The Corner


Ron Klain’s Excuse for Closed Schools Is Even Weaker Than It Looked

As I’ve noted before — here and here, with the assistance of Dan Lips of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity — we have good reason to reject White House chief of staff Ron Klain’s argument that schools need more money to improve their safety before they can reopen. The federal government has already allocated $70 billion for the schools during the pandemic, far more than enough to implement CDC guidelines.

Alexander Nazaryan of Yahoo News caught something else. In an interview with Erin Burnett of CNN last week, Klain claimed that a recent, highly publicized study backed his contention. Here’s the exchange.

Burnett: So, today, I know you saw the CDC journal publishing yet another study saying, you know, you can open K-12 schools for in-person learning with minimal COVID transmission. Why do you think so many public schools across this country are still closed in places that the private schools are open?

KLAIN: Yeah, I’ll give you a word, money. That’s why the President of the United States se[n]t a plan into Congress even before he took office, to make the investments you need to make the school safe. What that study in Wisconsin from the CDC showed was, the 17 rural schools that got a sizable grant from a private foundation, to put in the kinds of safety measures that they needed.

Nazaryan called the foundation, which told him the “sizable grant” was $150,000. “They need more federal money to re-open” is an excuse, and not a good one.

Update: I originally, and incorrectly, typed in $150 million for the “sizable grant”; thanks to reader JK for alerting me to the error.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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