WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 24, 2020
Much of the debate on reopening schools has focused on teachers, media pundits, administrators, and unions, but this important discussion should be centered on our nation’s students and what’s best for them to achieve lifelong success.
Republican Committee Members used yesterday’s hearing
to put students first by learning more about how to safely reopen America’s classrooms this fall.
Republican Leader of the Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
, pointed out that for many students the greatest chance for success is to have in person instruction in the classroom. Tennessee Commissioner of Education Dr. Penny Schwinn
, agreed saying, “I think that it is critical that we have opportunities for students to be in person. I have young daughters myself, both are in 3rd grade, and one is in kindergarten, and so thinking about for our very young learners, the need to learn to read, that is very difficult to do remotely.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Allen (R-GA) pointed
to alarming reports on learning loss as an urgent reason to give parents the opportunity to send their children back to school. In his opening statement he said, "this past spring more than 55 million students were affected by COVID-19-related school closures. The result? Well, the numbers speak for themselves. The Collaborative for Student Growth projected that some students could experience as much as a 50 percent reduction in typical learning gains as a result of school closures.”
Expanding on these reports, Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA)
noted in his line of inquiry
that “McKinsey & Company has projected that when all the impacts of COVID-19 are considered, students could fall an average of seven months behind academically. This is simply unacceptable. We owe every generation of students a well-rounded education. That encompasses the educational, social, mental, and physical benefits that come with students attending school
The unfortunate truth is that children have and will continue to face hardships if they are absent from in-person instruction. This reality is even more
harsh for low-income and disadvantaged families.
When asked what’s at stake if schools don’t offer parents and families the option for in-person instruction, Dr. Penny Schwinn outlined how learning loss will impact students negatively.
“We know we’re going to have learning loss. That affects our most vulnerable populations more than anyone else, and especially when we think about our early learners. We’ve looked at our child development statistics, we’ve worked closely across state agencies around that and have noticed more of our vulnerable populations are at risk, and they rely on schools for services. It is logistically very difficult to provide those services if children are not in school....”
The takeaway from today’s subcommittee hearing is that we must give families the choice to send their children back to school safely.
Let’s put students first by making sure schools are ready to provide every student effective instruction this fall.