Republicans Still Lying Like Liars About Democrats, Biden, School Closures

Donald Trump was still president in 2020 during the absolute worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic. That's mentally inconvenient for Republicans, so true to form, they promote a narrative from an alternate reality.

During his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said, "Our schools were robbed of so much [because of the pandemic.]" Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted angrily, "Hey Joe, YOU CLOSED THEM!" Joe Biden wasn't president at any point in 2020. Democrats cling tightly to Barack Obama's last year in office. We don't sully 2016 with the image of President Trump.

Of course, Lauren Boebert is very stupid, and 2020 is a big number. Some confusion is expected. (Yes, her objectively false tweet is still up.) However, you'd expect that Sen. Ted Cruz could read a calendar. Instead, he attacked a February 9 Washington Post article from education reporter Donna St. George, "Thanks to covid, half of kids were below grade level in at least one subject."

He whined, "Gaslighting from the Washington Post: 'Thanks to covid.' No — kids are behind academically today because of Democrat [sic] school shutdowns and people like teachers union boss Randi Weingarten."


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Last year, Republican Mike Pompeo smearedRandi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union, as the "most dangerous person in the world" whose teacher cabal is trying to topple the republic through our kids. The pandemic would've seemed the perfect opportunity to further her agenda but instead she just sent everyone home. She's a diabolical mastermind with no follow through.

Cruz, a singularly graceless liar, blames Democrats in general for school shutdowns. He represents (poorly) Texas, whose governor, Greg Abbott, closed schools in the state and kept them closed even while relaxing restrictions on retail businesses.

"The team of doctors advising us have determined it would be unsafe to allow students to gather at schools for the foreseeable future," Abbott said in April 2020.

Yes, some Republican-run states had in-person instruction before Democratic-run ones, such as Oregon, where remote learning remained for most of fall 2020. However, schools that fully reopened before the vaccine was available often suffered serious outbreaks that shut them down again. It's hard for students to learn effectively when their teachers are deathly ill and their subs are between deliveries at Uber Eats.

Cruz calls out a Washington Post op-ed from Amanda Geduld, "I’m a New York public-school teacher. A safe return to school simply isn’t possible right now." It's from August 2020, when COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations were still through the roof.

Geduld, who taught at a Bronx high school, wrote, "In the past week, my school and others with similar demographics have seen a surge of parents shifting their children into remote learning. This week I have received numerous messages from students who have decided to go remote, expressing they feel obligated to put their health and safety first. We should not be asking 17-year-olds to make these impossible choices."

This is a key point that Republicans ignore: Many parents were uncomfortable sending their kids to free-range COVID farms in 2020. The rightwing narrative that lazy teachers didn't prioritize students is appalling. It's also not as if teachers were only risking the sniffles. Teachers were dying. And though far fewer, kids were dying too; COVID is now the eighth leading cause of death for kids.

Schools safely reopening for full in-person instruction is one of the Biden administration's (many) success stories. The Republican efforts to reshape reality are pathetically transparent but that doesn't mean they won't work. It's annoying but we have to keep reminding people what actually happened.

Donna St. George's article addresses a very real problem — pandemic-related learning loss. Students who've fallen behind will need reliable access to what researchers call "high-dosage" tutoring, and that's not available everywhere. Predictably, Cruz is more interested in casting blame than working toward any solution. He remains more of an Internet loudmouth than any sort of useful public servant.

[Washington Post]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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