During the pandemic, President Biden sacrificed children’s learning to appease a major teachers union, agreeing to its demand to postpone the return to the classroom for many of the nation’s students, The Atlantic writer Franklin Foer documented in his new book, “The Last Politician.”

“For the sake of avoiding conflict, especially conflict with an ally, the Biden administration trimmed its goal of returning kids to school to a fraction of what had been promised on the campaign trail,” the author wrote.

That ally, the American Federation of Teachers stewarded by Randi Weingarten, conspired with the Biden administration to extend school closures and modify CDC guidance on masks and other Covid restrictions. 

On the campaign trail, Biden had announced an objective to help a majority of kindergarten-to-eighth-grade schools reopen within his first 100 days in office. As one of his first orders of business in January 2021, Biden signed an executive order that directed the Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on school reopenings and the spread of Covid-19 as part of an effort to expedite kids going back to school. 

However, Biden signaled early on that he would prioritize teachers union interests over those of children. On the first day of Biden’s presidency, First Lady Jill Biden invited Weingarten and National Education Association President Becky Pringle to the White House, Foer noted. 

“I said I was going to bring you with me to the White House,” the First Lady said. “And on day one, you’re here.”

A week later, Biden called Weingarten to reiterate his commitment to her organization’s members and their preference to delay full school reopening, deploying his wife as a liaison to nudge the unions into reverting to in-person learning on an earlier timeline. 

“I am not abandoning you on schools. I want you to know that,” Biden told Weingarten, according to Foer’s book. 

Ultimately, Biden’s goal was downgraded to a far less ambitious version that accommodated the unions. 

The updated strategy that did the bidding of the union giant “came as an aside in a press conference,” Foer added. “Jen Psaki explained that Biden had really meant that he wanted more than half of the pre-K-to-8 schools to attend at least one in-person session a week by the end of his first hundred days.”

The new goal, a major deduction from an original, almost certainly sealed a fate for America’s children of irrevocable learning loss in major subjects, which still continues to drive poor academic outcomes. 

“He was, in effect, conceding that for thousands of students, the rest of the school year would be lost to the pandemic,” Foer wrote. “It was the price of peace.”