National School Choice Week

President Biden Should Tell Chicago Teachers To Return to School

Teachers unions in Chicago and elsewhere are militantly defying requests to reopen.

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If President Joe Biden really wanted to unite the country at this moment of profound political crisis and existential dread, a powerful gesture is available to him. He could earn the appreciation of millions of parents by simply asserting that public school teachers—including those currently on strike in Chicago—must return to their classrooms.

Unfortunately, Biden and his surrogates have repeatedly sidestepped questions from reporters, giving no indication that the administration will defy the politically powerful teachers unions currently waging a quixotic campaign to keep schools closed for as long as possible.

"It seems like Biden is refusing to acknowledge the fact that there is increasingly a conflict between school districts that are trying to make schools safe so kids can get back to in-class learning with PPE [personal protective equipment] and better ventilation and more, and teachers unions who are concerned about their teachers getting COVID and are basically just refusing what the health officials say they should be doing," said CNN's Jake Tapper on his program Tuesday evening.

Erin Burnett, another CNN anchor, asked White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain about schools. Klain demurred, saying that Congress must allocate billions in funding for schools before many of them can reopen.

"We need Congress to pass that plan so we can do the kinds of things you need to do so that the schools can be safe, so the teachers can be safe, so the students can be safe—sadly, it costs money," said Klain.

Chicago Public Schools, though, has already implemented many of the mitigation strategies that government planners have in mind, and the district believes teachers can safely go back to class. Officials have good reason to think this: Outside major cities, many schools—including a great number of private schools that lack easy access to government dollars—have been open since at least September, and there's simply no evidence of widespread disease in classrooms. Schools have not played host to superspreader events, and there's little reason to think that students are infecting their teachers. Even the CDC, which is hardly known for taking an incautious approach to resuming normal life, says that schools can reopen safely.

Try telling that to teachers unions: Their response is thunderous denial that schools are safe enough yet. In fact, Chicago teachers are now engaged in what the district has described as an "illegal strike" to disrupt the city's plan to reopen schools on February 1. The strike has actually forced Chicago preschools—which were open already—to close down because the teachers don't plan to show up.

"As a result, we have no choice but to ask parents to keep your children home [Wednesday]," said the district in a statement. "We are greatly concerned for our youngest and highest-need students, who are suddenly without a safe, in-person learning option, and are continuing to make all possible efforts to reach an agreement that addresses the union's priorities and provides families a much-needed resolution."

Thanks to the Chicago Teachers Union's efforts, city schools are even more shut down than they were a week ago. But the union is perfectly content to hold the city hostage for as long as possible. Its Twitter account recently released a video of "rank-and-file dance teachers" expressing their opposition to reopening through the medium of dance.

National teachers union boss Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that she stands behind CTU "100 percent." And if Biden disagrees with the teachers unions, he certainly isn't saying so. (His incoming deputy education secretary fought tooth and nail to keep San Diego schools closed.)

The administration's evasiveness on the question of school reopenings must be demoralizing for U.S. families who desperately want their children back in school and accept the scientific consensus that this can and should be done right now. The teachers unions have made it perfectly clear that they will thwart reopening plans, not just this month and next, but also in the fall, and perhaps in 2022 as well. In Fairfax, Virginia, a teachers union president recently asserted that she would keep kids out of school at least three days each week, even if school employees had been vaccinated.

Many of the public education system's neediest students have now been at home, suffering through the farce of virtual learning, for nearly an entire year. With no powerful public union on their side, they have truly become the unheard. They deserve better choices than this.

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  1. “because no one should have to choose between life and livelihood.”

    So why do democrats close business to deny this choice to millions?
    Is it possible they are lying fascists?

    welcome to the revolution.

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    3. A livelihood outside a union is an oxymoron.

      Sort of like Democratic Socialist, except more so and not fake news.

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    7. They don’t close all businesses. It most likely depends on how much you donate in campaign contributions and larger businesses are naturally able to donate more.

    8. Rob by, I usually agree with your logic, but this is confounding; how is it either important, urgent, or significant? Everything mentioned is reduced to 2 words:

      OR ELSE???

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  2. Teachers unions in Chicago and elsewhere are militantly defying requests to reopen.If President Joe Biden really wanted to unite the country at this moment of profound political crisis and existential dread, a powerful gesture is available to him………..more detail.

