Maryland to retrofit school buildings to protect the health and safety of students and teachers, provided 1 million coronavirus test kits to schools, and ensured that teachers were at the front of the line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Despite all this, teachers unions refuse to return to schools, which Hogan said is leading to learning gaps among groups of students.
“It’s critically important that we get our kids back in school. It’s been nearly a year, and the learning loss is incredible, particularly among the most disadvantaged kids from minority communities,” Hogan told the Examiner. “Most of the teachers that we talk to, everywhere, are dying to get back in the classroom. It’s a union organizer-type thing. I don’t really know why.”
Though he believes “Biden wants to get [children] back in school,” Hogan he lamented the pressure that teachers unions appear to have put on the president.
“He’s very passionate about it. But it’s a tug of the teachers union and his base … so he changed his mind,” Hogan said.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the Biden administration keeps shifting the goalposts on what it will take to get schools to reopen. In December, Biden said he wanted to open most schools within the first 100 days as president. Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration meant for 50% of schools to be open at least one day a week. Biden on Tuesday called this a “mistake in the communications,” insisting he did mean that schools would be open “five days a week.”
Other states have also acquiesced to the demands of teachers unions, like moving them to the front of the line for the vaccine, yet they refuse to return to work. Biden has called for increased school funding, yet schools have already been appropriated billions in extra funding and have spent a small fraction of those funds.
Hogan, Drucker reported, is “not empowered” to force schools to reopen.
“In Maryland, much of that power rests with elected school boards. The governor said state and county health officials, as well as school superintendents throughout Maryland, support the reopening of public schools. It’s the school boards, sympathetic to the teachers unions, that continue to waver. So far, less than half of Maryland school districts have reopened campuses for some version of in-person education, particularly those in rural areas,” Drucker reported.
Hogan also decried the fact that keeping public schools closed will further impact disadvantaged students.
“The bigger school systems with the most powerful teachers unions did not” reopen, Hogan told the Examiner. “All the private schools in the state opened in August, so it’s, again, exacerbating the [learning] gap between students that are struggling” and those who are not.