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Critics challenged a message posted to President Biden’s Twitter account about how the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted children’s education, suggesting it left out key details and didn’t target all the right culprits.
“Due to the pandemic, kids are behind in math and reading,” Biden’s Twitter account read Tuesday. “We know how to help bridge this gap. I’m calling on schools to use American Rescue Plan funds to expand tutoring, summer learning, and afterschool programs and to provide 250,000 more tutors and mentors for our kids.”
“Teachers unions fought to keep schools closed for over a year,” Corey DeAngelis, national director of research for the American Federation for Children, responded. He included examples to support his statement.
DeAngelis recalled a tweet from the Chicago Teachers Union in December 2020 that read, “The push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny.” The union deleted the message following backlash.
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Several others argued that it wasn’t the COVID-19 pandemic itself, but how teachers and leaders responded to it that resulted in dropping test scores and lower proficiency rates. Reports found that two years of inconsistent in-person and at-home learning also negatively impacted students’ mental health.
“Recent data from Harvard researchers found that (sic) it was not so much the pandemic itself but decisions by cities and states in response to the pandemic that determined how much kids fell behind,” ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis tweeted.
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“It was not due to the pandemic,” Fox News contributor Karol Markowicz tweeted. “It was due to the Democrats and their slavish devotion to special interest groups like Randi Weingarten’s.”
“Kids were not left behind because of the pandemic,” Markowicz told Fox News Digital. “They were left behind because of the response to the pandemic in blue states. Democrats chose the teachers unions over the kids. When Gavin Newsom’s kids went back to in-person learning at their private school, the public schools in their area stayed closed. This was not pandemic related. This was politics related.”
Seattle radio host Jason Rantz also blamed “Democrats and unions” for kids’ stunted educational growth. He added in a dig at Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
“Democrats and unions closed schools over a virus that barely impacts kids,” Rantz wrote. “Biden’s fix? Spending money we don’t have in a way that makes inflation worse.”
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In one of the more infamous examples to suggest teachers unions helped delay the reopening of schools, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) were found to have corresponded with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on last-minute changes to school-reopening guidance last year.
AFT and NEA, the two largest teachers unions in the U.S., received a copy of the guidance before the CDC released it to the public, which included a phased reopening approach for K-12 schools based on coronavirus cases in the area. AFT’s senior director of health issues, Kelly Trautner, emailed CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Feb. 11, 2021, a day before the CDC publicly posted the guidance. In the email, Trautner suggested the CDC insert the line: “In the event high-community transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.”
Two of the AFT’s suggestions were reportedly “adopted nearly verbatim” in the final text of a CDC document on reopening guidance.
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Fox News’ Joe Schoffstall contributed to this report.