    1. Stop paying them. Today.

  3. At this point, just let ’em cook their own goose.

    Those people who haven’t seen the absurdity in this yet are going to stay willfully ignorant to it.

    I’ll make a suggestion that the Reason Foundation, Cato Institute, and any other free-market/school choice organization should start a scholarship fund to help families afford alternative education paths in these areas where public schools remain closed. I’ll gladly donate.

    1. A quick web search brought me to this:

      https://scholarshipfund.org

      I plan to research the organization a little better before I donate, but it seems like the exact type of charity that liberty-minded folks could get behind.

      Robby, how bouts giving them a look and possibly using your platform to give them/families in need of school choice a boost?

  4. “Many of the public education system’s neediest students have now been at home, suffering through the farce of virtual learning, for nearly an entire year.”

    As opposed to the face of learning in person. Come on, guy. Have you ever been to a public school in Chicago? 95% are little more than detention facilities for imbeciles.

    1. Well dressed imbeciles wearing looted clothing and gunshot scars.

  5. I don’t think biden has that kind of power over local issues. what kind of authoritarian are you now. that said I’m sure the local mayors gov’s whatever do have authority but are too weak to use it because its those same unions that support them.

    1. He’s got that bully pulpit, and would be a huge hit with the voting public, but he doesn’t need them any more. He needs those union dollars and union vote makers counters.

    2. Doesn’t matter either way. Biden’s “solution” will be giving the unions what they want. Mo’ Money.

    3. I don’t think biden has that kind of power over local issues

      What? Schools don’t take federal money now? They are sure as shit going to be paying everyone in the schools $15/hour.

  6. No he shouldn’t.

    The President of the USA should have zero say in what local schools do. He has no Constitutional authority, nor should we want the President to have such authority.

    1. Constitutional authority = “Whatever a beclowned Supreme Court decides is constitutional authority based on how badly the ensuing riots are going to be.”

      Our opinions on the matter are entirely irrelevant.

    2. There is one constitutional authority he has. Tell the teacher’s unions that the DOE will cut off all federal funding to local school districts that don’t re-open for full in-person education.

      1. That’s the most direct, but there are others. Per your and Geiger’s statements, if we were dealing with a true maverick like Trump there is a considerable amount of fuckbaggery he could get up to. An EO saying dues required from non-members and the pensions negotiated on those grounds constituted taking and wouldn’t be honored by the fedgov.

        But, again, we’re talking about Biden and he wants to give these people money to work one day every 4 years.

      2. He will do the opposite. He will give them MORE MONEY.

    3. The President of the USA should have zero say in what local schools do. He has no Constitutional authority, nor should we want the President to have such authority.

      Except the local schools are only half of the equation and, in this case, among the least locally fiscally solvent schools in the nation.

      Is a President powerless as Unions hold State gov’t hostage for bills that the fedgov will wind up paying out on? IDK.

      However, the above question is almost certainly moot as Biden is more than willing to buy their vote.

    4. The local school boards and unions are using the guise of CDC direction to keep closed (despite even Fauci saying to reopen). He could make the CDC guidance much clearer.

    5. Then why do we have a “department of education” at the federal level? It almost seems beyond the bounds of constitutional authority.

      1. you are spot on. One of the many FedGov alphabet soup agencies that never should have been established and need disestablishing stat.

  7. You know, even after COVID dies down, teachers will still be at risk of catching other illnesses from their students. We need to close down the schools permanently.

    1. No more schooling, and also kids can vote at age 10.

      1. Letting 10 year olds vote is too extreme.
        We should let twitter and facebook determine from their activity how they would vote if they could vote, and count that.

        1. Our entire electoral system is about to be replaced by a new system called “Poll and Extrapolate.”

          If 4,500 “random” respondents vote 95% Democrat, 4% Independent, 1% Republican, there is no point of risking people’s lives, or wasting their time, with an “election” to which we already know the results.

      2. No more schooling, and also kids can vote at age 10
        You laugh

  8. Quit framing this like the teachers are concerned about their health.

    They like working from home because it removed the worst part of their job: babysitting for the general public. Of course they don’t want to go back to that and they’ll keep moving the goalposts for “safe enough” for as long as we let them.

