Countless families continue to feel anxiety over the prospect of looming school closures even as they continue to cope with the fallout of long-term virtual learning.
Despite the evidence we have showing how three years of disrupted learning has taken a toll on students, more than one million students across 6,300 schools started the new year off with more school closures. Education is not dispensable. That is why House Republicans held an education-focused discussion today to continue to bring this important issue to the forefront of the national conversation.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Rep. James Comer (KY-01), Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03), and Rep. Victoria Spartz (IN-05) gathered to discuss the flaws we have seen in our education system, lay out the Republican blueprint plan to empower parents with a Bill of Rights, and improve education for students.
Joining them were Karol Markowicz, a former New York resident and concerned parent who writes for the New York Post and Fox News; Allie Barnachia, a Taft Union High School student; Beth Feeley, a Chicago-area parent and co-founder of New Trier Neighbors; and Ashley Smith, a Baltimore County Public Schools parent.
Highlights from the roundtable can be found below.
Chairwoman Stefanik: “Parents are not domestic terrorists. Parents are integral to their kids’ education. Every teacher that I experienced growing up will tell you that a great indicator of student success is when parents are engaged in their kids’ education.”
Ranking Member Foxx: “It’s our duty to make our education system the best that it can be. This means putting the needs of students above the political interests of teachers unions and above the education bureaucracy’s thirst for control.”
Rep. Guthrie: “We were in school everyday they were allowed to unless the governor didn’t move forward… They met almost everyday they were allowed in the 2020- 2021 school year and there was no evidence of any passage of coronavirus between children because of being in school.”
Rep. Comer: “The Biden administration’s policies put the union bosses first and America’s students last… Even worse, the Biden administration allowed radical teachers unions to dictate the CDC’s school opening guidance — effectively keeping most schools closed.”
Rep. Banks: “I encourage parents everywhere to get involved: show up at their school boards; reach out to superintendents, teachers, and schools; and make your voice heard because it’s making a big difference.”
Rep. Spartz: “The state of our education system is a national security issue. I want to share with you some staggering statistics… only 3% of children in Indianapolis schools can pass some fundamental, basic skills. This is alarming.”
Karol Markowicz, concerned parent and columnist: “We have situations, like New York for example, where Governor Hochul imposed mask mandates on all the whole state and there’s no exceptions. The individual superintendents cannot make their own rules. Instead of pushing for local school districts to decide, it really should be the parents.”
Allie Barnachia, a student at Taft Union High School District: “Now, I think I can vouch for the majority of the students I go to school with. We have seen positive effects of being social, people are more engaged… there’s less anxiety with a lot of students.”
Beth Feeley, a Chicago-area parent and co-founder of New Trier Neighbors: “A lot of the issues that we had noticed came to the fore over the last two years with covid because when schools shut down parents saw what their kids were learning. As far as virtual learning, I think it was very dystopian for our family.”
Ashley Smith, a Baltimore County Public Schools parent: “When my son entered Kindergarten, he was forced to do virtual learning for pretty much the entire year. It isolated him to the point where he was barely speaking… unfortunately, there’s a lot of children in this school district that are very far behind. There needs to be a plan to bring them back to standards.”