DFER Statement on COVID-19 & Education in the First Presidential Debate
September 29, 2020
Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries released the following statement regarding the COVID-19 discussion in tonight’s Presidential Debate:
“Tonight’s debate will raise many vital, and deeply concerning issues for Americans, including the devastating and widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our country. One of the longstanding effects of this pandemic will be the ways in which it has exacerbated inequities for our nation’s highest need students—thanks in part to the Trump Administration’s failure to provide resources and support to our teachers and students in these challenging times.
There is no question that the interruptions to learning and time out of the classroom have created challenges for all of our children, but they have been felt most deeply by those students who already face the greatest barriers to an equitable education. Reopening schools must be a local decision—a decision that both honors the health and safety of our students and educators, while ensuring that historically underserved students don’t fall farther behind their better-resourced peers. That may mean prioritizing in-person instruction for the students who need it most, or returning to school with a hybrid model of instruction–two ideas we’ve found to receive strong support from parents. What states and districts need most is guidance on how to navigate reopening in a way that promotes equity, address academic needs, and supports students’ social and emotional well-being—not a blanket decree from Trump for schools to simply reopen.
Rather investing in districts and schools hit hardest by the pandemic, Trump’s Administration failed to pass a COVID relief package that would provide sufficient funding to public education or expand access to internet connectivity for the 12 million students unable to participate in online distance learning. As our public schools buckle under the financial burdens they’re left to shoulder, Trump and DeVos unlawfully attempted to channel millions of dollars intended for public schools to for-profit and private schools.
Our students need a President who understands the importance of protecting their health and safety, while not exacerbating the harmful effects that disruptions in learning can have on their education—a President who will be committed to making sure all students have the resources they need to thrive whether they’re learning in a classroom, or remotely. Most importantly, we all need a President who will heed the advice of scientists and doctors so that our future scientists, doctors, and teachers can have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
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