    If they’re not there on Feb 1, fire them.

    1. I have never seen that many grossly overweight “dance teachers”. Lizzo saw this herd and decided to lose weight.

    2. They like working from home because it removed the worst part of their job: babysitting for the general public.

      In a bit of a backhanded defense; for at least some of these teachers, by their and their predecessors’ doing, it’s less babysitting and more literally guard duty. As in standing watch over these kids as they walk home and then protesting in support of their father as he violates a restraining order and gets shot in the back going for a knife.

  9. “President Biden Should Tell Chicago Teachers To Return to School”. To quote from the great Raising Arizona – “And if a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its ass a-hoppin’ “

  10. We need this president to be more of an authoritarian fascist!

  11. Robby can’t even pretend to be libritarian. As we all knew from the onset he is an authoritarian.

  12. I was in the military during 9/11. When I got the call to deploy to Afghanistan, my team and I decided not to go. Instead, we, the rank and file, dressed as the Village People and expressed our displeasure through interpretive dance. Well, soon enough, they threw us all in the Brig and cut our pay. Hint, hint.
    The Chicago Teachers Union is as about as close to a real-life South Park episode as you can get. I spent 6 years there, I never learned anything of worth. My classmates were struggling through “The Cat in the Hat” in Senior year.

    1. Can vouch for that, I too attended public school in Chicago.

  13. Maybe we could build a bullet proof glass enclosure between the students and the teacher, will that satisfy them of course not its not about health

    1. Better to put the teacher in a sealed clear box.

  14. President Biden Should Tell Chicago Teachers To Return to School

    I’m so old that I can remember when the President trying to impose federal rules on state matters was being an authoritarian dictator and a literal Hitler.

    1. Right.
      Search ‘Little Rock Nine’

      “By the end of September 1957, the nine were admitted to Little Rock Central High under the protection of the 101st Airborne Division.”

      Note 1: Regular US Army troops, not national guard.
      Note 2: Search posse comitatus

      Welcome to the revolution.

  15. “President Biden Should Tell Chicago Teachers To Return to School”

    There are a couple of issues with this headline.

    1) The teachers don’t take their orders from Joe Biden or the Democrats. The Democrats take their orders from the teachers.

    Here’s Jacobin (socialist as hell) explaining why both Rahm Emanuel and Lightfoot couldn’t do anything to the teachers.

    They’re more or less right on the facts. They just think that elected officials not being able to do anything to the teachers’ unions is a good thing.

    2) Politicians aren’t the solution to these problems. Voters are the only solution.

    There is no alternative to voters who are willing to punish the people who represent them on their local city council and on their local school boards by voting for candidates in an opposing party.

    Despite being treated like garbage by the Democrats that run Chicago and its school districts for 50 or 60 years, there hasn’t been any significant Republican representation in Chicago in all that time. When the voters in the general election will only vote for Democrats, then who wins is decided during the nomination process, and the nomination process is dominated by the city’s law enforcement and teachers’ unions.

    The solution has nothing to do with Biden and should have nothing to do with Biden. The problem is that the school board and the city council are at the mercy of the teachers’ unions, and the solution is for the voters in Chicago to hold their elected representatives accountable by voting for challengers from another party. If they won’t vote for anyone who isn’t a Democrat, then they should continue to suffer the negative consequences of their foolish choices. That’s the only way stupid people learn.

    1. ” If they won’t vote for anyone who isn’t a Democrat, then they should continue to suffer the negative consequences of their foolish choices. That’s the only way stupid people learn.”

      Ironically, this is a far more effective education than anything they’d receive in a Chicago Public School.

      1. What about rational individuals that happen to live in these areas? It seems a bit collectivist to ascribe guilt and judgment upon everyone within these jurisdictions.

        1. I feel for them, but Joe Biden’s efforts won’t save them either.

          1. I agree completely with that. In general, I err on the side of federalism.

            This might be a viable course of action:

            https://scholarshipfund.org

        2. I would take the position that those rational individuals should rationally move and live elsewhere.

          1. While freedom of movement and the ability to vote with your feet is one of the things that makes America a great country to live in, it’s not always a viable option, and often exacerbates the root problems anyway.

