- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 10, 2020

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday that teachers unions are failing U.S. students by pushing for continued remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no excuse,” Mrs. DeVos said on Fox Business. “The only reason kids are not back to school in person in too many places is because the teachers unions have been standing in the way and have been playing politics with children’s lives.

“Kids are suffering across the country, falling farther and farther behind, and the ones who are most hurt are the ones who are most vulnerable: children with disabilities, children from low-income families,” she continued. “Those are the ones who we profess to want to be able to help and ensure that they have equal opportunities and yet they are the ones that are suffering most because their families don’t have alternatives. It’s a crime and it has to change. We have got to empower parents to make those decisions for their children because the schools and the systems that they are a part of simply aren’t cutting it.”

Teachers unions across the country have made headlines in recent months for their efforts to block schools from reopening, arguing that doing so would put themselves and their students in danger, though new data suggests in-school transmission of the virus is significantly low.

The Chicago Teachers Union sparked criticism earlier this week after claiming that the push to reopen schools “is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny.” The union, like others, has been advocating for more funding to hire additional staff and implement testing and contact tracing programs.

Mrs. DeVos argued Thursday that instead of funneling money into schools that remain closed, those taxpayer funds should be used to bolster school choice.

“There’s been early data demonstrating that the overall loss of lifetime earnings is substantial and it’s growing,” she said. “For every day that a child is not in school or not learning, their long-term prospects look dimmer and dimmer.”

“This is an issue that the pandemic has laid bare,” she added. “Our K-12 education system has been dysfunctional and broken for many students, for many years. Now is the time to change and empower those families to make the decisions for their children. … School choice is the answer.”

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