Pandemic-related school closures are disproportionately impacting students with disabilities. This is not new information.
Recognizing this problem, Republican Leaders wrote a letter calling for a bipartisan investigation into the effects school closures are having on children with disabilities, including whether and how states are complying with federal special education requirements. Republicans have also led the fight to follow the science and safely reopen schools - one that should have bipartisan support but is being swayed by undue political influence from Democrats’ teachers union friends.
More than a month after Republicans called for a bipartisan investigation, Democrats held a hearing during which they failed to address the real issues. However, the hearing gave Mr. Reade Bush, a father of two special needs children who are experiencing the impacts of social isolation firsthand, the opportunity to explain to Democrats the toll of their ‘wait and see’ policies:
‘The lack of social contact and the routine of a normal school day, which are incredibly important to children with Autism, caused [my son] to create an imaginary world last Spring with ‘52 friends,’ as he told us. By summer, his imaginary world had become so real to him that he struggled to differentiate real from the pretend, causing him to have visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations which became so bothersome that on his 9th birthday, he asked me, ‘Daddy, can I die for my birthday?’ In November he was admitted to Children’s National Hospital for 4 days. The doctors told us that his symptoms were from a massive deterioration of his Autism due to the social isolation. He ended up on 6 medications and the doctors said what he needed most was to return to full time, in-person learning so that he could begin to solidify his identity with real, in-person teachers and peers.’
The 40 percent decline in children’s mental health rates is not an abstract figure for many families across the country. Together, Congress has passed bipartisan spending bills that more than triple the $25 billion CDC said is necessary to reopen schools safely. There’s no excuse for this incompetence.
Yet, Democrats had the gall to dismiss Mr. Bush’s real-life testimony and push their left-wing agenda:
- Rep. Hayes equated funding for a socialist wish list to helping struggling students and families walk through school doors.
- Rep. Wilson said school reopenings have not been successful, in-person learning is responsible for community transmission of COVID-19, and Democrats are alone in fighting for schools to reopen. The data has demonstrated this is all untrue.
- Rep. Bowman specifically went to great lengths to talk about President Trump rather than acknowledge parents’ frustration.
While these outlandish partisan talking points might make Democrats feel good they do nothing to help students with disabilities get back to in-person learning.