            People should not be subjected to tyranny* regardless of where they live.

            (*speaking generally, I don’t care to discuss whether this, specifically, qualifies as tyranny)

            1. This is true, but one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you’ve lived in Chicago for a while and justify it with “but I’m voting for the right people! It’s everyone else whose to blame!” you’re literally an insane person. That removes you from the “rational” category.

              I get wanting liberty to come to you, but at some point you have to realize that all of your neighbors are hostile to the very idea of liberty and if you want to experience even a modicum of it you gotta go somewhere else.

              1. I think there’s probably many, many reasons that most people decide where to live… most of them probably have nothing to do with politics (probably how it should be). Proximity to family, career, climate, recreation, etc.

                FWIW, I do find it baffling that the majority voting patterns of most urban areas remain unchanged regardless of results.

              2. That’s not a definition, it’s an example. And not a very good one.

          2. They have been, for a long time. That’s why the Left is so hell bent on imposing their will on an ever larger scale. One day there’ll be nowhere left to run.

          3. But there are other reasons to be in a place besides the political cliamte. To move may not be the rational choice for many when all relevant factors are considered. No one deserved to be fucked over just by virtue of living in a particular place.

    2. Despite being treated like garbage by the Democrats that run Chicago and its school districts for 50 or 60 years, there hasn’t been any significant Republican representation in Chicago in all that time.

      Hell, have any major urban areas been run by Republicans in the last 90-100 years? San Diego, maybe? Democrats have been running urban political machines since Martin Van Buren, why would they change such a successful model when idiot urbanites keep voting them in time after time?

    3. 2) Politicians aren’t the solution to these problems. Voters are the only solution.

      Slight disagreement. A conventional or status quo politician, democrat, republican, or libertarian, isn’t the solution to these problems. I agree that such a politician would need populist support but I don’t necessarily see such a thing happening by the will of the people alone. I’ve mentioned the Trump icon in the past, this is a crystalline example.

      As others pointed out above, what Biden should do is cut federal funding to the schools who can’t get their teachers back into classrooms and refuse anything even remotely associated with state bailouts until the issue is resolved. Only Trump or someone similarly unconventional (*maybe* Thomas Massie is similarly unconventional), would pull such a dick move.

    4. who OWNS the Chicago schools? Do not the ChiTown taxpayers? If so, THEY are the only ones to rise up and say ENOUGH ALREADY. Flood the council meetings, school district meetings, etc, and DEMAND the schools eihter be reopened to full capacity or closed down, thus “letting go” all the emplloyee,s starting with the teachers and admin. THEY are the ones sandbagging and thieving. Taking money and returning NO services is theft. Busting the union is the ONLY way to fix this.

      But NO President of the US has the authoirty to order the teachers/admin back to work. He COULD, if willing (I know, right?!?) begin a serious campaign to badmouth and shame them back to work. That might be more Trump’s style, though. Sleepy Joe? Not bloody l,ikely. Cowards never take strong stands.

  16. First weeks of a new presidency and Reason decides to go all in on public education.

    Talk about getting off into the weeds.

    Why no grand celebratory article about Biden’s EO on immigration?

    1. Well, it is national education week.
      (it used to be national school choice week, but that is not inclusive or unifying)

      1. National lack of education week, it would seem.

    2. It is reasonable to have opinions on how public education ought to be run even if you don’t think it should exist.

  17. Not gonna happen. Union offices don’t open before 9AM, and Biden’s already napping by then.

  18. I want a pony!

    1. No problem.
      Just file the environmental impact statement for the disposal of the excrement, identify all alternative uses of the pasture area for more socially responsible activities, and pay for the appropriate licenses and vet certificates.

  19. Fire them all.

  20. Biden is no Ronald Reagan.

    Reagan was a friend of labor, and had PATCO’s full support in his election. But Reagan also swore to protect, preserve and defend, he took seriously the breach the air traffic controllers made when they broke their sworn promise not to strike, then ignored the court order to return. Firing was the best and post appropriate action. And the ban for life from public service was also appropriate; it is not as if we would ever again accept their promise not to strike.

    Essential people have been at work without interruption. Teachers have by their actions proven they are not essential.

