Sidestepping Covid-19 to focus on school choice is like DeVos skipping over gun safety concerns about schools to focus on the threat of grizzly bears. I’m of course referring to comments made during her confirmation hearing.
Once again, she fails to focus on the real risk. Covid-19 is not going to discriminate between schools. It doesn’t care if students attend the most expensive private school, the holiest parochial school, the poorest charter school, or a wealthy segregated public school in Georgia!
President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are an example of poor leadership during the coronavirus. They want all public schools to open and never discuss how to address the problems school officials face during a pandemic.
DeVos has turned the virus into a school choice issue, blaming the mean teachers and their unions for keeping some public schools running remotely. She shows no sympathy or understanding for the confusion and fear this virus creates for everyone. Instead, she capitalizes on this terrible time to attack public education and teachers, pushing her choice agenda.
Like sidestepping the gun and school safety issue to focus on grizzly bears, she doesn’t attempt to tackle the coronavirus problem as it relates to public schools. She creates conflict between parents and teachers, hoping parents will sign their students out of public school. She offers no solutions and blames teachers as they try desperately to help students from afar.
One can argue that some schools will be better prepared or have fewer students. But that’s still a gamble since many of these schools follow the in-your-face lead of the President and DeVos concerning the virus. They refuse to take it seriously. Sometimes they wear masks. Other times they don’t. They don’t seem to be social distancing.
In a recent picture of a Georgia school’s crowded hallway, few students wore masks. The student who took the picture was later suspended! After concern from the public, she was unsuspended. (Note: This student might enjoy Jamie Margolin’s Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It. She understood how to use her voice well here. But I digress.)
DeVos’s ideas resonate with parents who believe like she and the President that public schools should open. It might provide a false sense of comfort, thinking those in leadership positions know what’s best. Unfortunately, Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate between schools. Just like all schools still need better safety solutions involving guns and gun control to protect students!
For example, V.P. Pence and DeVos recently visited Thales Academy a private school, which afterwards announced it’s now quarantining fourth graders for fourteen days because a student there tested positive for the virus. In pictures of that original encounter, Pence and DeVos entered the classroom with masks, then removed them. Some students were not wearing masks.
DeVos recently tweeted, Many parents say they feel like they’re part of a silent majority, whose desire to have their children back in school has been pushed aside by school officials who are buckling to pressure from teachers unions. She was in part referring to Chicago, where teachers fought to work remotely and won. Teachers are looking out for the safety of their students and themselves due to coronavirus concerns.
Some parents there, like DeVos, say schools should open because they’re focused on the mental health concerns of students, but they are sidestepping the virus too. We all understand that closing schools creates problems for students. We need to think of better solutions to address student mental health and keep students safe from the virus. The virus is the problem, not the teachers.
Today DeVos again tweeted:
The #COVID19 pandemic has made clear the antiquated one-size-fits-all approach to education is no longer tenable. Education going forward must be more adaptable and student-centered. It’s time to unleash a new era of innovation & drive unprecedented achievement. #SchoolChoiceNow
This virus doesn’t care what school your child attends. This isn’t about choice, like the gun problems facing schools were never about grizzly bears.