    1. Nice shot!!

  21. “President Biden Should Tell Chicago Teachers To Return to School”

    So long as we’re dreaming big, why not say Biden should preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, lol?

  22. Why does Biden have to tell Chicago teachers to go back to work? That’s the Mayor of Chicago’s job and she isn’t doing it.

  23. Unarmed black pastor, Patrick Warren killed by Killeen Police officer… on January 10th.

    No riots. No BLM, no Brian Stelter on CNN lisping the story out. No outrage media. No days of rage. Just a quiet, local story.

    I may not be able to correctly predict a presidential election outcome, but I sure as fuck predicted this.

    1. The officer who shot him was Reynaldo Contreras. It happened in Texas. The dots connect themselves.

      The family insists that the officer was hostile, but that’s hard to see in the bits of video that’s shown in the article.

    2. The appropriate “BLM” leadership have served their purpose and are being paid off to cool it during the Biden years. Don’t worry though, they’ll be ready to go as needed. Consider it “standing down but standing by”.

  24. What a joke you are Reason!

  25. Watch the best libertarian speech on the US Senate floor, as Sen. Rand Paul exposes how Trump’s Impeachment Trial is unconstitutional, and why Democrats are lying hypocrites.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTiGZeyZw3s&feature=emb_title

    1. If there are any libertarians left at Reason, why haven’t you applauded (or even cited) Rand Paul’s excellent speech?

      1. Look, we’re in Unity Mode right now. You need to hush your mouth with that contrarian libertarian stuff. We’re not even noting the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of trigger-happy police. That’s so 2020.

  26. “President Biden Should Tell Chicago Teachers To Return to School”

    No.

    Doctor Jill Biden Should Tell Chicago Teachers To Return to School, as she’s a doctor (i.e. EdD) who is an expert on failing public schools

  27. It has never really been about “the children”. It has always been about union power and control of puppet politicians so they can get extravagant pay and benefits for not really working. That is the Progressive Way.

    Others foot the bill and pay the price while favored , anointed special interests engorge themselves like ticks on a sick dog.

  28. Smart parents who aren’t blinded by ideology have already opted out of the broken and corrupt public indoctrination system.

    They and their children will be smarter and better off for their choice.

    1. If you care about the kiddos, get them the fuck out of public schools. This involves supporting candidates that will consider vouchers. That means don’t vote for fucking Democrats.

      Q.E.D.

    2. We are homeschooling now…our two children (11 and 13).

      We are loving this. They are learning so much more.

  29. I am thinking that “teacher jokes” might be replacing “lawyer jokes” for the most popular job-related humor.

    A modest example: “What do you call it when 500 teachers are standing in a lake with water up to their necks?”

  30. Look I’m basically a libertarian Independent with no political sway in Cook County and while there’s a lot to get pissed off about with the City, the County and the State, I gotta say that in this case, putting that ridiculous video aside, I support the teachers here 100%. Just hear me out.

    Me and my siblings came up through a combo of the Chicago public schools and Catholic schools. That basically boiled down to the twins who had special needs that CPS just couldn’t meet in the 70s and 80s so they went to Catholic school. Catholic schools in the city have changed a lot in the years since then if they’re even still around and then there’s the posh one that any native knows with a tuition that would blow your mind but the days of knowing everyone from their parish? That’s gone. The days of reasonable classrooms in our public schools? Yeah, those are gone also and so are a lot of the other necessities to stay up to date. What we do still have are the teachers. The bureaucracy on the administrative side may be more bloated and the buildings may need some serious TLC but we got the teachers. I got 4 kids in CPS and one who made out with a ride to Michigan. Whip smart. The teachers are the best thing going at these schools. The schools are incredibly overloaded and poorly budgeted and the days of 20 kid classrooms are long gone and yet these teachers make it work sometimes with 35 kids to a class in any given year and they do it with a smile and a genuine compassion I rarely see elsewhere despite how underpaid they are. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a couple of real thorns in our side but that’s life but my guys and girls are learning and that matters. My 8th grader saw a big bump on a string of standardized tests he had to take last week on premises. They miss their friends but they get along aside from a few sucker punches.

    Bottom line, I don’t think you can apply a mandate to every school in the country without thinking about the unique circumstances of each environment. City or suburbs? Town or Country. I’m kind of surprised that I’m reading in Reason that the President should mandate a one size fits all approach from on high.

  31. Yes, the teacher’s unions are behaving badly…but, federalism?

    1. Public schools take federal money, so congress could tie the money directly to students. Why pay state institutions when they don’t do their jobs?

  32. Biden barely knows where he is at.

    He’s an absolute idiot.

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  33. Plus, the Chicago school teachers, plus most everyone else that works in public schools there, got a 16% raise in 2020.

  34. “Klain demurred, saying that Congress must allocate billions in funding for schools before many of them can reopen.”

    Your kids education is being held hostage to force Congress to pass the Democrat’s multi-trillion dollar wish list disguised as ‘COVID relief’.

  35. The President has no authority to order teachers back to work. However, the President can and should use the bully pulpit to shame them into going back to work.

    Sadly, I fear that the article is correct in predicting that he will find excuses to stay on the sideline.

  36. B only does what the off-stage voice commands him to do.

  37. “Public schools can reopen because private schools have already opened and reported no widespread covid outbreak”

    Chicago Teacher’s Union – “Yeah but we have to teach all the black and Latino kids from high infection areas and…. oops never mind forget I said that”

    Any time liberals prattle on about “systemic racism”, they should be reminded on exactly who runs the system.

    1. systemic racism is just code for any system not run by leftys. white supremacist is code for anyone right of far left. justice is code for marxist. high society.

  38. I have now personally heard the following from two separate Public School directors, in two separate states (Colorado and Arizona), that the reason they continue to stay closed is the fear of being sued. Sued by whom? By the hysterical over-protective Helicopter Parents who believe that Covid-19 is going to kill their children (along with everything else they see around them), and that this fear will translate into lawsuits that will crush school budgets.

    So, we are at the mercy of hysterical parents and their lawyers…

    Fucking beautiful.

  39. 107 people under the age of 20 have died of Covid-19.

    Sadly, 24,000 people under 20 have died during the past 12 months from all other causes.

    Under 20 years old has a 1 in 33,000 chance of dying IF he/she catches coronavirus.

    Who are we protecting?

  40. If the government wants to deal with the (government-created) school crisis, they should tell teachers to return to work 1 week from next Monday, or face the loss of their jobs and seniority. And then make it happen. The unemployment of some thousands of teachers would leave no one worse off than the current status quo. No, perhaps politicians would be worse off, facing the loss of their teacher’s union support.

  41. President Biden Should Tell Chicago Teachers To Return to School

    That sure sounds like a Chicago problem, not a federal problem. Biden should mind his own damn business.

  42. Poor Reason, still thinking that Joe is gonna do anything other than help out left wing organizations and causes to the detriment of the rest of us and our liberty.

    All of this was obvious if you wanted to see it.

  43. How ironic that the Reason team is advocating slavery for people when the lead photo is of all black persons.

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  46. Remember how President Ronald Reagan took care of the PATCO (air controllers’) union? I didn’t think so (you too young?).
    Where is Reagan when we need him?
    ABOLISH TAX-FUNDED SCHOOLS! All of them. Now!
    And end the “educational” drafting of our children. (Also) Now!

  47. Education by govt. is indoctrination. It’s sold as “free” but forced? Why is it necessary to force a gift on all? Because it’s a necessary tool of authoritarianism. Without universal early brainwashing, more people would be questioning the political paradigm based on the initiation of force, threats, fraud. Faith in force could not be defended as a viable, civil, sustainable social system. The politics of violence serves an elite nobility in the short run at the cost of humanity in the long run. This fact is not widely known. It is kept from discussion by authorities who label its alternative, a voluntary politics, as anarchy/chaos. The opposite is true. The non-violent society is a society free to innovate, to evolve, to grow more civil by disruptive experimentation. This is forbidden by the concept of law, one way forced on all, no dissent, no freedom to live by one’s sovereign intellect. Reason be damned. Force trumps it. And that is sold as “order”, despite the chaos this authoritarian superstition produces. And still, the majority worship it, kill/die to force it on all.

  48. Biden has no authority to tell teachers what time of day it is, much less anything else.

    1. He’s the President, he can shame the hell out of them and berate them, because they deserve both.

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